24 October, 2016 Norway

Man-made advances are moving at an incredible pace annually, but sometimes it’s good to step back, or rather step out into the real world and be reminded that no matter how quickly or intricately we progress we are no match for Mother Nature. For years I have wanted to begin to explore Scandinavia. A mixture of wanderlust, curiosity and family drew me to Norway this autumn and from start to finish I was swept from my feet in a dizzying adrenaline fuelled fling with this Nordic wonderland. The adventure began with a brief spell in Oslo. Spending blue hour by the Opera House waterfront and sitting atop its urban landscaped roof I felt the spell of the country slowly engulf me and I readied myself for a thrilling adventure. I stepped off the plane in Narvik, having officially arrived in the Arctic Circle two days later and was further drawn into this land. Everything about it opened up, including the people, always ready to greet you with a smile.

Lofoten Islands was my northern stop and I was spellbound the moment I set foot on them. National Geographic had written a fairy-tale and I was standing amongst its pages. A smattering of islands, divided by fjords and connected by elegant bridges, these islands are feasts for the eyes. Land masses carved from years of glacial movement tower over modest timber cabins dotted throughout the landscape. Tumbling waterfalls cascade down the mountains onto pristine beaches and roads move with the curves of the land. This is a paradise for adventure seekers, wanderers, romantics and poets, as everything you seek is laid out before you. Timber structures are peppered amongst the islands ready for the winter’s haul of stock fish, the region’s biggest industry. By day eagles soar high above and by night, after waiting patiently I experienced the greatest reward of all, the Northern Lights.

As I stood both in Svolvaer and Hamnoy on Lofoten and on the Hurtigruten ferry making my way to Tromso the unmistakable green hue appeared, wavering across the sky. Then like a crescendo it erupted and danced a ballet above me – pirouettes, spins and dives, arcing gracefully from one side of the nocturnal sky to the other. Adrenaline pumped through my veins as awestruck I watched this spectacular display. Green hues, tinted with pink at the seams, natures dress for this wondrous show. My skin tingled after what I had just witnessed. My friend and I let out a series of hollers, cheers and thanks to the silent night and thought how wonderful it is that in an age of such technology nature still has the upper hand on us in areas such as this. No matter how hard man tries we cannot predict when a display like that will happen nor can we ever begin to rival it.

I think once you travel north in Norway it casts a spell on you….you will just want to return!

Tromso is the vibrant fun city of the north and it was here I had come to visit my cousin who had come here two years ago and never came home. Tromso is the perfect destination to embark on further Northern Lights chasing accompanied by bonfires and marshmallows, see the intricate craftsmanship at the northernmost glass blowing studio and admire the architecture of the Arctic Cathedral. The Tromso food festival was in full swing during my stay. I wandered through the vibrant street savouring the aromas emanating from the stalls and chatting with the locals. After my childlike guilt subsided I was swayed into trying the reindeer and have to confess it is tasty – but none of Santa’s herd was harmed! The wild salmon however were the local delicacy I made sure to get my fill of. Tender and smoked I have never tasted seafood as delicious.

Talking to the locals was a revelation into how the extremes of living in the Arctic Circle affect daily life from summer to winter. The day I tried to open the door to a travel agency to enquire about a trip further north to Svalbard and found it locked I knew my time was up! Two weeks of adventures, all modes of transport conceivable, hiking, clear fresh arctic air and a true escape left me feeling truly revitalised and have given me a glimpse into the sheer magic of this country. Rather than leaving me filled it has satisfied my hunger for now but captured my intrigue for more. I think once you travel north in Norway it casts a spell on you….you will just want to return!