Watching the Aurora Borealis dance into the sky is a dream for all the travellers. It is the first and the biggest wish on every traveller’s bucket list. The Northern Lights or the Aurora Borealis is a feeling that can leave you entranced the moment they begin to dance. It is a breathtaking yet a surreal sight that makes your heart skip its beat and hair stand on their end literally!!!
Yourtravelgenie.in first fulfilled this dream for sixteen lucky folks early this year in March who joined us on an Arctic Adventure with hope and spark in their eyes to make this dream come alive and it did come true not once but twice. Here’s an exciting story of our last Arctic Adventure to Murmansk – an offbeat destination, less heard and the road less taken.
Our first day in Murmansk was all about exploring the town. Where the cities of Russia are bubbling with crowds and busy streets, Murmansk is a quiet and silent town. Covered with snow, this town looks remarkably beautiful and gorgeous. The roads are smooth and clear, lined with trees on both sides. These trees have no leaves on them and look uncommonly and picturesque while driving or take a walk on these roads. Our Travel Genie began the adventure with a town tour by taking us, the happy bunch of larks to Lenin – the world’s first nuclear powered surfaced ship and civilian vessel.
Lenin stands mighty and tall as a museum ship in Murmansk. From 1960 to 1965, the Lenin covered over 85,000 miles during the Arctic Navigation season of which 65,000 were through the ice. The crew on board was welcoming and very informative. We learnt many facts about the vessel and also saw various machinery on board.
We then headed to monument Zhduschaia or the Statue of the Waiting Woman and learnt about how the woman stood there waiting for her sailor husband to come back from his sail. This spot gives you a beautiful sunset and mesmerising pictures. At a walking distance from this statue, stands the tall Alyosha Monument. We stopped there for a while and took pictures there too.
The real fun began in the night. Everyone clad themselves in the snow boots and layers of warm clothing to survive -36 degree Celcius and to start with the Aurora Hunting. The weather was bone-chilling but the enthusiasm, our clothes and the Russian Vodka kept everyone extremely warm. We drove somewhere around forty to fifty miles away from the main town and took a halt at this point where the Aurora Borealis is prominent. We saw a gazillion stars that night with clear skies. Our insides jumped with joy at the thought of seeing the Northern Lights and a few minutes later, our photographer showed us this faint green light in the sky and we all swooned with joy. We forgot the cold; we were high on happiness. One by one we took the clicks and saw a streak of the Northern Lights which was quite prominent. Our first attempt gave us hope for a positive second attempt to see the Dance of the Aurora Borealis. That night, everyone had a happy sleep.
The next morning, we woke up and left early to visit the fairyland straight from a fairy-tale – The Sami Village or the Russian Lapland. An expanse of thick and spotless white snow is what we saw on our way. The sun shone bright and it made the white snow look golden in the morning. It was indeed a morning to wake up to. We reached the Russian Lapland and were greeted by the Sami Leader who was clad in his colourful, Sami attire. He was both warm and welcoming. He gathered us all in a room and explained to us about the Sami culture and the Sami village. We got acquainted with their lifestyle and learnt how they survive the cold and extreme weather conditions of Murmansk. The interiors were laid with the bearskin that had attacked their village a couple of years back and how they were killed and the skinned from their bones.
We began the tour with an introduction to the Deities of Sami folks and paid our homage to them. One represented good health, one wealth, one good fortune, one destiny and one love. We then met the most-awaited and adorable creatures. Out from the woods, came five beautiful and white reindeer. We couldn’t hold our excitement when we met them. We fed them bread, chased them to into the woods and took many pictures with them. Never did we know that these reindeer would be such good selfie posers.
After the pictures, we were taken to another snowfield where we enjoyed the thrills of sledging with the reindeer. Remember, “Dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open sleigh, over the fields we go, laughing all the way…..” That moment was inexplicable in so many ways but it made even the oldest one in our clan behave like a baby. Followed by videos and peels of laughter, we gathered again for a Sami Lunch in the Russian Lapland. We had the Sami Bread and Salmon Soup. It was a fulfilling and utterly delicious meal followed by the Sami Tea. We ate our bread and finished the stew until the very last drop.
Post lunch, we indulged in some Sami Shenanigans. We played the tug of war and the Sami Football match. The day past by with the blink of an eye. Having taken pictures and memories galore, we bid Dasvidaniya to the Sami people and came back to our Hotel. There was a mall at a walking distance from our Hotel. We went there and to our surprise, it had crazy shopping to offer. The women went bananas while the men hit the bar. Everyone sat together as one big family and enjoyed a lavish dinner with scrumptious offerings on the table. That night everyone got drunk to their heart’s content and indulged in mirth until wee hours of the morning.
