So, during my bachelor degree I didn’t miss the chance to go abroad for a term and get to know another country. My choice was Örebro in central Sweden, and even before arriving, I already fell in love with the language. Which I am, btw, still learning – kanske jag ska även studerar i Sverige igen, vem vet?
Anyway, one of our big trips that were scheduled was the one to Swedish Lapland. Ahead of us an 18 hours bus drive to the far north. First stop:
Kiruna – the northernmost town in Sweden
The name Kiruna originates in the Sami word giron for snow grouse, to be seen on the city arms. With about 19.000 inhabitants, Kiruna is a small cute town that we started exploring straight away. We had a guided walk around the town, did dog-sledging and snowmobiling and went to sauna and a pub later on. For those interested in accommodation, we were staying at SPiS hostel, which included WiFi, breakfast and sauna. Since this was a fully organized trip I, however, don’t have information about particular fares (but the package was an amazing deal!).
Icehotels & Reindeers
The following day, we visited the famous ice hotel. This was actually the first hotel worldwide fully made out of ice and snow and is situated in Jukkasjärvi, 200 km North of the polar circle and operating since more than 20 years already. It is open year round, although during summer and times of midnight sun, of course based on actual buildings only. Every season, it is newly built by artists that come together from all over the world. Later that day, we visited a Sami family where we learned about their culture and traditions. We could walk around the reindeer compound, pet and feet them, and concluded with sitting together in the big tent around a warming fire and eating a traditional soup. The whole family was working there and supporting a very sustainable environment, using the last bit of the resources nature and the reindeers gave them.
And finally … our first Northern lights!
In the evening, we arrived in Abisko, and were amazed by the northern lights straight away when exiting the bus! It was just 4 in the afternoon, but since the sun was not rising anymore up there, we “enjoyed” “daylight” from 10 to 13.30 only. Meaning, the days we were up there, we were napping at 2pm already, cause it was simply dark. Our inner clock got so out of tune, but we didn’t let that take the fun away! That incredibly awesome day was finished with a BBQ in a Sami tent and watching more polar lights.
From icy hikes to comfy sauna
The next day, most people joined the trip to Norway, while a friend and I went for a hike, remembering our Norway times in early October. We walked through the snow for a couple of hours, enjoying the terrific landscape, the mountains, the light, the close by sound of a wolf or similar (gosh were we freaked out). With those -35°C we had, our lashes and hair were coated with ice, it was freezing inside our noses, and we could eat ice on a stick 😉 In the evening, we headed to the wooden sauna next to the lake, which is one of the most modern ones in the world. For cooling off, we jumped into the (actually frozen, the ice had to be smashed before) lake, all cutting ourselves on the sharp edges, but returning with (literally) cool photos and a refreshed mind, haha. The lake also is one of the cleanest in the world, allowing us to take buckets of water into the sauna to then have a cool drink in a cozy atmosphere.
The Curiosity of a Child
The last day, we got up early and were going for another walk next to the lake (right were the sauna was, seeing all the blood we lost, having dripped bright red on the innocent snow layer…).
Afterwards, we spent the rest of our time with plastic sledges, going down the hill with a couple of people, racing, crashing into each other and rather rolling down, lining up and sliding down in a train – it is such a liberating feeling to be a kid again, just once, forget one’s worries, laugh boisterously, ignore every intuitive fear that one is about to do something stupid…. never!
Oh, and the drive back was particularly interesting. We were sitting in the last row of the bus, which seemed to not be done for the -35°C we had – it was increasingly dripping from the ceiling until we couldn’t sit there anymore, but also there was no possibility to fix the leak. Ended up “sleeping” on the “floor”, but were too tired to even care 😉
What’s the northernmost point you have been to?