Even for regular visitors to the northern wastelands, witnessing the spectacular aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, dance on the night sky is always a special moment.
I had wandered outside my hotel – in Finnmark, Norway's northernmost county – and they started their incredible light show.
The many weaving cords of light flickering green and pink then white lasted only a few minutes.
A legend among the native people of Lapland, the nomadic Reindeer Sami, is that the lights are the antlers of a reindeer from which the world draws its life and to which we all return in death.
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Scientists say it is caused by electrons colliding with atoms in the upper atmosphere – but when in the icy expanse of Norway's Arctic tundra, fairytale suggestions almost seem plausible. After all, Father Christmas is said to hail from these parts.
There is a wholesome eeriness to Finnmark – a romance – especially in mid-winter when perpetual darkness swallows the land.
The polar night lasts from late November to late January. Temperatures loiter around -15C mark and downwards.
Reindeer hides, Arctic snow suits and vodka drunk from glasses made of ice are among the warming remedies against the cold.
There is a beauty and a harshness to Norwegian Lapland and a quick blast over the icy desert in a snowmobile is an invigorating way to experience the country's austere grandeur.
Air warmed by a log fire together with juicy hunks of some of the world's finest salmon is the perfect way to thaw out.
Norwegian food is excellent. Reindeer with gravy and cloudberry sauce is a tasty staple, as is cured whale meat, often eaten cold.
Any trip to Finnmark is incomplete without a visit to the Sami people. Many still live with herds of reindeer, enduring temperatures as low as -50C.
It is still possible to visit a Reindeer Sami family, see inside their tent, or lavu, listen to stories about mythical shamans, and even ride on a sleigh towed by a reindeer – an exhilarating way to travel, although not quite as reliable as a pack of huskies.