Daily Archives: Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Not so grim up north (of the Arctic Circle)

“Ladies and gentlemen – you can now see the northern lights off the port bow.”  The on-board restaurant emptied in seconds, and a hundred or so travellers from more temperate climes charged out onto the observation deck – into a temperature of about -10oC – to witness the spectacle.

Like almost everyone else on board the M/S Nordkapp, I had come to Arctic Norway in December to try and see these highly charged electrons from the solar wind interacting with oxygen and nitrogen atoms in the upper atmosphere over the pole.  And very pretty it was too.  However, quite apart from experiencing nature’s own firework display in the night sky, and the spectacular coastline of Troms and Finnmark in the winter twilight, I also found out that we were to be the subject of a PhD thesis.  A collaboration between the Psychology and Tourism Studies departments of Tromsø University was researching tourists’ experiences on the trip, and in particular how witnessing the high arctic landscape impacted upon our attitudes and our interests.

Now if you read this blog at all frequently you’ll realise that this is pretty much what I do.  I go somewhere to have a look round and talk to local people – call it what you like I’m still a tourist at some level – and then write about the impact it has had on my attitudes and interests. So I was immediately fascinated. Read more on Not so grim up north (of the Arctic Circle)…