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Northern Lights feb 2013

Northern Lights feb 2013

Postby octocruiser » 06 May 2013 07:51

Dificult to know where to place this, but off-road seems to be the most appropriate. It's a description I posted on another forum I visit. I am not sure I could call it my favourite excursion, but it was certainly different to anything else I have ever done.

We've been, we've seen ....

...the Aurora Borealis. We arrived in Alta inside the Arctic circle on Sunday March 3rd at about 4 pm. Night falls quite early and after a good dinner those who intended to go out Aurora Hunting that evening (about 300 or so happy hunters) gathered in the lounge for a briefing by the professional guide.

There are about 4 main potential sites and he reported in some detail on the current temperature, the visibility, the wind conditions of each of them and concluded that the best chance of getting a view that evening was at the site most distant from where we were berthed, and with a lower projected temperature than any of the others.

It was about 50 mins coach ride away and the projected temperature was –16 to -20C. He pointed out how warmly he was clad for the adventure and strongly advised us to follow his example.

A red Arctic jacket had been included as part of the cruise package and the advice was to wear thermals and at least two other layers beneath this.

He also gave detailed advice about the camera settings and exposure timings required to get pictures, and advised that a tripod is essential, and that flash is a NO-NO.

That ruled us out – point and click is the peak of our photography expertise. We had already decided that getting our own piccies was not worth the risk of suffering frost-bitten fingers ;-)) and had decided to nick professional ones to illustrate to our friends what we had seen – if indeed we had seen anything. There is of course no guarantee that the show will be visible on any given date or time – but we might even have been prepared to lie – well, just a little.

We got ourselves kitted out and made our way down the gangway and gingerly crunched through the frozen snow to the waiting coaches.

After boarding the warmly heated coaches we were strongly advised to remove outer garments so as to feel the benefit once on site !!

It had taken 30 minutes of struggling to don the layers while in the spacious confines of our cabin. Get them off again while wedged like Mr & Mrs Michelin in the seat of a bus ?? YOU MUST BE JOKING.

The journey, although in darkness was very scenic as the snow gives off a sufficiently eerie glow to highlight the features of the countryside. We were probably travelling in the dark over the hard-packed snow at about 60+ kph. It was ironic on the morning of our arrival back in Southampton a week or so later to switch on our cabin telly and see that 2 inches of snow had once again brought parts of the UK to a standstill.

Once at the site we were turned loose to disperse and get away from light pollution so as to get the best possible chance of a view – looking a bit like a swarm of ladybirds in our red jackets. This was rather a risky strategy for octogenarians with ambulatory limitations. After hearing tales of some of our number straying into deep potholes and taking tumbles into the snow piled up alongside the pathways marked with lines of candles we decided to stay within sight of the few wooden buildings which afforded some ambient light from the candles flickering in the windows.

Besides, we soon discovered that we were welcome to pop inside said buildings from time to time for hot chocolate and delicious home-made cake – all included in the package ;-)

We also noticed that the professional photographer had set up his very professional tripod within easy reach of the buildings and reckoned if it was a good enough spot for him it was good enough for us. The sky above was wonderfully clear and star-spangled. The only problem was that with all my layers of clothing I was hardly able to lean my head back to view the full arc of the sky – feeling a little like the proverbial penguin reputed to fall flat on its back trying to watch a plane fly over.

We later heard from the more able and adventurous that they had wandered far enough to find a tepee beyond the buildings where folk in National costume were also dispensing hot chocolate around a camp fire. As far as I know no-one came back with broken bits, although one person did collapse while waiting to board the return coach - I think he was genuinely taken ill because the cry went up - 'Do we have a doctor among us ?' to which there was an immediate response from more than one of our travelling companions.

One becomes aware that Norway has eschewed all entanglement with the EU so is blissfully able to get away with ‘Elf & Safety considerations in a way that would cause a UK inspector to suffer apoplexy. This was even more evident on another adventure in the snow which I will relate in a separate post.

We were assured that we were very fortunate and had got a good show of the lights – almost as good as it gets, even.

I suppose it is one of the best kept secrets of Norway, the cruise industry and the ‘Lights tourism’ set up generally that you do NOT see the lights with the naked eye as they appear on the photos. They were mostly white light with a tinge of green – the colour(s) develop with the special settings and long exposure (tripod essential). You cannot just point and click for a picture, and the professional photographer was getting pretty pee’d off with the people who insisted on clicking and flashing around him despite having been asked in advance not to do so.

I hope this link will work to the Facebook page of the official guide and photographer

http://www.facebook.com/GLODalta#!/media/set/?set=a.37679446...

I am as sure as I can be that I was there when these photos were taken, but what they show is not really what I saw.

All the same I would not have missed the night visit despite the temps well below zero. As it happened the driver on our bus switched the (internal;-)) coach lights off and the display followed us all the way back to the ship – with the changing night time scenery set against the stunning moving and swirling swathes in the sky.

Once back on the ship some time after midnight we peeled off our many layers like onion skins, popped our hot water bottles into our beds and went in search of the promised running hot buffet where my beloved ever-smiling Filipino waiters were on hand to serve us and make me a cup of Hot Milky Horlicks.

Now I’m sure that for many of you the way I have described our trip will cause a shudder – intrepid travellers like yourselves will declare that you would so much prefer to do it the hard way – trekking through the cold Arctic conditions and setting up your tripods in remote corners far away from coachloads of pampered cruisers in red jackets.

Good on yer !! But we were very happy to do it the way wot we dun it – and we loved every minute of it ;-))

NK
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Northern Lights feb 2013

Postby grannyM » 06 May 2013 09:12

Thanks for that great review octocruiser. The Northern lights cruise must have been a wonderful experience. It's something I'd love to do.

I've tried to access the facbook page by C&P the address but the page is unavailable. Sorry we can't view the photos as I'm sure they are worth seeing.

Have you seen hazel20's topic Northern Lights on Boudicca?

http://www.cruisingmates.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=5397&p=86305#p86305
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Re: Northern Lights feb 2013

Postby octocruiser » 06 May 2013 10:54

Thanks for the pointer to hazel20's post. We saw Boudicca in Tromso, but we would have been on the earlier cruise in February.

Sorry about the link. As I commented earlier I did the whole post by C&P from another site where I had posted it and where the link format was viable. It may be that the site is no longer displaying our particular pictures. I shall study carefully how to to format posts properly on here.

Cheers Octo
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Re: Northern Lights feb 2013

Postby grannyM » 06 May 2013 11:14

octocruiser wrote:Thanks for the pointer to hazel20's post. We saw Boudicca in Tromso, but we would have been on the earlier cruise in February.

Sorry about the link. As I commented earlier I did the whole post by C&P from another site where I had posted it and where the link format was viable. It may be that the site is no longer displaying our particular pictures. I shall study carefully how to to format posts properly on here.

Cheers Octo


That's ok Octo I think you're doing everything right but it would appear, as Dave said, the end of the addresses seem to be missing. :?
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