The Tourist From the Light

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Underage Drinking Island — Terschelling: Lots of Dutch teenagers go there to drink in summer as the pile up of crates outside their tents testify.

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Beer Sex Rum — Sexbierum: I mean, the town is called sex bier rum. What did you expect? Eleven Hamlets — Leeuwarden: Starting and finishing city of the Elfstedentocht. Ice Skating Stadium : Heerenveen: Known for its ice skating rink. Watergate — Sneek: Home of the famous water port. There are a lot of these on the map. An Amsterdam seal in the Zeehonden Centrum. Noord Seals — Pieterburen: Home of the Zeehondencentrum. Afterparty — Groningen: Bars in the city have no mandated closing hours and many stay open until 5. Hot Tubs — Bad Nieuweschans: Known for its thermal spas. The area is known for being the last hangout of Dutch communists.

Asylum Centre — Ter Apel: The city has a large asylum centre. Drenthe Noordas — Assen: As opposed to the Zuidas business district.

Abisko - Northern Light Hike

Stonehenge — Hunebedden D27 : The location of the most prominent of these rock structures which are sometimes referred to as the Dutch Stonehenge. Artis Noordoost — Emmen. Artis is the zoo in Amsterdam and Emmen boasts Wildlands. Mosquito — Meppel: Apparently this area is known for its mosquitoes. The people of the city once thought the church tower was on fire.

Turns out, just a swarm of mosquitoes. Overijssel Venice Noord — Giethoorn: The tiny town is sometimes called the Venice of the North for its usage of canals for transport.

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Amish — Staphorst: Could be any number of small towns in this conservative part of the Bible Belt. Hard Mountain — Hardenberg: Literal translation of the town name. Camping — Kampen: Literal translation of the town name. Cookie — Deventer: The city is famous for its long history of baking. Batman — Bathem: Sounds kinda close to Batman, we guess? Traffic Light — Almelo: This is a reference to a bit by Dutch comedian Herman Finkers who once joked that the only thing that ever happened in this town was that the traffic light changed.

Danish Camp — Denekamp: Another literal translation. Dirty — Goor: Another literal translation. Inbreed — Urk: The former island turned peninsula has a bit of a reputation for not liking outsiders. And, also, trafficking cocaine. Nieuw Oost — Almere: Same as above but can afford to live in Almere. Nothing to do with toilets, of course although we are sure it will have quite a number of fancy ones. Animals — Dieren: Literal translation. Backcorner — Achterhoek: Literal translation.


Also, a literal location. Flipje — Tiel: Home of the jam factory which used Flipje as a mascot. Atop Mount Nuolja, the Aurora Sky Station delivered dramatic views of the glittering town below, situated in a valley beside a black-as-coal lake. But overhead there were only clouds, heavy and wet, accompanied by an arctic wind whipping up shards of ice and snow. A few foolhardy aurora-chasers knelt beside camera tripods staked in the snow, while wiser souls huddled near the mountain hut for a modicum of warmth or retreated to the mediocre cafe within.

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Lying on my back in the snow, staring fruitlessly for hours at grayscale clouds, the hunt for the northern lights felt like a farce. Since auroras can be elusive, travelers are wise to incorporate activities into the hourslong night-sky vigil. Around Kiruna in northern Sweden, for example, most traditional winter pastimes have been adapted to the aurora hunt. Kerstin Nilsson, who together with her husband runs Ofelas, an Icelandic horse-riding business on a farm outside Kiruna, created one of the first such pairings when they began nighttime aurora-on-horseback tours in Today you can also hunt aurora on sleigh-rides and snowshoe tours, chase the lights aboard roaring snowmobiles or on sleds pulled by huskies sailing across frozen lakes.

Or supplement the northern lights with a cultural excursion for an introduction to Sapmi, the traditional land of the indigenous Sami people and their roaming reindeer herds. In , two Sami photographers, Anette Niia and Ylva Sarri, founded Scandinavian Photoadventures , which offers aurora-focused wilderness tours, photo expeditions and cultural experiences flavored by songs and stories that have been passed down through generations. Niia said.

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You were alone with a fire in the forest together with your family. Many Sami were fearful of the northern lights, Ms. Niia recalled, laughing. And when it started to move, then we got really scared and ran home. Love the idea of the lights but not the freezing cold? An increasing number of arctic lodging options promise views of the night sky from bed, ranging from innovative bubble tents to glass-ceiling huts.

After the fruitless night I spent shivering on the mountaintop in Abisko, it felt luxurious to look for the lights from inside a SkyNest, one of two cozy, lemming-shaped cabins with transparent walls and ceilings in rural Kurravaara. Admittedly, most aurora watching occurred not from bed, but outside where no branches obstructed the awe-inspiring tableau. Inside, with my toes on a space heater, I could survey the sky, and whenever a vague shimmer appeared through the window, pull on my boots and coat, and crunch through the snow onto the frozen river.

Sometimes the gleam faded quickly, but just as often it crescendoed into a turbulent chaotic flow, wisps of green and pink twirling across the night sky. And when the humbling show eventually dissolved into nothingness, mere minutes after it had begun, only a dozen steps returned me to the warmth of the cabin. Many cruise lines now also pursue the aurora. Hurtigruten guarantees that passengers on its day Astronomy Voyage along the Norwegian coast will see the lights.

If not, the next cruise is free.

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According to the company, all six sailings in sold out. The terrella enables the museum to create its own artificial aurora. Kristian Birkeland, the pioneering Norwegian physicist, used a terrella in in an experiment that illustrated how an aurora takes place.

An intoxicating experience. Bakken observes that it is difficult for residents of northern Norway to understand how powerful it is for someone to see the northern lights for the first time. They looked almost intoxicated.

Her visit did a great deal to promote the idea of travelling to experience the aurora. But the first celebrity tourist to visit the north was probably the French prince, Louis Philippe. The prince returned to France in the s and ascended to the throne. He then decided to equip a ship for an expedition to northern Norway and Svalbard. Their assignment was to study the northern lights, including measuring their altitude.

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