Three weeks ago I was preparing for an awesome trip, and although I didn't have the time to write about it (packing was a bit tricky) nor figure out how I am going to document it, I realize now that it was better this way - I was not stressed about writing down whatever I saw, and was relaxed enough to enjoy the whole trip. ^^ Proper mental holidays.
A Road Trip to the North. That's what it was. All the way through Sweden and Norway. And before I start describing my experiences of both countries, a set of keywords to get an idea:
midnight City Rally, mosquito attacks, goats as camping crashers, goats as road blockers, tetris, midnight sun, "all day, all day", campfire, surprise cabin, seagulls, arctic circle, fjords, trolls, alternative IE, middle of nowhere, knäckebröd!
We actually spent only a few days in Sweden in the beginning of the trip - 5 and a half. The reason for this: smaller distance, and much faster transport from one point to another - in Sweden they do have normal highways!
Day 1 of traveling started smoothly: after packing all our stuff in 2 station wagons and a mini-van we were ready to leave Gothenburg for our first destination: Stockholm. We had some stops in between, to the Läckö and Örebro castles and some random camping place for lunch. We had energy at the time, so we spent most of our time in the cars watching the nature around us. And we were lucky that the weather was very good - sunny and warm. Also with some white fluffy clouds here and there, but not enough to hide the ever glowing sun.
We arrived quite late that night in Stockholm (something that proved to become a habit in the rest of the trip) and after an awesome dinner provided and cooked by LBG Stockholm, we decided that staying in was not an option. It was City Rally time! We actually begun after 12am (that's were the word midnight goes) and it was quite dark, but that didn't stop us from having fun. It hindered our view of the city, but with an awesome tour guide and great company, how can one complain?
After visiting the city's most notable landmarks and hearing interesting stories about them (also visiting the Blood square and dancing a Swedish midsummer dance!) we ended up in a local pub, improvising rules for a quick pub crawling 'session'. We eventually returned to our hosts around 3-4am and found out that it's possible in one apartment to host more than 10 people at the same time. ^^
Day 2 was Uppsalalalala day: After waking up and having breakfast we started driving towards Uppsala, where we had a small walk in the city center and the chance to exchange money. Those with euros were not that lucky: bad exchange rates and high exchange fees.
Our next stop was the Örbyhus Castle, where we had our first mosquito attack and a quick walk around the place, which was totally magnificent. The only thing missing was horse riding. :P
Sweden is totally the land of mosquitos!
The same day we came across a stunning site, and we just had to stop for pictures.
I don't have any of the group pictures we took there, but trust me, they look good ;)
Later we had our first camping in tents near a lake, that featured almost in the center of it, a small island with a red hut. Dreamy place.
Day 3 and we were ready for shopping! We stopped at a supermarket and bought food for the rest of the trip. There was a bit of worry if the food will be enough, we really wanted to avoid buying stuff in Norway, since it's even more expensive there. In the end, we were left with some things, especially the choco snacks. We simply bought too many of them!
Of course buying things is one thing, fitting them in the cars totally another. This is when the term 'Tetris team' was conned. We eventually put food under seats and inside the glove department to make everything fit!
Our next stop was the famous(and too much expensive) Tree House Hotel, where we had a tour around and inside some of the rooms and finally, showers!
It was funny, that by the end of the tour, participants were discussing secretly with each other about the things they had noticed in the construction of the tree houses that 'were not just quite right'.
Personally I was expecting something more.. luxurious? Maybe.
We also camped that night, in a place with lots of mosquitos.
Day 4 and we are on our way to Kiruna. Our first visit was in LKAB Mining Company, which I missed because of a visit to the hospital but did get my souvenir: a bag with small round balls of pure iron. ^^
As a side note I will mention that, I really appreciated how things are constructed in Sweden to be easy even for disabled people to move around, but I was totally unsatisfied by their hospital treatment. Waiting for 45+ minutes in a completely empty emergency room to get treated by a doctor - not OK.
After the company visit, we got split in two groups, one for city sightseeing and the other for cliff sightseeing. One of the very few cliffs around. Sweden is mostly flat, you know.
We continued with some driving after that, to find ourselves near the borders looking for a camping place. Some of the walkie talkies were dead at some point, which led to some confusion and misunderstandings between the drivers and navigators. That led to crashing a place that turned out to be private, but the owner was so kind with us, that actually told us of a good camping place nearby. So we went for it, and came across a very nice surprise.
By the time we reached the camping site it was raining, and everyone was dreading it: setting up tents and cooking under rain is not the best thing. Which we manage to avoid, because some guys from the group found the miracle cabin! A 2 room cabin, with large tables and a fireplace, empty, waiting for us.
Needless to say, everybody was totally excited. Some of us had plans for IE that night, which unfortunately were not fulfilled, because after the awesome dinner everyone was too tired to stay up any further. But it's a good thing that we had at least a bit of some time we spent altogether - up to that point we were constantly split in cars or tents.
Day 5 was the day of our first hiking and crossing of the borders. We visited the Abisko National Park and had awesome hiking in the nature. It was also nice to see that there quite a few people around doing the same thing. Swedish people like to spend time in the nature.
We got split in different groups for the hiking: slow and fast in the beginning, and the fast group to fast and super fast in the end. The super fast group somehow managed to get lost at some point - they were late something like 2 hours.
After hiking came driving and crossing the borders, more of which I will talk about in a next post!