Saturday, July 5, 2014

Kiruna, Sweden Part 1

A few days after midsummer (thinking about it brought such tension to the muscles in my neck and shoulders ;x ), it was such a lovely and relaxing time to just leave everything behind and head to the most northern part of Sweden, which is in Lapland.

A little history of Kiruna - The indigenous Sami people shared a long history in the area where the city was built.  When it was founded back in 1900, it became an important place for iron ore and mining industry in Sweden.  During World War II, iron were transported from Kiruna by rail to the east and sold to Germany.

Today, Kiruna is a popular travel destination for Swedes and tourists alike, especially during winter due to its famous Ice Hotel and northern lights.  (I was told they had a lot of people from Australia, China and Japanese during the winter months)  But, during summer there's still the midnight sun and many other fun outdoor activities.

DAY 1 & 2

Arrived at the tiniest airport!
For those who hate walking..  It's only a few steps from the plane to the entrance.. =D

We stayed at Camp Ripan where you could actually camp or rent a cabin.  We opted for renting a cabin for 2.  The weather was actually quite decent when we were there.  We were told the week we were there was their warmest as it was still snowing during midsummer >_<  

Our cabin is nice and quite spacious for the two of us, but I hate how the blinds barely cover the windows and the glazed glass door did not deter the extreme bright sunlight streaming in at around 2am every day.  Wearing an eye mask did not help much =((  The reception people are very friendly and their restaurant serves pretty decent breakfast and sample dinner menu, which we tried on our very first night!  *Thumbs up*!!

The people are so friendly - the driver and tour guides we had.  Our driver from the Ice Hotel informed us that most people here own a dog or two... and the dog population in the community outnumbers the people.  She herself owns 24 dogs and enjoys competing with them during winter!  She has apparently won quite a few European championships!

Little cabins!  Each cabin has this broom sitting outside.  Apparently, if you are out, you are supposed to put the broom standing in front of your door and if you are in, your broom is left away from your door, so, people will know to knock on your door.  Funny thing is, the cleaner did no such thing.  The lady walked in without knocking and I was lying in my underpants sprawled on the bed... How rude!

Our first order of the day was to walk about 15 minutes into the city centre and visit the local festival which reminded me quite painfully of EKKA, from when I was in high school. (extremely small)  Entrance was free during the day and at night, when the bands start playing, you have to pay around 200kr entrance.  It's mostly for the locals and as one of the waiters told us at Camp Ripan that all the locals will attend,  If they don't support it, the festival will cease to exist and then, there will be nothing for them entertainment wise. I think the day time is mostly for kids as there's quite a few rides, lots of 'win a soft toy' games and a few food stalls and candy stalls...
Good doggy!  Quite a sight, while walking back from the city..  I actually thought it might be a decoration, until when I moved closer, I saw his head popped up, looking at me..  Gave me quite a fright!!
This was around 1 or 2am ... Crazy.. =)
Preparing for our midnight walk...  Yep!  We started going out at midnight!  A little trek near our cabin which was suppose to take us around 2 hours.  Unfortunately, we didn't follow the trek too well and we completed a whole circle back to the front in around 1 hour

The clouds were out, but the sun was shining just as brightly
Beautiful colours...
The walk itself was quite nice as there weren't anyone around except for a wild rabbit which hopped off when we walked too close.  Oh.. Wait!!  I actually I lied.. There's a gazillion mosquitoes swarming around... We had to spray everywhere, including our scalps as they were finding ways to have us for breakfast!

Walking back to hide in our cabin, it was roughly around 2 - 2.30am and the sun was still shining so brightly.. We could hear faint music from the festival, but other than that, it wasn't too busy.. We saw a handful of people just walking slowly around..

Thus end our first day in Kiruna =)