Chasing the Aurora Borealis

Seeing the Aurora Borealis has been in our bucket list from the moment we first learned about it in grade school. Two decades later, Dec 27, 2015 to be exact, we had to pinch ourselves to see if we were merely dreaming because that is exactly how it felt like watching for the first time, the Northern lights, dancing and lighting up the sky. It was magical to say the least.

Backstory

When we learned that we were both going to Europe for our studies, one of the first things that popped into our heads was “Aurora Borealis finally!”. We already knew how it’s practically impossible to witness this phenomenon and that bookings have to be made considerably early. So at that instant (no visa to Europe and no plane tickets yet) we immediately booked our accommodation in Abisko, Sweden as based on our extensive research (being the geeks that we are 🤓), Abisko is your best bet to actually seeing the Northern Lights. We made all the necessary bookings in April for our planned trip in December (yes that’s how long you have to book in advance!). Months turned into weeks and then days into the trip came and we still couldn’t believe that one of our life-long dreams was finally coming true.

The Journey Begins

We spent Christmas in Stockholm, our first Christmas abroad and away from family (it was not that bad, just involved a constant munching on a couple of delicious Swedish meatballs here and there 😉 ) and took a 16-hr train ride to the Northern most part of Sweden and definitely one of our favorite places on the planet- Abisko. Did we say 16 hours? Yes it was and every single hour spent on that train was worth it. The sceneries along the way were beautiful and we even saw iridescent clouds (we called them cotton candies)!

A few minutes into the final stop to Abisko, we geared up and got ready for possibly the coldest temperature we’ve ever experienced yet. Well it turned out it was not that cold, you know just -15 C 😲. The best part though was when we stepped off the train and we were greeted with snow fall 😀 . It was Keith’s first time to experience snow actually falling from the sky (not from a tree😂) so imagine how that made us feel even more excited than we already were. We were like kids in a candy store playing with the snow and telling each other how the snow flakes amazingly do resemble snow flakes 😐🤔.

The Chase is On

We only spent 3 nights in Abisko which is a ridiculously short stay for someone who wants to catch the Aurora Borealis (travelers usually stay for at least a week as these lights are one of the most unpredictable marvels of the sky) but we were incredibly blessed to have witnessed this magical show of lights every single night during our stay. Unbelievable we know!  But it definitely came with a price since we had to spend a lot of time outside in the cold waiting for hours and hours.

On our first night, we were headed to a lake not far from the cabin where we were staying when suddenly there it was lighting up the sky! We were literally howling for joy (embarrassing to some extent 🙈) and rapidly ran towards the lake to have a better vantage point (somewhere dark and far from the village lights). We can’t help but marvel at the sky and it felt like everything happened at lightning speed! It was really special seeing it for the first time albeit it was only for a few moments. Surely we wanted to see more after that and so the chase was on! 💪

The Best is Yet To Come

On our second night, we booked a sled ride into a nearby mountain top to step up our game (literally 😂)  in chasing the lights. It was our first time riding a sled and it sure was the best complement to a trip like this. It was kind of a torture however because the wind chill felt like needles piercing through our faces as our sled whisked through the mountain. When we reached our final stop (the elevation was pretty high! We actually settled on top of a frozen lake) we only realized how cold it was when our fingers and toes started to numb (and take note we were wearing proper winter gear provided by the group!). We were already imagining severe cases of frostbite that we might get but as always, our guide saves the day! He built us a fire and gave each of us a cup of steaming hot chocolate 😎.

It was very quiet in the area as we were only a total of 7 people then. That moment actually felt like we were in the wild with Bear Grylls 😀 . Well we were probably the only ones brave (or foolish 😛 ) enough to stay out in the –20 C weather just to wait on something that might not even show up. But lo and behold, as we were gathered around the fire gazing at the sky (armed with our cups of hot chocolate of course 😉 ), there it was again- the Aurora Borealis in all its glory! There couldn’t be a more perfect moment! This time it was a longer display of lights and we were able to take pretty decent photos. It was definitely one of the best moments in all adventure trips that we’ve done. A sled ride + hot chocolate + Aurora Borealis on a cold winter night; what else can you ask for? 😉

The Sweetest Goodbye

Seeing the lights for two consecutive nights was more than enough for us. So on our last night we didn’t really go out as much outside to gaze at the sky. We were in our cabin preparing dinner with some friends when we unexpectedly heard people outside hailing (must be the Auroras!) so we hurriedly rushed out the door (without boots and jackets!). Imagine the kind of panic that people are in during a house fire except that it’s not a fire, it’s the Aurora Borealis! The adrenaline coursing through our bodies at that moment more than made up for the painfully cold weather outside. And for the last time, the lights danced for us, which we so vividly remember until now 🙂

~Khryslyn & Keith~

IMG_7534
Our last glimpse of the lights from our cabin

 

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