After a 20-hour flight from Adelaide, my friend Marlene Norris and I arrived in Oslo (Norway) on a mission “Hunting the Northern Lights”.
We landed in a white and snowy country!
Our first impression of the city was one of wonder as some of our group of 40 had not had a lot of experience with snow.
After a day of city sightseeing our next excursion was one called Norway in a Nutshell.
We went by a very comfortable and warm train (the lowest the temperature that day was minus 8C) to Voss where we boarded the Flam Railway for a very, very spectacular trip through snow and ice covered mountains with scenes of rushing waterfalls, frozen streams and rocky outcrops.
Having previously seen this area in summer I was fascinated with the contrast of the seasons. from lush and green hillsides and valleys to a frozen and dramatic black and white winterland.
A trip down a fjord completed the day when our vessel was breaking through sheets of ice forming on the water.
At Bergen we boarded the MS Trollfjord for a seven-day cruise that took us above the Arctic Circle to Kirkenes.
This vessel was a working ship and took passengers and cars as well and tourists.
We berthed at 33 ports on the way up and saw sister ships of the Hirtigurtan Line as they returned south.
Some stops were of 30 minutes, some longer enabling passengers to go ashore and have a look around the towns.
The two upper decks were glass enclosed and it was great to sit in the warmth and watch the scenery as we passed .
It was a completely white world and everything was deep in snow. Very picturesque.
We disembarked at Kirkenes and did some sightseeing.
It was a whole new experience to live in a snowy world ...
Firstly we were taken to the Russia-Norway border, just a few kilometres from the town.
Norway and Russia have always been good friends and during World War II Kirkenes was badly bombed by the Germans as they tried too get into Russia.
The citizens of Kirkenes sheltered in huge bunkers during the bombing.
The afternoon was spent dog-sledding. We went out in pairs on a narrow sled with a musher (ours was a young girl).
The dogs are always so eager to be picked to be one of a team of seven. They pulled us through the snow, up hills and down slopes. It was a new experience and it was also very cold!
That night was our last chance to see the northern lights as every night has been overcast and snowing. We were taken to an area where the aurora was often seen but once again we did not see the lights!
Our last night was spent in the ice hotel which is built every winter. The whole room was made of ice including the bed.
We were given sleeping bags that were rated good to minus 38C. I lasted just 30 minutes in the ice before giving in and spending the rest of the night in the warm room – along with a number of other ladies I might add!
It was a whole new experience to live in a snowy world, lovely to see but I don’t think I would like to live in that climate.