-2C is warm!

Trip Start Aug 02, 2010
Trip End Dec 22, 2010

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Flag of Sweden  , Lapland,
Monday, December 6, 2010

I would've never thought I would say that but after being in Kiruna for the weekend, I can honestly say that is has never felt so good going back to -2 degrees in Stockholm.  That being said, Kiruna has gotta be one of the most fun that I've had on a trip, thank goodness that the good memories trump the feeling of the numbingly cold -20C =P.

So arrival in icy cold Kiruna...land of knee deep snow and freezing winds and we have no taxi to our hotel...ok, we eventually got there but we had to wait ages since the town has like 3 taxis operating at one time or something like that haha.  The airport was deserted too, 1 flight and then everyone's disappeared!  Wha??? XD  Well, got to our lovely apartments by 2 something where it was already almost dark...I will never complain about Stockholm's lack of light again.  All through the trip it felt like it was perpetually 9pm, what time is it? 4...what time is it? 8...what time is it? 2am...it was all the same.  And the lack of people didn't help...SERIOUSLY, there is NO-ONE in the town!

But, we didn't know that just yet =P.  So lunch (felt like dinner) at Anny's Grill!  Mmmm...sit outside where the snow reaches the tables?....hmmm, maybe not XD  Walked up to the town centre where we discovered the town hall and the city centre...if you can call it that, just some bigger buildings surrounding a square of snow.  Tourist information was closed and the whole place was deserted...did I mention that this was at 4pm?  We also discovered among other things that it's not a smart idea to follow Ben through knee deep snow but boy was it a lot of fun =D...also, Europeans can sort of pull off an English accent provided that they stick to the words "chaps", "jolly good" and "cup of tea" XD  Also Ben's inner ninja was revealed along with his prowess of snow ball dodging =P.  We headed in early that night since there were no tours going out and in hindsight, I think that was a really good idea.  Especially considering how crazy next day turned out to be!

So, day 2, we wake up just in time to get ready for dog sledding, 3 layers of pants, 5 layers of clothes, beanie+2 hoods, a scarf and gloves.  What's the temperature you ask?  -20C...hmmm, this might not cut it! >.<  It was amazing when we arrived at the place though, the sun was nowhere to be seen so it was like perpetual dawn/dusk with a clear sky and lovely snow covered trees.  After suiting up with ANOTHER layer of clothes, courtesy of our hosts, it was time to get on the sleds.  I should mention that the dogs at this stage were CRAZY!  The ones in the cages kept barking and howling while the ones already harnessed up where literally trying to leap forward and pull the sled away.  These dogs really wanted to run!  As soon as the dogs starting though, the silence that came was erie, all you heard was the skid of the sled against the snow, everything else was completely silent.  It's quite special actually...as long as you forget about the numbing cold and occasional bumps that seemed to happen far more often than you'd like =P.  It really was beautiful though, and even more amazing when you look ahead and all you see are the dogs and the pink/blue sky...just wonderful. 

We stopped halfway for something warm to drink at a tent with a fire...Oooooh, that was soooo nice, being able to warm ourselves up and realising that I still have 10 fingers and toes.  Crazy as it was, the dogs still wanted to run and were barking the whole time!  We learnt there that these dogs were actually used in dog sledding competitions so they were SUPER fit and that they've been trained from a very young age to love running.  That they certainly do haha.  The journey back was just as wonderful and by then, the sky certainly seemed to have darkened...this was around 1pm XD  The change on the dogs was amazing when we arrived back at the kennels though, no more barking for more...I guess they realise that they're home.  All of a sudden they turned super friendly, some even jumped up to hug me when at the start, I thought they would bite my hand off if I got in their way.  That bit at the end really made it for me =)  I even went back for a second round of hugs =D.  Thank you all and our sled driver, Emily!

Made it back, had lunch, we stole salt and pepper (as you do XD) then went on to do our next full on activity!  Snow shoeing at Ripan!  w00t!  That was a lot of fun too, mind numbingly cold and I could barely feel my fingers but it was a cool feeling walking through all the snow and only sinking to knee deep.  Yeah, this is opposed to waist deep! XD  We spent the majority of the time trying to get away from the city so that we could see the Northern Lights but unfortunately they didn't happen for us =(  Still, we saw some amazing night sky and stars and the lights of Kiruna were actually quite pretty from afar.  Thank you Ben and Wim for making us go the full crazy hike through the snow XD.  Along the way I found out: just how numb my fingers could feel without falling off, animals in Kiruna have crazy weird footprints, the cross country skiing path is awesome for walking on (just don't tell anyone =P) and that my skiing skills are horrible XD though sledding down the snow pile was quite a lot of fun =D.  My first sled!!  A cardboard box!!

Was wonderful warming ourselves up afterwards in the foyer of Ripan with some Glögg and talk of wintersports haha.  Mmm, I highly recommend anyone to try Glögg if they can find it!  It's delicious!  Went home for a traditional Swedish dinner of köttbullar and mash with lingonberry jam...then it was time for Advent!  I still don't know 100% what it's about and what you're supposed to do on this day but I gathered that they occurred on the Sundays leading up to Christmas and that you burn candles in a wreath.  You also get to eat some delicious cookies called Lebkuchen and drink Glögg!  mmmm....I like how the Europeansw celebrate their holidays =P.  That night was a lot of fun, talking about everything and nothing...but there was one overwhelming topic that night.  Running into the snow outside naked!  Something that Ben seemed quite fond of haha.  This was quickly overruled, BUT not to chicken out, we decided on a series of appropriate daring activities for the night.  Running outside in bare foot (with t-shirt and just ONE layer of pants) transformed to leap frog races (won by the Europeans) to weird biathlon race of snow ball making/shooting then wheelbarrow race back XD.  That one was a little bit more controversial but all I have to say is that at the end of the day, Australia prevailed =P.  Of course, we finished with jumping into the snow naked......

haha, no...we were properly attired...well, as properly as you can be when you're in a t-shirt at -18C =P  But it was hilarious, and definitely one of the best nights that I've had =D!  Feet getting frozen to the cement, not being able to feel my toes and possibly having some of my skin freeze aside =P.  That being said, it was actually quite a nice feeling once I got inside to the warmth, very relaxing!

We somehow managed to drag ourselves out of bed after sleeping at 4am and made our way up to the town one last time.  Visited the lovely scandinavian church, went to try and buy some reindeer meat but failed, though Ben did end up buying a reindeer pelt.  And that was it really...left Kiruna that afternoon to the warmth of Stockholm...-2C...=P
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saNdra on

woaH! that sounds soo cold!! and yes incredible photos woaaah 0_0

wish you a very merry merry xmas chun!! and happy new years!! I won't see ya in another 6 months or so &gt;&lt;""

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