On the all night train to the North
Trip Start Jun 10, 2007
22Trip End Jun 29, 2007
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Kira fixed a sumptuous breakfast of Swedish pancakes, cream, yoghurt, muesli, cheese. It was awesome. We ate and then Paul, Kira and I went into town to do some business at the bank and railroad station. Mjölby is so easy to navigate Then we went back to the house and went for a 45 minute walk before heading for the train station.
It was hard to say good-bye to the Spensers. They are just the greatest couple who think big and yet are fated at this time to be alone in the faith here in Mjölby. Paul took us to the train station five minutes from his home and off we go to Stockholm and Boden.
Bruce was just great with the Spenser's kids. All kids love his Donald Duck impressions and we adults enjoy his Irishman and Scotsman's imperwq5ion as he tells jokes.
We got on the express train to Stockholm and were there in a little over two hours. We had an hour and 20 minutes before our train up north. Bruce and I walked around the downtown area of the train station a bit. There are sure lots of blondes.
Our train up north has a long route of about 1100 miles terminating in Narvik, Norway. We will go up about 630 miles to Boden arriving at 6:40 am and then figure our way out by bus to Kemi, Finland.
We are seated in a six passenger compartment that is supposed to transform into two bunks on the sleeping part of our trip. At first Bruce and I are the only passengers, but the conductor tells us that we will have three more people join us in about an hour and a half.
Bruce was really wanting to get some momentos of Uppsala, Sweden. It's a fairly large city that is home to a renowned university. His wife Phyllis's ancestors are from Uppsala. He was hoping to send a postcard, but we don't have time to do that in the short train stop. But, we got Bruce pointing to the Uppsala train station sign.
As we proceed north the landscape become very northern Minnesotan in appearance with birch trees, lakes, pines. One type of pine that was interesting to us is one that is not found in the United States that we know. It is the Swedish pine. It's park becomes buttescotch colored about a third of the way up. In Minnesota we have the Norway Pine which does not have that color.
We pass ski jumps, slalom runs that operate in the winter.
Bruce and I went to the elaborate dining car and had dinner there. It really had class and looked like something in the Murder on the Orient Express movie. We sat next to a gentleman called Andreas who told us that he was a train employee on vacation. Bruce engaged him in conversation about Swedish people. We talked about the perceived moral looseness of the Swedes. He told us that Sweden is probably one of the more conservative of the Scandinavian countries. It's reputation for that comes from the 1960's when there were a number of pornographic movies produced here that gave Sweden a reputation that he feels is stereotypical. Actually, Sweden, he said, had good family values. In talking earlier to Paul Spenser and observing ourselves. Sweden does not have the bar and pub culture that is prevalent in the United Kingdom. Mjölby does not have pubs for the most part. Paul commented that the Isle of Man had more than 450 pubs, one for every 90 people.
Andreas was helpful to us in figuring out our bus connection the next day to Kemi. There is a real separation between Sweden and Finland. He told us that we would probably have to walk over the bridge linking the two countries. Bruce had reindeer stew and I had a salad.
We got back to our compartment and met our fellow travelers. Two were an elderly married couple that said they were Finnish AND Swedish and spoke both languages. The other was an older Swedish lady who knew some English.
The elderly couple knew exactly what to do in transforming the seats into beds. It was amazing what it looked like afterwards....I just couldn't envision how it was done.
The elderly couple was to have the top bunks, but Bruce got them to take the preferable lower bunks. The little compartment two bunks three high was a bit crowded, but I think we all got a good night's sleep. The train moves so smoothly and quietly with gentle rocking.
The morning has come. More adventures await as we look forward to seeing the Doh family sometime in the early afternoon, God-willing.