Bjorkliden and Abisko
Bjorkliden is a small village in northern Sweden and it is north of the Arctic Circle. The village itself is famous for a ski resort and cabins, however; there is also a small partner hostel for those trying to budget (like me). Unfortunately check-in for the hostel during February was on top of the mountain and it was really a bitch to hike up with bags. Anyways, I had my own private room for about sixty dollars a night (housing in this area isn't cheap). The first night I arrived from Stockholm, I was so exhausted and I just wanted to collapse because of the train ride. However, by looking at the weather I knew that that night would be the best for watching the Northern Lights. At around ten o'clock I went outside and tried to look for the lights. However, the way the residents of Bjorkliden dug out the town, they made giant piles of snow along the road. Because it was windy, the snow was blowing off of these piles and I was blinded. Because of my exhaustion and frustration with not being able to see, I gave up and decided to try again the next night. The second day I headed over to Abisko National Park. Unfortunately, the passenger train only comes through the town twice a day and it wasn't the easiest to get over to Abisko (11 km down an icy road). Luckily, I managed to hitch a ride with a man driving past it but I spent the majority of my day worrying about how to get back. Abisko has a load more activities than Bjorkliden has - hiking, frozen lake access, dog sledding, a cable car for watching the sky, beautiful foregrounds for photographing the lights, a great restaurant, and activities organized by the local tourist office. I was able to keep myself occupied for the day and it was a beautiful place to wander, especially with the powerful blue skies. I had a buffet lunch at the hotel and it consisted of reindeer meatballs, yum! I took two trips with the tourist office, one was about the Sami People (the local indigenous tribes) and the second was a photography course of the Northern Lights. The Sami People tour was definitely interesting because we got to eat reindeer jerky, see the traditional houses, and learn about how people used to survive the Arctic. The photography course was interesting but eventually pointless because the lights didn't show the whole night. /sigh. I managed to hitch a ride back with the photographer to my hostel at least.
The third day was my lazy day. I just wandered around the village, read, and did mostly nothing waiting for the night. Around 9 PM I went outside and went onto the dark road. Alas, I found the lights. The wind wasn't too bad and therefore, I was able to easily walk around and try to photograph the lights for about an hour before I lost them for the night.