On this day there was an optional excursion to Narvik, Norway for those that wanted to join. Not everyone did, which was evident by some vacant bus seats, and I was surprised by this. Perhaps those that didn’t go to Narvik went snowshoeing or cross country skiing. Nevertheless, I definitely wanted to go to Narvik and visit the World War 2 museum as well as see one of those famous, real-life Norwegian fjords.
The drive took about an hour and a half, but it was a pretty, scenic route. Summer houses dotted frozen bodies of water, closed up for the winter months, with most of the roads even inaccessible. We drove past Lake Torne and also a wind farm. You never realize how large wind mills are until you are right next to them, with their large turbines dizzying, mechanical.
We stopped just before Narvik to take photos of a fjord and be all touristy. It was beautiful.
God Morgon, Norge! (Good Morning, Norway!)
After this we all hopped back on the bus and continued on to Narvik. Before stopping at the museum, or the city/mall for those who weren’t going to the museum, we drove around the harbor to see the LKAB port. They have quite the establishment in Narvik for shipping out their iron ore.
Me, along with a fair number of others went to the World War 2 museum dedicated to Norway’s contribution during this historical event. Most of the information was focused on different sieges of the port, and how certain countries (ahem, Germany) were trying to gain control of the iron ore shipments. There were also some interesting artifacts found in the museum, but then again, I just like history.
We also had a little bit of time to walk around. And by that I mean less than fifteen minutes. Still, it was enough to take in a few sites and assimilate the history behind the town, along with its potential for a growing port town that cultivates modernity, but remains earthy all the same.
Unfortunately we were only able to stay in Narvik for a little longer than an hour, surprisingly, considering we didn’t have much planned for the rest of the evening and the drive was relatively long.
Some of us that were awake also got the opportunity to drive right past a tornado. I have never been so close to a tornado before, but it was obvious that the wind was swirling around a large, whirling funnel on the ground. Good thing it didn’t pick up our bus.
On the way back to Abisko we were able to sign up for the time that we wanted to visit the wood heated sauna. There were three times available, and I opted for the second slot because it would give me enough time to relax a little before making dinner and then heading to the sauna. The sauna was located right on the bank of the Torne, and it was about a 20 minute walk or so down to it.
I didn’t wear my bathing suit down to the sauna, which I should have done because there weren’t exactly changing rooms at the sauna. I hid in the corner and stripped quickly, while others didn’t seem to care about privacy. Mind you, this was a mixed group.
Never before had I been to a wood heated sauna, and I must say it was quite the experience. I’m glad I got to do it with some more familiar Europeans because they understood how to keep it hot, really hot. Unlike in America, saunas are very popular in Scandinavia and a lot of people participate in them on a regular basis. The temperature started out at about 80 degrees C or 176 degrees F, but I know it went up at times when more wood and water was added. Huge droplets of sweat were coming out of every pore in my body, even my feet.
We all jumped in the icy Torne for a little fun. We had to wear socks or shoes though because it was very rocky. I went twice, once with two girls who I didn’t know, and once with my friend Tomas from the Czech Republic. We had to go in at least a duo for safety reasons. Honestly, I would never do something like this on my own.
Yes, our “beach” was a ledge of ice and snow
Tomas was so funny. He asked me if I wanted to go with him and before we left the sauna he could not find his towel so he went without. Then I was so cold after getting out I left him in the dust and ran back to the sauna. At least a girl from Australia mistakenly took our picture and I was able to get copies. Check out Tomas photo bombing Kat.
Remember, this water comes from a glacier. Occasionally large chunks of ice would float by and we would have to push them away. As for the sauna, I could see myself doing that on a semi-regular basis if I had access to a good sauna. Afterwards I just felt so rejuvenated.
As I was walking back to the hostel with the Australians, Kat and Holly, we casually turned around and the Northern Lights were starting to come out! Finally! During the day everyone imagined the prospects would be good because we could see a million stars in the sky. Really truly, you could see every star that was out that night. It was breathtaking. There was also a meteor shower and I saw two shooting stars! What a good night!
Surprisingly difficult to photograph
The lights that we saw photographed with more intensity than what was in the sky. Although they were still green and obviously there, it wasn’t like as bright of an emerald as what these photos depict. I was happy all the same to just see the Northern Lights. According to the website How Stuff Works, “The auroras, both surrounding the north magnetic pole (aurora borealis) and south magnetic pole (aurora australis) occur when highly charged electrons from the solar wind interact with elements in the earth’s atmosphere. Solar winds stream away from the sun at speeds of about 1 million miles per hour. When they reach the earth, some 40 hours after leaving the sun, they follow the lines of magnetic force generated by the earth’s core and flow through the magnetosphere, a teardrop-shaped area of highly charged electrical and magnetic fields.”
I once again ended the night with a hot shower. You never realize how much you enjoy showering until you are out braving the elements all day.