Sunday, July 6, 2014

Kiruna, Sweden Part II

DAY 3 & 4

We wanted to do some horse riding activities, but unfortunately everything were fully booked for the whole weekend..  So, lesson learned!  We should have booked it in advance =P  Anyway, we decided to check out the Ice Hotel, in the Jukkasj√§rvi area which was around 15 - 20 minutes away by car.  By this time of the year, the main ice hotel is no longer there, the Ice Hotel's surrounding area is still open and operating during summer.

I've never been here during winter, and wish we had made the journey before summer..  Ahh well.. Guess, it will be sometime in the distant future, now =(

A little history about the Ice Hotel - The ice hotel is only available from December - March every year.  Every spring, around March, the Ice Hotel harvests tons of ice from the frozen Torne River and stores them in a nearby production hall.  There, they store tons of ice and snow to create the ice hotel.  The ice is used to create the Icebar designs and ice glasses.  These are used for ice sculpting classes, events and product launches all over the world.  The snow is used to build the structure of the hotel.  What is left is then used to construct the next Ice Hotel.

Once completed, the hotel features an ice bar, church (I remembered how S wanted to get married here and I protested as it was too far out.  How I am regretting that now!), main hall, reception area and rooms and suites for over 100 guests.  Everything here is made from ice.  Right down to the beds and decorations.  Every room is unique as no two room are the same.  You could sleep in the rooms here as each bed is lined with reindeer furs and guests are given special equipment to use while sleeping in the hotel.  There is no heating in the room and the room's temp is constantly at 23F (-5c).  Funnily enough, due to Sweden's OH&S law, they are now required to install fire alarms.  Not sure for what.. When the reindeer skin catch on fire?

For those needing to use the bathroom constantly at night, best to use their warm accommodation which is available next to the hotel as the ice hotel has no plumbing and you will need to use the bathrooms in a warm building close by ;)  But.. There is a sauna that is run on the premises of the Icehotel with hot tub outdoors.  Quite interesting, no?

This is what's left of the ice hotel..  A teepee and a little shed covering a block of ice that is slowly melting away
The famous Torne river is to the right
Ice block under a shed.  Inside were some pictures showing how the ice hotel is constructed
I love how crazy clouds makes a photo look more dramatic
So tranquil...
You could stay in these cabins
Walking about 15 minutes or so for lunch... to the Nutti Sami Siida
I was actually quite impressed with lunch.. As they actually cooked all our meat in the open fire compared to the usual bain marie
Our yummy reindeer lunch!  Freshly cooked!
We had to pay an entrance fee to walk around some small enclosure, learning more about the Sammi people and to check out the reindeers.. To be honest, it was a waste of money..

There wasn't much to see and the reindeers weren't too friendly. Maybe they were just wary of S, trying to feed them.. The enclosed reindeer pen were full of reindeer droppings and awful looking reindeers..

They look funny and their pelts were patchy.. Think they were malting quite badly

Still makes for pretty pictures though

Though the clouds look fierce in the days we were there, we didn't get caught in any rain.. Which was quite a blessing =)

Met a friendly waitstaff at the restaurant who asked if I came yesterday as she remembered seeing me on the same plane flying into Kiruna.. haha.. That's right.. There ain't many asian or dark skin couples travelling together in this trip ;)  We were talking about fishing and that we'll be fishing tomorrow.  She and another chef told us we could actually bring over our caught fish and they will cook for us ... How nice!! =D

Checking out on S who was taking a nap at the pier...

Hellooooooo!! =D

My baby is all class ;)
We went back and rested for an hour or so, before deciding to join the retro rafting on the Torne river with 2 other couples at around 6pm.

We got picked up from Camp Ripan back to the Ice Hotel area and got decked in wetsuits, boots, life jacket and helmet.  Then it was about 30 minutes drive or so before we all disembarked and hopped into our raft!  Cost was 950SEK/person and it's supposed to be for around 6 hours and includes a couple of small sandwiches and a cup (to scoop the water from the river and drank from it direct).  We also got a small drink box when we arrived back

Our raft

I was too scared of getting my camera wet, but we put our camera into a bin bag and into a dry bag to keep it doubly safe!

Only managed to snapped a few pictures before hiding my camera for safe keeping.  I was too scared I might fall from the raft as well =P
We even got a tour to find a rare orchid which was teeeeny.. Apparently it's one of the rarest species of orchid which they thought was extinct...  We had to trek into some jungle for a few minutes..
Part of our group..  Was 2 French couples and our guide and S & me...  This is where the freaking mosquitoes were having their supper... on us!!
We actually finished a lot earlier than expected.  Around 10.30 - 11pm.  I got thoroughly wet, from top to bottom!  Was quite fun, riding the rapids =)  
Bare in mind that mosquitoes were plenty throughout the whole trip.  You have to be vigilant in using mosquitoes spray.. even on your scalp.  After the rafting trip, I went home and woke up with my left eye barely able to open as the mosquito bites grew quite big overnight...  Thankfully we had anti histamine and I had to munch on two to keep the swelling down!


Our last day and we fly out of Kiruna that evening, so, we decided to make full use of our day by going fishing.  We rented a guide and his boat for 650SEK/person (for half a day) which includes rental of his fishing rods and him taking us out to different spots of the Torne River to get a good catch or two.

Unfortunately for me, I got bored after the first hour or so, as the task of throwing the rod out and winding it back with seaweed or nothing caught in my hook didn't quite appeal to me.  But, S was going for his life and caught 3 fishes, one was returned to sea eventhough it was the biggest catch.  Unfortunately it was a Pike and our guide advised us they don't usually eat Pike =P  We were out there for at least 3 hours or so

It was quite cold when the boat is moving, but when we sat still, it was gloriously warm as the sun was shining and there was just a gentle breeze throughout the day...

Love how blue and gorgeous the Torne River looks...
S was so proud of his catch... with our guide

His 2nd catch of the day!  Quick!  Quick!  Take a photo!
Our lunch on the way back in the car!
Our guide gutted both fish and beheaded them in the river
Sorry, fishy!
Cloudy but still sunny!
Setting our fishes up for cooking!  We cooked both in the open fire.  One in just foil and smoked the 2nd fish.
Our lunch cooking away!
My slightly swollen left eye...  After taking 2 anti-histamines..  Actually looked a lot better =D
Our lunch for just S and myself...
Was a lovely lovely weekend away with just myself and the boy.  A bit of trekking, a bit of rafting and a bit of fishing..  Overall a very relaxing and fun weekend..

Until next time!