We were on a multi-city trip to Norway. Bergen, Tromso, and Oslo. A dream vacation.
“Why are you going in February?” Our friends would ask. “Isn’t Norway near the North Pole? You’re going to freeze!”
It’s true. Norway in February is not what one would call a tropical paradise. But we had our reasons.
Our trip began in Bergen, and was a truly enchanting city. The food, the culture, the mountains peering over the the city. It was everything one would hope from a Norwegian adventure.
But eventually we had to leave.
I checked my watch. Time to get to the airport. We arrived on time but the flight was slightly delayed. I was getting nervous. The plane lifted off from Bergen and headed north. Way north.
The entire flight, I kept looking at the time. When would we land? Would we make it? Finally we touched down on the icy runways of Tromso.
We got off the plane with a cold wind blowing on our faces. The sun was setting (there’s not much daylight in Tromso in February) with only a slight amber glow over the frozen peaks in the distance.
I checked my watch again. Not much time! We caught a taxi and raced from the airport. The taxi drove us into Tromso’s underground highway system, built to avoid the yearly blizzards and chaos of winter.
Eventually we emerged from the tunnels and appeared in the heart of Tromso. The streets were gravel, the buildings were short and wooden, with a warm glow emanating from the windows.
At the end of our street I could see a bus. Our bus. There was a sign in the window that read, ‘Chasing Lights’. We made it. Barely.
A blonde-haired man popped his head from the window of the bus. “Are you ready to see the northern lights?” We definitely were.
The bus drove out of the city, crossing one of Tromso’s enormous bridges, and headed into the icy wilderness. The lights of civilization faded away, and the sky began to light up with stars.
Our tour company knew where to go and what to look for. They knew how to avoid cloudy weather and impeded views. After two hours of driving, the bus pulled off to the shoulder of an unassuming road.
“It’s here! Everyone, come look!” shouted the driver.
We got off the bus and were met with a glow of emerald shining down from space. There they were. The northern lights.
Since I was a child, I had dreamed of seeing the aurora borealis. And now, thirty years later on a cold night in northern Norway, I was looking at them.