I wrapped up my post of ice hotel photos about 2:30 this morning. Restless from a post-dinner espresso, I kept checking the sky out our cabin window for aurora. I checked twice, gave up, lay down. Checked one more time. Saw the green come shimmering across the sky over the snow wall and ran to get Sydney and the camera. Robert joined us and we spent about 40 minutes watching one huge wave of green swirl and dance across the river, overhead, beyond the horizon and rising moon. These are not the greatest pics but I want to share regardless, as it's something I know we'll never forget. The sled dogs were howling in the mountains across the river and it is obnoxious to keep saying "magical" all the damn time, I know, but. Yeah. Magical. I had hoped beyond hope for Sydney to see the lights during this trip. She was gobsmacked.
This morning we said farewell to our little Olaf outside our cabin.
We headed across the street to a fine example of a Swedish hotel breakfast: a little bit of everything.
The sky started lightening by 9 am and even though the sun never comes up this time of year, we still had a stunning light show all morning long. As we went to leave the hotel, we heard the cacophony of sled dogs. Here they are, raring to go. I thought they'd be huge, fluffy dogs, but they are small and strong and eager and LOUD.
My mother-in-law spent a year in the nearby town of Kiruna when she was young and told us about a beautiful old church in Jukkasjärvi. The sky was on fire when we came up to the church and I took a few shots and a short video of the sky and the howling sled dogs in the distance.
The church is 400 years old, and has a stunning mural inside.
This area was the land of the Sami people, the indigenous people of northern Scandinavia. Next to the old church is the Reindeer Lodge at Nutti Sámi Siida. There is an outdoor museum with examples of Sami architecture and information about their cultural traditions and the sad history with other cultures on their land. The Sami are also known for their reindeer herding. We were able to buy a sack of lichen and go into the pen with several reindeer to feed them. They were totally friendly and even let us pet them, at least until the lichen was gone.
With daylight fading fast, we headed back south, towards our holiday in Haparanda. The sky was glorious for hours. We put on the Frozen soundtrack and sang along, still grinning stupid grins at our unbelievable luck with our one night in the Arctic Circle.