Monday, January 10, 2011

Tromsø: northern-lights and half marathon

Yes, both purposes of our visit to Tromsø are accomplished. We have seen some wonderful northern lights, I run half marathon at 1:59 (under 2 hours, as it was planned), we had a good time walking around in the city and Greta enjoyed watching sea lions and different fish in Polaria arctic center.

Now, a little bit of everything. Tromsø is a nice place to visit. We enjoyed it now during the polar night, but it is sure worths visiting in summer too. When we arrived to the airport (around 11 am), we did not understand why all the fuss about polar night, it looked like it was enough light (no sun, of course). But already after noon it becomes pretty dark anyway.

I must admit, that our expectations about "the aquarium" was too high. In reality, it was much smaller than expected, so that a visitor without kids is done there in 30 minutes. We, of course, spent much more time running around all the fish-tanks, the sea lions pool, ans "talking" to the stuffed polar bears.

It was quite a challenge to find a child-friendly possibility to watch the northern lights. Many companies organize tours and excursions on bus/dog sledge/etc to go chasing the Northern lights. Many of them include long time outside, or boring waiting in the bus, or cold weather, of uncomfortable cloths. But we found the great way to watch Northern lights in warm atmosphere of a boat, with a nice recently caught local-fish dinner. When the Northern light appeared, we could freely go outside to the deck of the boat and take as many pictures as we wanted. Therefore, we have many, and here are just some of them, before the selection process takes place :-) I must say, that when we saw it in the beginning, it did not look impressing at all, because the light was so weak. But after a while it started intensifying, and started dancing and changing colours. It was incredible to realize that we were so lucky to be able to see it! After hearing many people say that they have been lots of time to the North and have never seen it, how lucky are we! Anyway, people from the boat said that this winter they have seen it every day, except just one day. Actually, the day after, even in the city, we saw it once again, but it is not the same when you are in the muddle of the light-polluted city.

I was preparing to run this half-marathon for the last 3 months, and just 1 week before running I started having a horrible pain in my left leg, especially when I run and walk. I stopped training, and was a bit afraid of running in Tromsø. But I warmed up very well, took a paracetamol pill, use some warning gel on my legs, and started running. The first half on the race I was just thinking, why did I have to participate in something like that! I did not feel much pain in the leg, but after the first 10 km the nail on my toe made me suffer. That pain was, probably, worse than the leg pain (even though I did cut the nails before the race...), but it was already the way back, and I always try to be more positive on my way back. The funny thing was that when I was running the first half, There was always people around, running. But on the way back I felt that there was nobody but me (sometimes I thought I was the last one to run :-)) The wind was not very nice though... I never imagined, that the most difficult would be to run the last 3 km, suddenly all the muscles started hurting. But, somehow, I did manage to run to the finish line! 01:59:44.84 is the final net time. Not the best, but good enough.

The last day we just slept a lot, and after the breakfast started packing, Greta was helping a lot :-) We went for the last walk in the city, took some "day-light" pictures and enjoyed a good weather.

Good feeling of having things accomplished. Now I will have some rest before planning my next race, probably try to learn some downhill skiing, and just enjoy being back home and not such a bad weather here too.


  1. Hi.
    I'm doing some reseach on the Northern Lights and found your blog.
    I'm also going to Tromso with the goal to watch them and I was wondering if you have any advice.
    And could you get me the information on the boat tour you took to see the lights?
    I love your pictures! You seem to have had a lot of fun in the city!
    Did you take the Aurora pictures yourself? It's tricky, isn't it?
    Thank you so much!

  2. Hi, Barbara.
    Sorry for late answer. You probably went to Tromsø already, but anyway I will answer your questions.
    The boat we took is easy to see from the city center, near the sushi restaurant. They have some signs there so it is easy to recognize. We took the pictures ourselves, but you can see they are not perfect. You have to use long exposure times and the tripod, but the boat moves slightly, so we did not get really sharp pictures. We took the boat mostly because we were travelling with our daughter and we thought that would be the easiest for her. You can also go on a bus tour for chasing the northern lights, and probably some other options too.
    Sorry if this was not so helpful now in the middle of summer, but maybe you will still need some of this for next winter? Good luck, and thank you for visiting the blog.


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