The Scandinavians had been the primary to fall in love with Britpop – means earlier than anybody within the UK, so, because the bass participant with Britpop band Blur, I’ve spent quite a lot of time in Nordic nations through the years.
I’ve had spectacular nights on the razzle-dazzle in Stockholm, Helsinki and Oslo, and the countryside – which I stumbled upon unintentionally when taking part in at summer time festivals – is like nowhere else on Earth.
However I’ve by no means seen the Northern Lights and I really like deep winter, so I went on a 12-night, no-fly cruise from Southampton to Norway.
Tasting the air: Alex on the deck of the Aurora, which works from Southampton to Norway to see the Northern Lights
Cruising is like being on tour with a band. You flip up someplace, take your decide of one of the best issues on supply, then push off some other place.
After we stopped in Tromso, which appeared like a cool Creation calendar with all its doorways open.
Nordic stylish is the place it’s at proper now they usually actually perceive lighting, most likely as a result of it’s darkish for such lengthy durations. The solar units in Tromso on November 21 and it doesn’t return till February.
By dinner it was snowing onerous. Going someplace that’s colder than your deep freeze just isn’t everybody’s concept of enjoyable however one factor is for sure: meals by no means tastes fairly so good because it does while you’ve simply been outdoors in a blizzard.
It’s a singular delicacies they usually eat native, which makes quite a lot of sense within the Arctic. Transport is both costly or unimaginable and it’s onerous to develop something within the winter months so they’re large on preserved meals, many uncommon.
Magical show: Alex lastly makes his dream come true as he watches the Northern Lights for the primary time
Reindeer is as frequent as lamb within the UK – wealthy and livery tasting, however over the week I used to be served every little thing from the sport chook ptarmigan to native parmesan. When the waiter advised us the salmon was frozen, my coronary heart sank a bit of earlier than he defined that freezing is the pure means of preserving meals up right here and it was one of the best salmon I’ve ever had.
However that paled subsequent to the fermented cod. It bore about as a lot resemblance to fish as milk does to cheese – a unique class of mouthful.
It’s historically eaten with aquavit – pure, weapons-grade alcohol, straight off the nonetheless. And a beautiful factor an ice-cold glass of aquavit is, too, however for all that, it’s the greens that steal the present.
Perhaps as a result of they’re such a treasured useful resource, they’re cooked with love and a spotlight to element I’ve not seen anyplace else. Who thought swede may very well be scrumptious?
And I’ve by no means felt so hungry, maybe since you get quite a lot of train within the Arctic.
Maintaining heat on the mountain outdoors Alta whereas ready for the sunshine present to start
Even standing outdoors counts. You may style the air. It’s additionally the world’s greatest hangover treatment, which was lucky as a result of I’d stayed up late the night time earlier than dancing myself silly with mates I’d made in The Crow’s Nest, one of many bars on board.
Any type of pampering is enhanced by excessive circumstances and I took benefit of the on-board spa. The sauna had an unlimited window and as we travelled additional north, I spent quite a lot of time in there watching infinite pristine frozen landscapes roll by.
After two days at sea we arrived at Alta, one other trendy marvel of a metropolis and it was from there that I took a visit to the highest of a darkish, distant mountain to get one of the best view of the Northern Lights, the Aurora Borealis.
Candles lit the way in which to a wigwam with a roaring fireplace at its coronary heart. Shortly after my second cup of scorching chocolate the primary stars started to appear.
Ten minutes later I used to be in a position to spot the Plough, after which the sky lit up inexperienced in a phantasmagorical show so spectacular it produced gasps and cries. The Milky Means striped the sky from horizon to horizon, the veil of night time, bottomlessly profound.
What has made the acute north particular for me is the sensation of scale it offers: the sense of being on an precise planet floating completely balanced in an unexplainable universe so huge and great it makes you giddy.
That was the sensation I wished and the rationale I got here to this nice wilderness. And I’m very glad I did and I’ll undoubtedly come again as a result of after asking myself ‘Why would anybody wish to stay right here?’ on the crusing out, I obtained a sense I don’t get fairly often – that I might keep right here for ever.
Even in nowadays of a shrinking world the place issues are extra related wherever we go, the far north stays one other world altogether.
P&O Cruises (pocruises.com) has a 12-night cruise on Aurora from £999pp. Departing November 3, 2019, the worth contains full-board and leisure. Departing from and returning to Southampton, ports of name are Andalsnes, Tromso (in a single day in port), Alta (in a single day in port) and Stavanger.