One of my life’s dreams is to see snow. I think it is a common dream for many people living in tropical countries like me, where there are only 2 seasons all year round – rainy and sunny, with the lowest temperature of 23oC. I have been travelling to many countries, but rarely going in winter. Even if it was winter, those places were not cold enough to have snow. Therefore, when planning to hunt for the northern lights, the trip has to be done in the winter, in the extremely cold zones, then my dream of seeing snow will be satisfied anyway.
As I shared in the article “My fate with Aurora – Oh really, that’s it”, the ultimate goal of this trip was the Aurora, but that was not the only purpose. With 17 days, we balanced our itinerary between hunting the northern lights and experiencing, exploring new interesting things in Scandinavia countries – the extreme cold region where most of our team members have not yet been once.
It was the 17 coldest days of my life when I experienced in the weather from -15oC to 6oC. It was a trip that I achieved my own record for doing many things I had never done. And it was also the memorial trip for our group when many of us could make it (9 people).
the first time seeing the snow then experiencing a blizzard; the first time driving on a snowy road, the first time riding a snowmobile and fishing on a frozen lake, the first time riding a dog-sledding, the first time seeing the reindeer and the first time admiring the northern Aurora. It was a trip with many troubles and incidents as well as the most interesting surprises.
Day 1-3: Copenhagen – the layers of emotions
Copenhagen doesn’t have much snow in winter, only drizzle and gray sky, but left me with layers of emotions. It was a simple happiness when my freeze hands holding a traditional hot Danish cup of coffee, while I was joyfully taking a sip of aromatic coffee with a blanket up to my chest, and enjoying the peaceful scenery of Nyhavn canal. The serene sensation mingled with excitement when we shared sips of whiskey and puffed smuggled weed while watching gorgeous sunset on the swan lake in Hippie Christiania freetown. Emotional relief when talking to a famous Danish painter who gave me a profound lesson in art and life.
Besides those uplift moments, continuous unexpected incidents occurred, from delayed luggage to being pick-pocketed, making us worried, nervous, frustrated, and then released and relieved when they were all smoothly resolved. Those were the layers of emotions I had in Copenhagen.
If it was not for hunting the aurora, we would have never known Kiruna & Abisko, two extremely small and remote towns in the northernmost of Sweden and would never have the unique experiences with snow. In only 5 days there, I achieved my own record of doing many things I had never done in such a short period of time.
I was delighted to see the beautiful snowflakes that I had thought were created by Walt Disney painters. Experiencing the freezing cold at -15oC on long nights waiting for the Aurora and witnessing a blizzard were unforgettable memories for my first time seeing snow.
Day 9-11: Lost in the icy wonderland of Lofoten
The road trip in Lofoten was like a trip to another world – the icy wonderland. The cold and deserted winter scenery would have had only boring black and white colors. But it was not, Lofoten appeared brilliant and overwhelming.
Sometimes standing in front of a beautifully surreal and speechless landscape, I had to pinch my cold hands to see if I still existed, and that scene was real or dreaming. This wonderland was magnificent, this wonderland was shimmering and I just wanted to continue driving forever on the snowy winding roads.
Day 12-14: Bergen – city of the roofs
My first impression of Bergen was “Copenhagen of Norway”, since the common feature was vintage multicolored houses shining on a bank of the canal. However, after three days of wandering around without agenda in this city, I realized that Bergen was charming and elegant in a very different way.
We were amazed when walking into every small alley of Bryggen’s old town – a UNESCO World Heritage site, gazing upward to admire the amazing wooden architecture which seemed to be built without any framework. Numerous narrow, small and steep cobbled streets lined by beautiful multicolored houses with fresh flower pots lead to the top of Mt. Floyen, open an unique panoramic view of Bergen – a City of the roof.
Day 15-16: Flam village and legendary Flamsbana railway
Sometimes being stubborn to do what I want turned out an interesting surprise. While everyone in our group boarded a flight from Bergen to Oslo, then connected to a flight back to Vietnam, I was determined to explore the legendary Flamsbana railway alone, dubbed one of the world’s steepest railway on normal track.
With a length of about 20km and a slope of 886m from Myrdal plateau to the bottom of Flam valley nestled in the innermost corner of the Aurlandsfjord, Flamsbana railway goes through 20 tunnels offering a panoramic view of the the most spectacular pristine mountainous scenery of Norway. The rivers flowing through deep ravines, icy waterfalls cascading down the mountainside, the deserted and frozen streets were the breathtaking scenery I enjoyed on this train.
Day 17: Hello Oslo, solo in a winter day
Passing by Olso, the capital of Norway, was just because it is the most convenient place for my return flight to Vietnam. Like any big city, Oslo appeared crowded and busy. Solo around the city in a winter day, my only impression was the “iceberg” Opera House and Vigeland sculpture park with hundreds of unique statues.
Wandering in downtown, I didn’t think I was in the capital of European richest country. Construction sites were almost in every corner, from house repairs to roads fixing, like the common scene of a developing country. I entered a Vietnamese restaurant, rewarding myself for the last meal of the trip. An expensive Vietnamese dish with a bit of homeland taste and a short conversation with a Vietnamese guy working here made my last night warmer.
Traveled on Feb, 2019
Read my other articles about this trip
Welcome to read upcoming articles
Tips extremely cold in Northern Europe
Copenhagen – The layers of emotions
Lost in the icy wonderland of Lofoten
Bergen – City of the roofs
Flam village and legendary Flamsbana railway
Hello Oslo, solo in a winter day