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Chasing the Aurora - Aaaron on a mission I'll begin this TR while I have another 25 min at a lounge here in ARN.

A bit of background, about two years ago I made a commitment to myself to visit 30 countries by my 30th birthday.  I had been to about 6 at the time, maybe fewer.  Fast forward nearly two years, and I was 3 months shy of my birthday and sitting pretty at 23 countries.  I always said I would just rail around Europe if I ran out of time, so I planned a quick trip to Vienna, Bratislava, and Prague.  That din't happen for a few reasons so I switched to Scandinavia, as seeing the Northern Lights has been my top bucket list item for 20+ years.

I did a bit of research and found that none of the northern cities in Norway, Sweden, or Finland have flights to each other.  For example, if you want to fly from Tromso in northern Norway to Kittila in northern Finland, you fly down to OSL, over to HEL, then up to Kittila.  So I looked into a one way car rental.  Nope... drop off fees cost upwards of a thousand dollars.

At the same time I heard about the original IceHotel out side of Kiruna, Sweden, and decided I needed to do it for the story.  Shortly thereafter a popular FB video (https://www.facebook.com/UNILADAdventure/videos/1956306338032177/) caught my eye about a hotel called the Northern Lights Ranch in northern Finland.  Google maps said it was about a 3.5-4 hour drive from Kiruna.  Booked.

The city of Narvik in Norway was about a 2.5 hour drive, so Kiruna became my hub to visit all three countries.  After reading up a bit, I booked a rental car, the hotels, and moved to the flights.

I booked EWR-ARN-KRN in J on SAS for 70k UA exactly 22 days out, but in retrospect I should have used AC.  Oh well.  I wasn't sure how I was getting home, but was trying to fly through MUC to visit Dachau.  That didn't happen and at the last minute a seat on the LH flight from FRA to IAD on the Queen opened in F, and I grabbed it (70k AC) with a connection from ARN on LH as well.  The connecting flight from KRN wasn't at a good time, so I booked a Norwegian flight Rev from KRN down to ARN.

Now to the actual trip.  Last Wednesday I hopped on a train from Baltimore to EWR, and hopped on the direct flight to ARN.  I only had a 50 hour layover, which was shortened to 35 due to a late arrival, but made in to the next terminal and through passport control and security in about 10-15 minutes.  ARN is beautiful, btw.

Landed in KRN in the morning and picked up my car, which was obviously outfitted in studded snow tires.  I splurged on an automatic with AWD to make myself a bit more comfortable with the amount of driving I was doing.

I need to go catch my flight to FRA, but here are some teaser pics of the first hotel, the Northern Lights Ranch. http://www.theranch.fi/








January 14, 2018, 12:05:14 PM
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