First Day in Abisko
There are two train stations in Abisko: Abisko Turiststation and Abisko Östra. We chose the latter because it’s closer to the accommodation where we stayed: Abisko Guesthouse.
Speaking of accommodation, there are several options available in Abisko depending on your budget and preference. However, as the demand is really high, especially in the peak seasons like winter and midsummer, you need to book them in advance. Otherwise, they will all have already booked out before you know it 😄.
Three months prior to departure is the minimum time recommended by regular travellers. I booked a private apartment in Abisko Guesthouse in October 2019, 4 months before our trip last February. And I’m so glad I chose this accommodation to stay. Since the very beginning, Rasa, one of the owners, had been really accommodating. She helped me finding the right type of accommodation for a family who travel with small kids like us, helped me choosing the suitable activities in Abisko and even offered extra services.
Most of the rooms in Abisko Guesthouse are sharing facilities, such as shower, lounge, WC and fully equipped kitchens. But they have private apartment as well. This option was perfect for us because we have our own bedroom with access to our own kitchen, living room and bathroom. The guesthouse is also conveniently located, only a stroll away from the train station (150m) and from the only supermarket in the area: Godisfabriken, the must visit place to stock up your necessities (and your confectionery dose 😄). At the reception, you will also find a souvenir shop where you can buy various things ranging from postcard and magnet to coffee capsule and reindeer meat.
After checking in, my first born could not wait to play in the snow. So we just stored our bags, had lunch then went out to play. If you come to Abisko on winter, make sure you follow the three layers of clothing guidance: base layer (wool), mid layer (wool or fleece or mixed), then outer layer (overall). Never wear cotton as it doesn’t keep your body heat. But if you don’t have such clothes, especially the overall, and don’t want to invest on them, you can just rent it from the accommodations in Abisko. In our case, we brought our own clothes but we borrowed more proper winter shoes from the guesthouse which cost us nothing.
Once we properly geared up, the kids were heading straight to the pile of snow. It was still snow showering but the temperature was just -6 that day so it’s not too cold to play outside. Klas, the other owner of the guesthouse lent us a sledge so my kids were having a blast.
When the sun was about to set, we went to the supermarket to buy some groceries. We had brought some from Lund already but of course they were not enough as we were going to stay for days. Then we had dinner, watched something on TV and I kept on peeking outside my window, hoping to see something on the sky. At 8 pm, my husband and our first daughter decided to go out to see if there’s aurora that night. When they came back it’s already past 9pm so the kids went to bed right away while the parents watched a football match on TV 😀
We didn’t expect to see Aurora that night to be honest, because it was cloudy until 9pm and there was a snow storm at 10pm. From what I read, it takes a dark and clear sky to catch a glimpse of aurora. But as a natural phenomenon, of course we cannot control such thing to be easily predicted.
At around 11pm I peeked outside my window and realised people were going out and pointing out something on the sky. I looked up and saw this weak green light, swirling, dancing, getting stronger and clearer in a matter of seconds. I shouted to my husband: “Oh my God, oh my God, it’s happening,” then he joined me seeing the beautiful northern light from the window.
For minutes we just stood there in awe. Then we realised we had to go out while it’s still there. But what about the kids? They were all fast asleep. So, we decided to take turn. Zaki suggested me to go first because he needed to set up his camera, and he knows what this experience means to me. As I grabbed my winter gear, I heard him saying: “Oh my God. It’s so beautiful. Hurry up, honey.”
I then ran downstairs, looked above the guesthouse, and there it was. The giant green lights, danced gracefully, reminded me of how small I am and how great God is. That moment I burst into tears. I coudn’t even say something. It’s just so majestic and captivating. I tried desperately to capture it with my phone and my camera, but the result was none. The picture below is the only picture that I could take during my encounter with Aurora Borealis. So I just enjoyed it for a bit more then went back to the apartment to give Zaki his turn, while hoping that Zaki would be able to capture it with his camera and his skill. But when he went down, it had already gone. There was no more light show in the sky. Zaki waited for couple of minutes but it didn’t come back.
And that’s the thing about Aurora chasing.
We can never be 100% sure about where and when to see it. Yes, the more we go north, the more the chances. Yes, it takes at least dark and clear sky. You can even use this website to increase the opportunity to spot aurora but again, it’s not guaranteed. Most of the time, it’s more about luck. We were indeed so lucky to be able to see aurora that night. Considering that we didn’t prepare well (we didn’t installed the aurora chasing app for example) and 2020 is actually not a good year to see aurora as it is at the lower end of the solar cycle, meaning the number of sunspots are limited (less solar activity). Also, we were lucky because we were still up that night. A fellow traveler told me the next day that she had been in Abisko for a week and didn’t see aurora because that night she went to bed early. So it’s really a matter of luck. Despite the lack of picture, we are so grateful to have this once in a lifetime experience.