Discovering Norway’s Arctic Secrets

Everybody that comes to the Norwegian arctic makes their own memories, their own story.  Sometimes, the stories of discovering the arctic are long and complex, like, “I moved here several years ago” or “I came to study at the university and never left”.

Other times, the stories begin, “I was there for a weekend,” “I spent my honeymoon there”, or “I finally got a chance to see the northern lights.” And while those stories are shorter, they can be just as powerful as the ones that involve a major change in location.

You never know when you’ll stumble over a moment that makes you realize you are somewhere special. For some people, it’s the view from a mountaintop or over the vast and empty wilderness plain, or an unexpected swoop of the northern lights overhead in the sky. Or maybe something smaller, like suddenly realizing as you gaze into a wood fire along a forest bicycle trail, that you can’t remember the last time you felt so peaceful, so connected to the land around you.

Jon Brown, a composer from the USA, took a tour up to this area last winter to listen to new sounds and get new ideas and perspectives. The video of his time discovering Tromsø, Alta and points in between shows that he did more than just collect sounds.

Take a look at the video and watch his experiences!  For us, it’s about seeing familiar faces and places. For you… maybe you’ll want to come do some discovering of your own.

Winter is… on the way

You know, for most of my adult life I’ve been able to say “Winter is coming” without shame, but suddenly it has become a terrible cliche. Thanks for nothing, George R. R. Martin.

Anyway, winter is coming. I know, it’s only early September now, but the light is changing already. Even though the midnight sun left us just a month or so ago, it is fully dark at night, now, and the daytime light is golden in the evening. In the daytime, it’s still bright but somehow thinner in strength. holmen-hostThe air holds a crisp and edgy warning of harsher weather to come. The rain of autumn feels different from the rain of summer, too. It’s colder, or at least adds to the feeling that the temperatures are falling, no matter what the thermometer might say. And when the rain is finished coming down, it still lingers on the ground and in the air, almost as if it wished it could turn to snow and ice and be a part of the world all the way until Springtime. Continue reading “Winter is… on the way”

Everyday Arctic Life in Alta

Less than a hundred years ago, movie theater newsreels provided one of the only practical ways people could peer into the everyday life (real or imagined) of other countries. Fifty years ago, television was common but we still needed National Geographic or a news agency to go out with a big crew and do filming.

Now we have GoPro, camera drones, and digital photography and video on everything from phones to glasses. An ordinary PC finally has enough horsepower to do video editing. Everybody can make video and pictures, and almost everybody does, these days. Continue reading “Everyday Arctic Life in Alta”

Blog Friends: A Dangerous Business

There’s a whole new industry out there: travel blogging. People travel from place to place, writing on their blog about their experiences, sharing photos and tweets and stories on social media, and giving travelers-to-be and traveler-wannabe’s alike a glimpse into the wonderful world around us.

Now and then, some of them even come through Alta. Whether they arrive as part of a prearranged tour or by their own planning, we often meet them either through North Adventure by request, or when they drop into the tourist office next to us, here. Sometimes, they simply go on tours and then depart town; but now and then we get some time together, to explore a little or just chat.

In February, Amanda Williams of the blog “A Dangerous Business” came to Alta along with Marie-Eve Vallieres of “To Europe & Beyond” as part of a Northern Norway tour. Though the weather was not always so great – this is the arctic, after all – they were good sports and had fun. They also said some very nice things about Alta and Tromsø; and even though that’s not a surprise to us, we were pleased that they were glad they came. Continue reading “Blog Friends: A Dangerous Business”

Aurora Hunting, Crash-and-Burn Edition

The aurora borealis – the northern lights – is a very popular topic in the area.  After all, Alta is “The City of the Northern Lights”, so it’s no surprise that people would be coming here for a chance to see it in the winter. We get lots of questions every year from people hoping to maximize their chances of seeing the fascinating natural phenomenon.

Aurora Borealis near Alta, photo altafoto.noWe are done with nighttime now – the sky last night at midnight was still a glowing twilight – and seeing the aurora is a thing of memory until next September.  It might seem a little late to be writing about the northern lights, but the planning for next year’s holiday never stops and we’re already fielding inquiries for next year.

So here is a little story, written out in FAQ form, compiled from conversations that I have now and then with travelers.  Hope you get a chuckle.

Q: Hi there!  We want to come to Alta because we really want to see the northern lights!

Great!

Q: Right!  So, what time of year is best?

Well… the problem is that the aurora strength has nothing to do with time of year, and the weather is totally unpredictable. So really, your chances are equal as long as it’s dark enough. Anytime between the end of September and the beginning of April is just fine.

Q: But this will be a very expensive trip, so we really need to maximize our chances.  Just give me an idea of what time of year is best? Continue reading “Aurora Hunting, Crash-and-Burn Edition”

Sorrisniva Gears Up For Winter

Winter isn’t just important for Sorrisniva, one of the activity companies here in Alta. In a way, it’s a necessity.

The history of the company is long. Sorrisniva is a family business originally built around fishing in the Alta River for salmon. The river is regarded as one of the premier fly-fishing spots in the world, and it has been on the “must” list for royalty and the well-to-do for centuries. As the years passed and the family generations changed, the company expanded its focus to include other activities in both summer and winter.

Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel from the outside
Photo: Sorrisniva

Today, travelers probably know Sorrisniva best as the home of the Igloo Hotel. Continue reading “Sorrisniva Gears Up For Winter”

An Arctic Morning’s Commute in Alta

Something about “the simple things”… a reminder about being lucky.  And now in mid-November here in Alta, the fast-dwindling light is beginning to turn blue again – that’s not a trick of the camera!

The morning commute to North Adventure in arctic Alta, Norway

Alta’s city center is just around the corner to the right – another five minutes’ walk ahead would put you right in the “bustling metropolis.” Even with 20,000 people in town, you’re never more than a few minutes from quiet roads that beckon toward the wilderness beyond.

“What Can You Do in Alta?” – Winter 2016 edition

When people ask what one can do in Alta, it’s easy to just answer “a lot”.  We could be a little less snappy and say, “Northern Lights, dogsledding, snowmobiles, hiking and biking and snowshoes, ice fishing, the Igloo Hotel, museums and slate quarries and tours and eating.”

But sometimes it helps to be more specific and say THESE tours are available at THESE times. And since we like being helpful 🙂 you can take a look at the digital version of our Winter 2016 brochure – yes, in full and delightful color – and get a better view of what you can do.

You can see the pdf here: Winter 2016 Brochure, english

Need some motivation? Here’s an awesome picture of a husky dog by Stefan Dahlqvist:

Husky dog northern lights

One of the “simple things”…

If you look around in picture groups on Facebook and Instagram, you discover some amazing photographs of the nature in the area. Professional and amateur photographers alike find great success creating art from the surroundings, and it’s no surprise; this truly is a wondrous and wild environment.

But sometimes one gets a feeling of being lucky without a grand panorama. This morning, staring out my kitchen window in the middle of town, it suddenly occurred to me that even this ordinary view, without special lighting or a theme or any setup, made me feel really fortunate to be here.  There’s a tremendous sense of serenity after a new snow, with the world so quiet and fresh and beautiful, and for a moment all the conflicts and problems and noise falls away and you feel, just for that instant, like everything is going to be okay.

kitWin01