Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Sweden - Kiruna and Abisko

From Stockholm we headed way up north to Kiruna for a few days.

The attraction of Kiruna is that it is above the Arctic circle in Swedish Lapland, and we had a few things in mind that we wanted to do there.

Our first night in Kiruna we stayed in the Ice Hotel, which is a hotel carved out of blocks of ice and the overnight stay is on beds made from blocks of ice and reindeer hide.

There is various types of rooms, ranging from the Art Rooms with elaborately carved decoration, down to the Snow Room which basically just had a bed. Of course the only room we could afford was the Snow Room which was anyway probably a good choice since you only really sleep there and the rooms are otherwise open to the public.

We did a tour of the rooms when they were all open, and drank an obligatory vodka out of ice cups in the Absolut Ice Bar.

Aside from this we mucked around in our 'warm gear' (including giant moon-boots), which was mostly un-needed because of the fine weather but fun to wear regardless, and wandered around the village.

After a night with a glimpse of the Northern Lights and an unexpectedly warm sleep in our Snow Room we visited the Sami village and said hello to some Reindeer, and then had some Reindeer soup (we didn't feel at all conflicted about this).

In the evening we were booked for a Snowmobile Tour, which took us out along the forest paths and over frozen lakes to a wilderness hut where our friendly guide cooked us dinner while we attempted cross country skiing on the lake.

We had a disappointingly cloudy night, so no Northern Lights, but otherwise had a fantastic time. It took some deciding as to whether we should stay another night in the 'Swedish wilderness', but in the end opted to stick with our original plan.

After riding our snow-mobiles back into town we picked up a rental car and drove up north to Abisko national park which is reputedly the best place in Sweden to see the lights, thanks to the surrounding mountains which keep the air clear.

We stayed in a cabin and, that night, we wandered a little away from the lights of the village to wait for the lights to start.

What we saw was just amazing, there is really no way to adequately describe it and the pictures I took could not capture the display.

The lights filled the whole sky and shimmered and snaked their way from one horizon to another. They moved impossibly fast considering their scale, and lasted for much longer than I expected.

Long after we had gone back inside, the lights were still in the sky making a pattern like tiger's stripes.

After this we were completely satisfied by our stay, having seen more than we ever expected, but at the same time we wanted to stay longer in the North of Sweden, having had such a fantastic time there.

The next morning, however, we jumped back in the car and headed back to Kiruna for our booked flight back to Stockholm - running customarily late and only just making it in time as usual.

1 comment:

oblivion said...

hi mark, am planning to go to kiruna/ abisko in april as well. but its off-seasion, how did both of you travel from the airport to abisko? i've been reading it's really expensive getting pre-booking a cab.