All original content © 2011-2014. Photos and Text, unless otherwise stated, are by the author of Pork Bier Belly. If you want to use images or writing, please ask for permission prior to using.

Friday, January 31

Tromso for the Northern Lights

Tromso is one of the northern most cities in Norway.  We took a train to Frankfurt, flew to Oslo and then another shorter flight to Tromso.

Flying into the city, the landscape is of glaciers and mountains covered in snow.

The natural beauty is unreal and unlike anything we have seen.  Even Switzerland does not compare.  Partly because the sun shines only part of the year.  In winter although the sun may be on the surface or possible to see, it never fully shines, causing the sky to dance in various shades of red and pink.

Aurora borealis (northern lights) is the main reason travelers visit the northern areas of the country.  This north at least.  The lights can be seen in clear skies so good weather is necessary.  We arrived on Friday afternoon and ate lunch at the restaurant connected to our hotel.   That night the tour guide drove us and 6 others in his van to a remote spot, away from the city.  Arriving at 7:30pm, we prepared our cameras in the direction of the lights.  At 8pm, we were able to see some activity although only through our cameras.  The lights have an activity level of 1- 10, 10 being the brightest.   

The brightest dot in the picture above is Jupiter.

That night the lights were 3-4 therefore our cameras captured the lights with long exposure.  At first the husband thought he was seeing clouds in the sky.  When the activity level is lower, the lights appear as dull cloud cover.  The tour guide cautioned us of the low activity but faintly seeing them was still unreal.  (And of course seeing them through the photographs.) 

I photographed the sky many times because it was fascinating to look up and see thousands of shining stars.  

Due to the extreme low temperatures, adequate gear is necessary.  Frostbite on fingers and toes are common if you don’t have proper gloves and shoes.  The tour guide gave everyone big, heavy jackets and boots.

Another activity we planned for the weekend was dog sledding.  The husband read about tours with companies in the area and chose from the highest rating.  The next morning the company picked up everyone at 9am in center city and drove us to their home on another island, 30 minutes away.  (Tromso is made up of small island towns.) Upon arriving we were given appropriate warm gear for sledding.  We met 100 dogs they bred and bought for sledding.  And we met the 6 Alaskan husky dogs that would pull our sled.  The sled is primitive in that one person sits on the wooden sled while another stands behind and brakes when needed.  I was nervous to drive but after the first round, it was both enjoyable to drive and sit.  Since I am not a good driver (ask the husband, I’ve had plenty of accidents in cars and even one on bicycle), I managed to flip us over off the sleds.  The dogs were running extremely fast and at a sharp turn instead of pressing the brake to slow the dogs I didn’t and the sled flipped.  Thankfully there weren’t any injuries.  Being pulled by 6 husky dogs through the rarely visited parts of Norway was memorable.  And what made it especially worthwhile were the views of the sky with tinges of pink and red, signs of the sun. 

Both sledding and seeing the northern lights put new perspective on life.  Natural beauty is surreal and our (everyone’s) lives on earth are a small fraction of what contains this planet.  Unfortunately we don’t take the time to cherish and appreciate this as much as we should.  Little things or quarrels shouldn’t matter as much as living in the moment.  There is so much evil in the world and natural beauty makes me realize very few, important people matter and to leave the worrying in the past.   done.ranting.

A note about the food in Tromso; since the city’s location is so far north and the region endures extreme cold in winter and average summers, not much food is grown here and therefore has to be imported.  This means the cost of food in restaurants for tourists (this may include locals also but we didn’t ask) is outrageously expensive.  And unfortunately the quality is just average.  But that shouldn’t stop anyone from planning a trip.  

This trip to Norway came at the heel of our last holiday trip to the Philippines.  It is stunning we were in a country surrounded by beaches and blue water last year and this year we were in a place surrounded by water, frozen water in the form of ice and snow, snow capped mountains and -10 Celsius temperature.  Both trips added unique experiences and memories to our life; both unforgettable in their own right. 


  1. What an amazing experience! Yes, there really is so much beauty in this world. And yes there is the opposite of that too, but how can one not be in awe of nature?

    1. exactly Mia. Tromso ranks as one of our favorite trips because of the surreal beauty, very much like Philippines.

  2. PS glad no one was injured when your sled flipped over!!

    1. Yes, falling on fluffy snow doesn't hurt, thankfully!