published: Friday, January 25, 2013
Snow, ice and Northern Lights
Where do I start to talk about the last 10 days in Norway?
Perhaps with the Northern Lights. We got a glimpse of them one night while on our cruise ship. Lucky for us, the best view was on the deck we were staying on and our cabin was near the doors to the outside. So we got a good look at them.
It is hard to describe seeing the Northern Lights for real rather than in pictures. They were dimmer than I expected, a soft green light that moved across the sky. It was a beautiful sight to see. Trust me, it was well worth standing outside in a wind so frigid my face froze.
Unfortunately, that night was our one look at them. You need clear skies to view the lights, and the weather decided it wasn't going to cooperate with us after that night. In fact, there were onshore excursions that were cancelled due to weather. Our last two days at sea had the large ship rocking some, which was soothing if you were laying in bed but made walking an adventure.
I do not blame the cruise line for any of this. Good as they were in their treatment of us, they could not control the weather. Instead they worked hard to make sure we enjoyed ourselves and were comfortable.
They made extra sure we ate. If you've ever been on a cruise ship you know that one of the primary forms of entertainment is eating. Breakfast and lunch were buffets while dinner was an excellent three course meal. While I didn't get to try everything offered (if I had the numbers on the scale would be a lot scarier then they are at the moment) I did sample a few things I don't recall eating before, such as ox and stewed reindeer. Yes, I ate reindeer meat. Don't tell Rudolph.
Don and I got to visit a number of Norwegian coastal towns while on the cruise. This is where my husband's research and preparation for the trip really shone. Thanks to him we didn't freeze to death on any of these excursions - in fact, we were so comfortable we didn't have to use some of the things we'd brought such as stuff called "Hot Hands," which from the description on the packaging is like sticking a mini-heater in your pocket.
One item we did use extensively is something called - I am not kidding - "Yaktrax." Yaktrax are essentially chains you can strap to the bottom of your boots or shoes to keep your footing on ice and snow.
I can testify that these babies work. I could feel them gripping the ice when I put my foot down. This did not keep me from hanging on to Don's arm - a Norwegian toddler is more surefooted than I am when it comes to walking on snow and ice. But without these on my boots I am sure there would have been several times I'd have wound up flat on my back or my rear, which would have entertained anyone watching while I would be wondering if one could really die of embarrassment.
Sadly, only one of my Yaktrax made it home. The other one slipped off my boot somewhere when we traveled from Kirkenes to our hotel in Oslo. Which is a shame because if I ever go anyplace there's a chance of snow and ice I want to have these handy.
I will be candid. I would not choose to live in Norway. It is cold. Eating out costs a small fortune. I'm not sure they've heard of Diet Dr. Pepper.
But I'm not opposed to visiting the place again. It is a beautiful country, and the people are kind and friendly. And the lights are still there. I wouldn't mind finding them just one more time.
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