After a long day walking around being dumbfounded by the attractive city of Stockholm, we made our way out to Stockholm Airport (courtesy of a $100 taxi ride thank you very much!!!). We got our seats on a very full plane (a truckload of Japanese tourists on an “Adventure Holiday” and a lot of Swedes going home for the weekend) for Kiruna, above the Artic Circle.
Arriving at Kiruna the captain said that the ground temperature was -2C. The lady checking us into our hotel said “That’s not cold. 2 weeks ago it was -35C!” This only made us glad that we weren’t here 2 weeks ago.
After a marvellous sleep in a toasty warm room atop a block like hotel/hostel, we woke up for our first glimpse of Kiruna. A fairly plain mining town (there’s an enormous mine on the other side of town … apparently the deepest iron ore mine in the world), made spectacular by two feet of snow covering everything. Snow, it seems, has a marvellous propensity to hide everything and make it all look pristine. Of course, the remnants of dogs visiting the park tends to break up the marvellous white landscape, but there’s not a great deal you can do about that I suppose … just hope for more snow.
We set off walking into the town centre. After walking through the town centre in all of 2 minutes, we hoofed it down towards a large lake … frozen solid of course. On the way we got sidetracked by the sight of a hundred or so skiers flying down a mountain. Having worked out way up the hill, it turned out that it was a saturday morning ski carnival for school kids. Just like a little athletics meet, or a swimming carnival, there was a multitude of brightly clad kids haring around the mountain. All of them were exhibiting phenomenal skills with a large number of 8 year olds almost airborne down the mountain without any ski poles. Caren and I tried to come up with some Australian/American skill that we could do inately, but stopped short. I suppose that comes from not being overly athletic.
With not a lot to do in Kiruna except walk around, waiting for the day to go out to the ice hotel, trying to save some money to make up for horrendously overpriced cab rides in Stockholm, we have decided to catch the train across to Narvik in Norway tomorrow. Apparently the scenery is quite magnificent, what with the fjords and the like. A three hour train ride there and back, but probably more interesting than walking around a mining town.