To an Australian like me, snow is a concept that is confined largely to storybook fantasy, barring that one time you went to the Snowy Mountains with your family. The great Arctic north, full of polar bears, northern lights and snowy mountains was something that captured my imagination when reading Phillip Pullman's His Dark Material series, and seemed to be confined to the world of dæmons and talking polar bears.
So is it really even possible to describe what I saw in Tromso, Norway with words? From the sun breaking out after a first day full of fog and zero visibility (which somehow also managed to be photogenic in its own way), the clouds clearing on our second and final night hunting for the Northern Lights, finding the Nord Norsk Kunst Museum as the perfect rest stop after our safari, complete with tea and biscuits, it really felt like the universe was trying its best to make sure I saw as many sides to Tromso as I could fit into the four days.
It's a default Trivia Pursuit 'fun fact' that the Inuit people have about 40 different words for snow, but I really saw what they meant in Norway. Fluffy, powder slow to make snow angels on, slippery icy roads that I slipped on and was on my back in 2 seconds (not a fun highlight, don't do that), thickly falling snowflakes (actual snowflakes with the patterns and everything) filling the air with rapid speed, sheets of ice over fjord water being gently broken up by waves, the icy mist of low-hanging clouds that makes Narnia woods of the bare winter trees. And, as if conscious of the fact, the Norwegians seemed to have collectively agreed to have at least one house painted bright red and yellows so that I caught my breath every time looking out at the landscape. And everything was always a different, new shade of blue, illuminated by every single kind of light you could imagine. The storybooks don't lie - there really are places on earth that look like this.
In the face of everything, seeing the Northern Lights almost felt a bit superfluous. But they also happened, and photos did not do them justice at all.
Thank you Norway, for my entire for my snow-related bucket list, for the things I didn't even realise were on my bucket list but have been ticked off now. You were truly out of this world.