The following morning, we left for our Arctic Adventure. This day was the highlight of our entire trip and marked the most memorable day of everyone’s life. We left early morning for Teriberka, Kola Peninsula. Also known as the edge of the world, we began for our Arctic Adventure. The drive was long and full of beautiful horizons. We saw golden light gleaming from the farthest end of the road and kissing the sky. The sunrise was indeed a sight to marvel at. We saw the graveyard of the ships on our way.
The graveyard of the ships is a tiny town on the shores of the Barents Sea with cemetery wooden ships and their ruined remains probably from the early twentieth century. We saw the ships and had a ghastly and dilapidated feeling in the deepest pits of our gut.
Teriberka welcomed us with a lanky dog sitting in the middle of nowhere. He was a friendly one and greeted us all by jumping around us while wagging its tail. We saw snowmobiles there in a corner. We booked two snowmobiles and took a ten-minute ride to take a click at the edge of the world.
If you have heard about the adrenaline rush, that’s what we felt there riding on the coastline of the Arctic Ocean engulfed with snow on all sides. With a temperature that could give one frostbite, we stood there with smiles on our face and saw icy waves crash against not snow but ice-covered rocks and felt joy bubbling and pumping out from every artery in the body. The Arctic Adventure was the one that would bring a smile on our face for the rest of our life.
Never in our lives had we seen a beach covered in snow. Sitting there, looking at the waves gave us mixed feelings. Some went into deep introspection while some couldn’t stop but gaze at the beauty that mother nature has to offer.
After bidding goodbye to Teriberka, we headed for our sojourn to Aurora Village where our humble abode was a glass igloo. As mentioned above, we were transported to a fairyland once again. Never had we thought that we would be crashing under the view of the Northern Lights that night at a place that was covered with snow all around.
Each igloo was shared among four people. We got chocolates and champagne complimentary. We took a walk near these igloos and took several pictures. We were happy that we had done our research before coming. Murmansk has a polar night every winter where there is no sunrise for forty days. The dark night could have made us miss many things that we had explored otherwise. The luck was in our favour and the prediction said that we might spot the Aurora Borealis that night.
We nestled in the igloo with blankets and shared our stories with our roommates. The bubbly kicked the bubbly mode in us and we were all tipsy. That night we feasted on our theplas and ready-mix food in our rooms. We also binged on a few barbecue snacks but Dal Chawal had never tasted so divine until that night.
The clock struck midnight and there was not a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis. Not one. We were yearning literally and praying hard to catch one glimpse of the lights and then the lights appeared at 12:40 AM. Our Travel Genie tapped on our glass window and we all went out to see the marvel. One streak after another and then the Northern Lights danced. There were drums in the air as she started to dance, every soul that stood there kept time with their hands.
That moment was out of the world and something no words could ever describe the feeling we all experienced. The joy was immense and felt deep within. I was happy from the bottom of my heart. We had jaw drops at this wonder of nature. Some folks kissed under the lights while some wiped tears of joy from their eyes. There was something very good with our stars that we saw the lights dance all night long.
Everyone in our group had one ikigai and we followed our ikigai all the way to Murmansk with our Travel Genie. When we saw the dream dancing in front of our eyes, we felt blessed and thankful for everything that night. We slept under the view of the Northern Lights.
Everyone woke up as happy as a lark the following morning. There was happiness on each face and laziness had taken the backseat. We thanked the staff and began for the last leg of our Murmansk adventure – The Husky Farm.
The cute, friendly, furry, snuggly and adorable huskies were going to be our playmates and playdates that day. We were introduced to eighty-nine ferocious and beastly looking huskies who were as cute as little puppies. We saw Siberian Huskies, odd-eyed Huskies with one eye blue in colour and the other brown and many other varieties in of the Husky breed.
Their breeder introduced us to all of them one by one and explained to us about their behaviour, nature, eating habits and mating. She also showed us a couple of videos over a round of tea and refreshments and made us understand the dogs’ exercises. We were surprised to know how one Husky could run up to two hundred kilometres in one day.
After having taken pictured with these babies, we went sledging with them. Each sledge was pulled by some nine huskies. That time, we saw the beast in them unleashed and they carried us with all their vigour and energy. We took n number of pictures with them and canoodled with those furry little(not so little) creatures for hours and hours. Their eyes were so beautiful that we thawed like ice does in water and we just couldn’t get enough of them. Our last night in Murmansk awaited us so we took our last minute ‘picture pawfect’ snaps with them, gave them some ‘chesticle roobs’ and bid them ‘pawsome goodbyes’.
The last night in Murmansk was full of happiness, memories and Russian delights. The food was immaculate and impeccably succulent. We feasted on caviar and sushi too. The spirits in the glass kept pouring and our spirit animal kept soaring. We celebrated for having found our ikigai and thanked our Travel Genie for alleviating all our woes and elevating our spirit with a thrilling and memorable adventure.