This semester exchange is far too much to put into one post, so I’d like to take a slightly different approach and share one week instead, a trip up to the north of Sweden and Norway with many new friends from all over the world.
So, I’m located in Oslo, studying at BI University (amazing by the way!), but this trip officially began in Sweden, so near midnight on a cold February Friday, I boarded a bus destined for the beautiful city of Stockholm, where we would depart around midday. This next leg was another bus trip but much longer at 20 hours, driving to the far north. That’s right, two whole nights on a bus: in a 48-hour period we would be spending 28 of those hours crammed like sardines. I remember thinking “this better be worth it!”, and luckily it blew my expectations away.
Anyway, back to the first part, we arrived in Stockholm early Saturday and headed to Maccas where I found that you can actually order a light beer from them! Perhaps a little too early for one, so I got a McMuffin and an O’boy hot chocolate. Then we did a quick last-minute shop for some warm pants before boarding the bus and leaving.
My favourite stop along the way was at night. There were a bunch of redneck Swedes in their cars having fun doing doughnuts in the snow, playing loud music and showing off their bright spotlights.
We eventually arrived at our first real stop, Kiruna, and had a simply amazing buffet breakfast and checked into our rooms. We then got some cash out and headed to the combi tour. First up we were snowmobiling, so we geared up and headed for the very first snowmobile in the line. We got on and had a bunch of fun (even though the speed was pretty limited!). There were two people to a snowmobile and halfway we swapped. After a while we were on a narrow track and went a tiny bit off course, but the snow was so soft that we sunk to the side. We were stranded for a good 20 minutes or so before getting unstuck and heading to a tipi with a fire, hot tea and muffins.
Then it was time for snow dog-sledding on the way back, and we went back to where we began. Super pretty stuff. Once we were back we accidentally helped ourselves to a buffet lunch which was actually 90kr ($15 Aus) – but no one realised, so no harm done!
The next day, I woke, packed my bags and had a room inspection. We then went to a grocery store for supplies and headed off to the ice hotel. It was amazing – but felt like more of an art gallery than somewhere I’d be comfortable staying the night. On the bright side, it was actually warmer on the inside, so no complaints!
We then went to see the traditional Sami people where we got to feed a bunch of reindeer lichen and got to visit another tipi to have some smoked reindeer and some broth made of the bones.
After that, we made our way to Abisko. The hostel we were staying at had hands-down, the best views of any place I’ve stayed. First, we went to yet another tipi which had a fire in it and roasted some marshmallows, along with some warm mulled wine. We stayed all night, then headed back to the hostel and, on the way, we got to see the northern lights, albeit through the clouds.
Next day, I woke and had a chippie sandwich and got on the bus for Narvik (located in Norway close to the border). Along the way, we stopped at the Norwegian border which was windy and cold but the second time we stopped was at the base of Ofotenfjord with a little, frozen river and got some amazing pics. We arrived and had a little trek up to check out the spectacular views and got some more grocery supplies. Came back in the afternoon exhausted, had a nap then a huge walk followed by a dinner of carbonara. We then had our turn in the sauna and got to jump into the frozen lake. After that, we went to see the auroras but they were quite faint.
Next day, we packed our stuff and had breakfast. We went for another massive walk, beginning in a valley, then through an ice cave, past flowing water and ice climbers, walked around the lake, saw some wild moose, walked back, packed food and gear for the bus trip and settled in for the 20-hour trip.
All in all, it was an amazing trip 🙂 Hope you’ve enjoyed a little snapshot of my experience. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask!