Trip Start May 19, 2008
50Trip End Ongoing
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God middag! Hello everybody. It's Monday afternoon and in the sky some huge gray bottomed clouds are shifting over the sun. This morning as I left our house for a walk, it was barely sprinkling. But with the contrast between bright sun and misty clouds, I felt there must have been a rainbow somewhere. I set out to find it. I power walked down the street and turned left at the Sea (It's the Baltic, technically speaking, the Gulf of Bothnia.) The water swayed in glittery waves as I trekked along the path. I headed toward the grocery store and then turned around to the other direction to uncharted territory. Passing rows and rows of apartment buildings, seagulls squawked as I pushed up the road. Looking at all the windows, I see decorations of plants, hanging lamps and geometric curtains. Fancy, slightly cluttered alters to the sun.
The street dead-ends at the top of the hill. I stop and sit to watch the morning traffic below me. The cars hover over the water on a suspension bridge leading them to another part of the city. Now, I'm drinking coffee in my kitchen. Musetti Caffe Macinato. "Roasted and ground for coffee machines. Product packaged under protective atmosphere by: Torrefazione." I'm drinking it and it is good. And for the first time I can say: Over the weekend? Oh, yes. I went to Norway."
10 of the 11 of us packed into 2 rental cars on Friday afternoon and headed on the highway out of town, out of Norbotten region, into the Lappland, out of one country, over the mountains and into another. We drove through the simple countryside where all houses are red with white trim. We passed bare fields, not yet seeded. Passed grazing horses, sheep, and reindeer. The farther north we drove, the more rocky, frozen and barren the earth became. We passed the Arctic Circle and kept on going. Rocks turned to hills and mountains and snow covered peaks. After about 6 hours we reached the town of Riksgransen, Sweden and found our reserved cabins looking down over an iced lake and frigid valley. With the sun still up, we hiked around and followed a frozen waterfall down to the shore. We skipped smooth, flat stones into the partially frozen water. The sun dipped behind the mountains, smearing the clouds with orange and pink, and then arose again.
In the morning, we drove a while longer straight through to Norway. No need to stop at the border, just followed the signs "nothing to claim." We passed through picturesque towns with no real destination in mind. We took highways, winding cliff-side trails, dirt roads and dead-end residential streets. We passed children with rosy cheeks wandering the countryside, women strolling carriages, farmers walking the fields. We gasped as a school of dolphins arched through the icy fjords.
We ended up in the city of Narvik. Hiking to a look out point, we saw the city in a nice perspective. A town snug between sun lit ski slopes, forests, mountains, and sea. We filled our cars with expensive gas and began our drive back to the cabins. Along the way we pulled over at various photograph worthy spots, including a statue of giant troll. Once in Sweden, we stopped at the country's famous Ice Hotel, yes, a hotel made of ice and snow. It was partially melted but still incredible. It was like an arctic ghost town, snow plowed and packed over the entry ways. We walked along the perimeter, determined to see inside. Near the shore, we found a way in. I peered in to see a long, low hallway with dripping doorways. Ice blocks for beds and chairs. I extended my arm and camera, too uneasy to actually step inside. Fearful of a resulting note to my parents: "Dear Mrs. and Sir. Your too curious daughter has been found with tongue frozen to ice shot glass, and rear stuck to frozen ice chair inside melting tourist attraction."
Number of cheese sandwiches eaten: 5
Billboards reserved for local street art (graffiti): 2
First ingredient in my loaf of bread: Mjol
Number of buds about to bloom: 1 million