God jul! from Tromsø – Paris of the North!
It was time for Mummy to join in the festivities. The passengers on the Hurtigruten cruise were given torches as they all walked to the church. They streamed through town – it was only a 3 minute walkto the Tromsø Cathedral in the nearby square – but a lovely touch. After the service, at dinner, Father Christmas came with pressies Mummy and her friends had gone for the early seating and as they were relaxing after dinner, the announcement came on that there was a faint sighting of the Northern Lights – they leapt out of their seats and ran out onto the deck. It was a very faint light and Mummy did not have her digital camera with her so she resorted to her iPhone – It was hardly visible – though there was a trace of green on the top of the hill.
We said goodbye to Ellen and her family as they got off the boat – so it is now just us three. Mummy took us for another walk around the pretty town and we came across these magical reindeers – they must have been getting ready for their big night out!As we walked back to the ferry – we saw a group of people huddled outside by the harbour – all set up to take photos of the Northern Lights.We left them to it and went back inside the ferry as there was more merrymaking! Bjorn, the head of the expedition team led the dance around the Christmas tree – well, there wasn’t much space around the treeSo the hoomans all joined hands and danced around the bar and therefore around the tree!!! LOL! To entice the passengers to participate, the captain and his team joined in – though a bit apprehensive! LOL!
I think they’re all glad that Christmas comes only once a year!
When all the festivities seemed to be over – and Mummy had returned to the cabin – sitting down to write the blog when an announcement came over the intercom that there were strong sightings of Northern Lights! Mummy jumped into some pants, pulled on a coat and ran out of the cabin in a hurry.
But she couldn’t figure out her digital camera – so she resorted once again to her iPhone – disaster!But even then – she did manage to capture some of it … better go figure out your camera tomorrow, Mummy!
May’s comment: You don’t have to believe in fairy tales or God to feel the magic of Christmas. Whether you’re Christian or of other faiths, there’s something magical at this time of year. The lights, the festivities, the traditions, the songs and the exchange of gifts. For the same reasons, it is not always easy for others.
If I had planned my Christmas this year, it couldn’t have been better. The journey in search of the Northern Lights happened to coincide with Christmas. It was the only time of year I could take the extended amount of time – not just for the ferry but to manoeuvre a whole train journey around my two pooches. As long as I could manage, I would spend my Christmasses with them.
And so we made the journey – with the hopes to fulfill three wishes, one of them a bucket list item – the Northern Lights. The other two – a White Christmas and to experience Polar Nights. The last time I wanted to ensure myself of a White Christmas, I went to Buffalo, NY! And we almost got snowed in! LOL!
On this journey, the first four days was dismal – clouded over, rain, sleet – but, as we got more north from the Equator, the landscape started to change – the sleet and rain turned to snow and we sailed past snow covered landscapes and into snow covered harbours. And yes, the nights got much longer and we saw hints of sun late into the day. All of these are natural phenomenas that has always been – but we don’t live in these regions. Now all that remains is – will I see the Northern Lights?
Christmas was dawning upon us – and the Hurtigruten crew came up with very relevant, tokens of festivities – to give to those who wanted to celebrate get into the mood. And it all came about on the 23rd December and spilled into the 24th – from making ornaments for the Christmas tree to decorating gingerbread hearts. From going to the local church service, carrying torches as we walked through the town, singing around the piano in the bar – Silent Night in three languages (Norwegian, English and German) and the very Norwegian carol “Deilig er Jordan” and dancing around the Christmas Tree to Norwegian Christmas songs – they added a few things on my bucket list! 🙂
During the Christmas speech, Bjorn (Expedition Team Manager) mentioned that there were altogether 29 nationalities represented on our cruise – and tonight we were all in the “same boat” – celebrating this magical time of year, that may this wonderful feeling we have to see us through tough and difficult times at other times of the year.
And as I walked with my two pooches through the snow-covered streets of Tromso – a place where I have always wanted to be,I was experiencing a Nordic Christmas – with all their traditions and special touches, to enjoy a Christmas planned so beautifully simple, the food, the thoughtfulness of glühwein (without the alcohol) and gingerbread hearts to greet passengers as they came in from the cold – everything was picture postcard perfect.I still have six more days on the ferry and had resigned to catching Northern Lights sometime, confident that we must see them sometime when within the Arctic Circle. Just then the skies cleared, the stars came out and lo and behold, the Northern Lights floated in its ethereal beauty above us. My camera was not functioning (or it was my lack of knowledge) and desperate to take some photos, resorted to my iPhone – when I remembered the Guide when telling us the settings for the camera when taking photos of the Northern Lights, reminded us to look at them with our own eyes and appreciate them directly and not through the camera lens. And so I did. Freezing cold as I had quickly pulled on just something (no layering) to run out of the cabin, I had fingerless gloves, no hat, just a hood and the Arctic wind was blowing as the ferry was speeding along to its next destination. But I stood for a few minutes in the cold, cold dark winter night, and just savoured the moment of seeing the Northern Lights – something I had so longed to see for so many years, – floating in the sky due to magnetic particles and the sun’s energy … all very scientific and factual but breathlessly magical.
So on this Christmas Eve, I am grateful. Grateful on many levels – for all the things I came to see, experience and feel – all happened more beautifully than expected. Just being able to do it physically was another. It was by no means an easy task to have both Darcy and George with me – and they made it more special. And really grateful to still be able to dream …
“I still believe in Christmas” – behind all that hoop-la, there’s a dream, and so it seems – a dream where snow is falling breathless and the fire throws out a happy glow all night … At times it doesn’t hurt to see the world in a rosy kind of light.
Christmas 2017 will be long remembered.