Land of the Northern Lights – Norway
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”
So last week I updated my bucket list and made a pact with my dad that one day we were going to sit under the northern lights and remember the day we made a pact to sit under the northern lights! So enamoured was I with this mystical phenomena that I immediately changed my desktop background to a picture of Aurora Borealis. Why the sudden fascination? I had just finished reading Nora Robert’s Northern Lights, set in Alaska, where some of the book’s most profound moments take place under the northern lights.
Quoting from the book : “When you risk a moment outside shelter and see the northern lights, so brilliant, so electric that you think you could reach up and grab some of that shimmering green and pull it inside yourself for a charge, you know you don’t want to be alive anywhere else.” For some reason this really struck a chord with me. Just imagine gazing at those those green, red, pink, purple, sometimes even blue, hues on a dark cold night when all else is quite around you. Wouldn’t you just feel at peace with the world, at peace with yourself, just a little bit closer to heaven maybe? Now science would tell you how solar winds and magnetic particles of the atmosphere collide to produce these vibrant colours. But honestly I would like to believe its just a little sprinkle of magic, bestowed by Aurora, the goddess of dawn. I would give anything to see this wondrous event illuminating the sky. So once we decided that, yes we are going to witness the northern lights, it was a question of where to see them from. Well its self-explanatory isn’t it? What better place to see them than from the Land of The Northern Lights. Yes, Norway it is friends.
Now since I’ve obviously not gone to Norway, I’m also unfamiliar with its attractions. But here I’ll attempt to list down some so that in the event that any of us luckily find ourselves there, we’d know where to go. This land of the Vikings forms a part of the Scandinavian countries, bordered by Sweden, Finland, Russia and Denmark. Its capital is Oslo. Norway is also called the Land of the Midnight Sun, since the sun never completely goes below the horizon in summer (May to July), in areas north of the Arctic Circle. The converse happens in winter (November to January). The southern and western parts of Norway have milder climate. Oslo while having the warmest winters, also haves very cold winters with snowing. In short summertime is the best time to plan a trip to this beautiful land. Norway is famous for its fjords, formed due to its rugged coastline as can be seen in its maps. They are among my father’s top things to see in Norway and with good reason. These fjords are definitely places to visit in Norway.
Topping the list is Geirangerfjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Offering breathtaking views of mountain peaks, lush green foliage and stunning waterfalls, this is the place to be at in Norway. For nature lovers and photographers, this should be the ideal destination. You can do hiking, kayaking, rafting, skiing, take a cruise or just revel in the sights of this place. Dalsnibba (1,500 meters elevation) and Flydalsjuvet are the best viewpoints over the Valldola river. The 20 km ferry journey will be the best cruise you’ll ever take. The Storseterfossen and Friaren Waterfalls are some more gems in this treasure chest of jewels. Other fjords to visit in Norway are Lysefjord, Nordfjord, Hardangerfjord etc. A lot of them can be driven to from Oslo and Bergen. I mean honestly, given a choice I can happily spend a month just exploring these breathtakingly scenic places. Half of our desktop wallpapers are from these places. Another must visit place is the Pulpit Rock or Preikestolen, jutting out above a sheer cliff with an astounding drop of 600m to the waters of Lysefjord. Here you can literally dangle your legs above the nothingness below this precipice and quite literally feel your heart stop. Then there is the Kjeragbolden boulder, a boulder stuck between two to cliff faces, again over a sheer drop. Again the subject of many iconic wallpapers and pictures, standing astride this formation is an experience in itself.
Lofoten Islands should be another tick on your Norway itinerary. The view of the quaint fishing villages set against the backdrop of snow covered peeks shooting into the sky is not a sight you’ll forget in a hurry. For people who are fond of taking drives, Norway is an absolute heaven with its long coastline. The Kystriksveien (coastal route) through Nordland affords picturesque views of astounding beauty throughout its 650km stretch that has 6 ferry crossings. One can also take the coastal road from Mandal to Hafrsfjord, a part of the North Sea Cycle route. The Hurtigfruten Coastal Ferry is another good way to explore the famous coast of Norway. For those who want to experience the good old city life, Norway has a lot in store for you as well. Oslo is obviously the dream destination with its plethora of galleries and museums. The gleaming facade of its new glacier-white opera house can give Sydney’s Opera house a run for its money any day. Then there is Bergen with its Bryggen district whose archaic beauty is unparalleled. The Oslo-Bergen Railway offers another dramatically beautiful journey through the Norwegian landscape. Among other cities to explore are Trondheim, Alesund, Roros etc.
Norway has basically a lot to offer for everyone. Whether you are looking for an adventurous trip, a sightseeing trip, a recreational trip or just an avenue for relaxation, Norway will more than rise to your demands. And for those like me who want to have the divine experience of seeing the Northern Lights, it’s an absolute heaven. I only hope one day I can make this dream come true.