Travel is the only thing that you can buy that makes you richer
The Arctic Circle- A Story of Lights and Love
As many of you know, Michael and I recently set off in search of the Northern Lights. It has always been my dream to see their majestic dance cross the night sky. As a little girl, I found myself watching countless hours of the travel channel and Discovery channel only wishing one day I would get the courage to chase them. Anyone who knows me well enough will tell you that I am a space nerd. (I was even nick-named the aurora- guru on our trip) I love the complexity and mystery is has to offer. On clear nights in Monroe (which isn't often) I sit outside on my balcony and dream of only seeing a shooting start. I usually know when the eclipses and showers are going to happen. Okay, back on track...
So I was showing Michael how much I love the auroras (which is every day) and he randomly said, "let's go". I was first shocked, but then elated.
Could all of my dreams possibly be coming true?
LONDON, UK On December 8th, 2014 we set off on our quest. We sat through a 10 hour layover, 3 delayed flights, much turbulence, sick people, and no sleep. We we landed in London, Gatwick we were beyond exhausted. Trying to figure out their transportation wouldn't have been so taxing if we had more rest.
We finally got to our hotel room at 6PM. It was already dark, but we decided to go explore. I wanted to go see the "pinterest famous Winter Wonderland". Upon arrival, I was pissed, it was cold, rainy, and I hated their public transportation. Michael was also feeling bad. But, we proceeded
To much disappointment, it was a teen-infested kiddie fair. The lights were beautiful, but it wasn't really our scene. So, we headed back to our hotel room to grub on a pizza. Which may I add, London does have some kicking pizza! We got 2 hours of rest, then proceeded to our next destination--
Sweden! ABISKO, SWEDEN
A few more hiccups later and we were in a beautiful Mountain Lodge. Our Louisiana bodies were not prepared for the shock of the -10C weather that we were about to encounter! After meeting with our group and eating some dinner, a guide led us on a snow-shoe trek. Honestly, this was my least favorite part. I was exhausted and it was really cold. On the way up the mountain, I lost a glove and fell several times. It was cold, snowing, and to make matters worse, no sign of the aurora any time soon. We both became very discouraged. When we made it to the top, the tour guide shared the cultural aspect of the auroras and we shared some lingon berry tea. Lingon berry is such a beauty berry and very tasty at that!
Today we set off to ice fish. We met traveling pal from America as well. This was pretty exciting considering we were the only Americans. We will call him Boston because I forgot his name. So, Michael, Boston and me set were first dropped off while the driver went to pick up the rest of crew. We waited and exchanged stories and listened to the water shift under the ice. It had to have been the craziest sound ever! When our guide arrived, he gave us these tiny little fishing poles. I knew then I wasn't going to like this! Eventually, someone caught an arctic char and we headed back to our rooms. We had lunch, then Michael asked me if I wanted to go to the Aurora Sky Station, or A.S.S lol. I was a little hesitant because it was expensive, but I finally convinced myself that it will be the best place to see the lights. When we arrived I had no idea what I was getting myself into...I had never been on a sky lift, much less anything like this! As a chair came squeaking down to us, I panicked.
Up, up, up...
When we arrived to the top, I was immediately relieved. The ride up was pretty stunning, just really cold and unsettling. We went inside a little restaurant and warmed up. Michael then asked me to climb up (another) mountain to see if we could catch some light action The snow was so deep. Several times we sunk knee deep and struggled to get back up. When we finally made it to the top and the started to perform Our friend, Boston and our other friend "English Guy" were up there as well. All four of us laid down in the snow (which surprising was warmer than standing up) and watched the auroras for hours. The whole time, there are dozens of shooting stars. We talked about how insignificant we felt and how the auroras made us reevaluate our lives. They came and went on and off until it was time to leave. Boston and English guy asked if we were ready and Michael hesitantly said, "I want to stay up here a little longer".
I had a slight feeling I knew what was coming next. The two guys then said, "okay we will wait then". They finally decided to leave. I then got a big lump in the pit of my stomach. Michael looked at me and said, "Maghen". I replied, "yes?". He then said, "It sure is pretty up here". I agreed. Then, I heard a bunch of shuffling. I looked over and he was on one knee. It was the most magical night of my life. Be on the lookout for more dets from the proposal in the "love"section.
Where the magic happened...
If you look closely you'll see tiny lights towards in the distance. that was the "first level" of the mountain trek.
Day 3 Today we set off on a Husky Aurora adventure. It was blistering cold outside and my confidence led me to believe I could handle it. I was quickly escorted inside to change my clothes. I was very grateful, my pride was spared. We set off with 4 people and 8 eager huskies. The ride wasn't as awkward as I thought. My eyelashes started to develop little flakes of snow and I couldn't feel my hands or feet. The ride was a lot of fun, but I was ready to get some warmth. We finally stopped about an hour later at a tent with a fire set up in the middle and had fika (swedish word for coffee break- they are serious about this!). On the way back, we sled over a frozen lake and saw some beautiful auroras dancing in the sky. It was about 2 in the afternoon and almost dark outside.
Day 4 Today was our last day in Abisko. We traveled to a small city named Kiruna to experience their native culture. The specific Sami village we visited were a reindeer family. We got to spend sometime learning about their heritage and even trying some reindeer. I know what you're thinking, yes I was delicious, and no I did not feel guilty.
Next, we headed off to Jukkasjärvi to stay at the infamous Ice Hotel. So, here's a little side story on why I really wanted to go to Sweden, well besides the Northern Lights. As a little girl, I was watching PBS and saw a segment on the Ice Hotel. I thought to myself, wow how amazing is that. They literally build this thing from top to bottom and tear it down at the end of winter. I would tell my friends, but no one really cared. I never really imaged I was able to go to this place. I had no idea that it was possible until I was actually there! It was beyond anything I could ever image. The art work was so incredibly intricate and stunning. We weren't able to book a room inside the actual hotel, and looking back I wish we had. I am grateful that we got to go inside the hotel and hang out for a while. When night started to roll around (~3pm) temperatures dropped, and I was glad to be in a warm hotel room with plenty of space for the night.
Day 5 Today was our last day in Sweden. It was bittersweet. Of course I didn't want to leave, but I was honestly ready for some sunshine. We headed back to London, spent the night, then woke up to head home.
I couldn't image a more perfect trip. I honestly think it changed me. There's something so magical about seeing the northern lights. It really makes you realize how much beauty there is to explore in and out of this world. Sure, I didn't get my trip to space like I'd hoped (this is going to happen!), but what I got was so much more. Not only am I getting married to my best friend, but also I have the most priceless experiences and memories to hold on to forever. Not many people can say they have seen the northern lights, but even less can say that their significant others planned a whole trip out of the country to proposed under them!