An Arctic Adventure on a Mission to see the Northern Lights
In February 2014 we went on a 15 day cruise in the hope of spotting the aurora borealis, otherwise known as the Northern Lights. Another holiday thanks to my incredibly generous parents! The aurora was believed to be at peak visibility during 2014 thanks to the solar max period we’ve just experienced (where solar activity is at its highest) however I’ve since read that it may continue to be highly visible for the next couple of years. And if you won’t make it in 2015 or 2016, the next solar max period will be in 11 years.
There were some people on our cruise who had been on three previous trips and not seen the aurora once. I had a feeling however their luck was about to change on this trip. And I was not wrong! We went away having seen the lights three times, the strongest viewing was a 5/6 on the scale of 0-9 used to measure visibility.
Here are a couple of shots we took of the glorious aurora.
For me however just to have been on deck experiencing the aurora is far better than any photo I’ve taken. I don’t think my photos do the light show justice, but they are a great memory jogger of the time. The aurora is better viewed inland so perhaps one day I’ll get to go camping in the countryside with no lights or people around for miles. That said, the lights are only visible at 7-9 on the scale around 1% of the time, so you would have to be extremely lucky to see this! If you’re interested in the science of the aurora, read more here on wikipedia.
Whilst on the cruise, there were plenty of options for excursions and daily entertainment. We did so much yet it seemed such relaxing holiday! The thing that stands out most for me was the huski driving. Mr BB and I took it in turns to man the sleigh which was pulled by six huskies. This was so exhilarating, and apparently whilst I was driving Mr BB took as much pleasure at the enchantment and smile on my face as he did the stunning surrounding view. There’s a video somewhere which I’ll have to dig out and share.
We also drove snowmobiles which were faster and a lot of fun, but not quite as magical as the huskies! We did have our own snowmobiles, the pic below was just a pose for the camera! We’re both speed freaks at heart (although Mr BB more so than I) so relished the opportunity to get some distance from the snowmobile in front of us and then give it full throttle!
We also paid a trip to an Ice Palace, although we decided against stopping overnight in a room there. A bit too cold, even with the furs you get given on the bed.
Here is the main hall with all the bedrooms off of it.
A rather impressive ice chandalier.
Beware the polar bear!
Fabulous photos of the Northern Lights adorn the walls, and are hung and lit as though in an art gallery. I suppose offering some solace for those who don’t see them in their full blown glory.
The hotel offers top security.
At the end of the tour there’s a great cafe/bar/restaurant where we sat next to a central open fire and drank hot chocolate to warm our cockles.
We didn’t take all that many photos on our trip, but there are some beautiful sights to behold. This is a panoramic view of Alesund from Aksla Viewpoint, some 620ft above the town and reached by no less than 419 steps.
I believe this to be the Slettasfossen Waterfall, part of the Rauma River near Andalsnes. Whilst here we also visited the Trollstigen and Trollveggen, which translate to Troll Path and Troll Wall, and The Rauma Railway, on which parts of Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince were filmed.
Other places visited on the cruise included Amsterdam (where we did a city tour), Narvik (where we visited the Polar Zoo), Tromso, Sortland, and Bergen (where we visited Bryggen a UNESCO world heritage site).
Whilst on the boat we dined like kings and queens every meal. The food was a la carte for lunch and dinner pretty much every day, and there was something to please everyone. The entertainment was great fun too, in a family holiday kind of way! Our family highlights included me winning Catchphrase (below), Mr BB & I winning Mr & Mrs (which we reluctantly took part in), and getting 20/20 in one of the daily quizzes.