Friday, 20 August 2010

Ice Bar

Kiruna is not a very "on the map" place, but just outside of Kiruna and Jugassvari is the only famous thing in town, the Ice Hotel. The origional Ice Hotel. Obviously it being summer and all, it wasn't built at the moment. But their ICE BAR was built in a warehouse so is usually built in the summer. We found out once we arrived that the ice bar was actually closed for the rest of the season, but we were lucky enough to catch the end of a tour going on, and they let us go in, as long as we bought a drink! It was probably the most expensive juice we will ever buy!

Jugassvari Church

The most famous monument in Jugassvari is their church. It is heavily influenced by the Sami culture and is really beautiful. Bright red on the outside and a beautiful turquoise on the inside. It's just a small little church,

but is so colourful inside it gives the impression of being much bigger. Above their altar they have a really colourful wood carving of Jesus and the townspeople. We found a classmate had already visited the church earlier that day in the visitor's book, she said it is definitely a place that people come to visit when they come to this part of Sweden.

Down by the lake

A little way down the road, still in the town of Juggasvari, there is a little museum near the lake, about traditional housing. Sadly, at this time of year, it's not open ( end of season apparently!) But we did get to have our photos taken with a nice wooden sculpture family and got to go down the this lake which is so beautiful and very clear. The people that live there are very lucky to live in such a pretty part of the world!

Reindeer - a yummy lunch

Being the end of August, Kiruna is actually getting quite cold now, so we popped into a little cafe for lunch, in a big Sami tepee with a proper fire and everything, and everyone had reindeer Sami sandwhiches and tea, which was perfect for warming us up and for deciding what was next on the road trip! We also got to visit the handicraft shop where the Sami people make things to sell, like carving knives and tools and reindeer related products.


So the whole purpose of the trip was becasue I really wanted to see some reindeer. They are really popular in Sweden, they eat a lot of reindeer meat, with everything, and use their fur for lots of things. The Sami people keep and herd reindeer for a living and then use their antlers for tools, their fur for keeping warm and their meat for food. They can sometimes been seen from the roads in Kiruna, but I hadn't been lucky enough to see them. The Sami place had 18 of it's own reindeer that it kept, and you could go into their pen and take photos of them! It made me so very happy! They really are interesting animals, they all had their horns, which are quite furry and they were quite used to humans which made for some great photo oppourtunities!

Sami Park

With all 9 of us loaded into the two massive cars we had, off we went! On our trip we visited the SamPark up in Juggasvari. The Sami people are the local people of Scandinavia who move about making houses out of natural rescources and herd reindeer. So we learnt all about theiri houses and how they look after the reindeer and lasso them. So of course we got a go, and practiced for about an hour, making fools of ourselves trying to lasso the reindeer. So we moved on to a better target, Tom, being silly and acting like a reindeer!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Road trip 2: Reindeer!

On our second to last day in Sweden and the last day of our course we ended up with the afternoon off. I have been here 3 weeks and haven't been lucky enough to go see some reindeer so that's what we set out to do. We got a whole bunch of people, and rented two MASSIVE cars, and then drove up to a place near Kiruna called Juggasvari.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Kiruna Church

Just across the street from where we work is a beautiful church aptly named the Kiruna Church. So far, it's the only one in town, and it was voted Sweden's most beautiful building. For the whole country, that's pretty impressive. I'm told that it's built in the shape of a traditional Sami hut, and that's why it's the shape it is. It also has quite a non religious feel about it, mainly because this isn't a particularly religious place but also because the designers wanted the miners to have something bright when they came out of the mine. It is really well kept, with gleaming gold statues on the outside, and an awesome bell tower and on the inside it is all dark wood. It was a really nice visit for just a lunchtime visit. The founder of the mine is also buried here too.

Kiruna Ball

During our time in Kiruna, the boys have devised a sport called Kiruna Ball. It's a really cool game with a combination of football and netball with both basketball nets and football nets on the pitch. The kids living at Bromsgatten devised it because they lived in a place with an a really cool kids play park with a zip wire and everything! On Friday we all went to theirs for a BBQ and a world cup tournament for Kiruna Ball! It was great, and I even played one match and survived! At the end we took a really nice photo of all of us in celebration of the England team winning the first ever tournament of World Cup Kiruna Ball!

Saturday, 14 August 2010


As part of our course we built model rockets. Nothing snazzy, but it complimented our rocket science module, and got combined with a visit to the European Space Rocket Range, which is part of ESAs facilities and run by the Swedish Space Cooperation. Its quite a quiet place during the holiday, but is quite a deserted place specifically because they launch the MAXUS rocket from here, which can reach altitudes of 700km, that's WAY above the ISS. So we got to use their Balloon launch pad to launch some of our rockets, it was good fun, lots of noise and even some lost rockets!

Friday, 13 August 2010

67 Degrees Latitude

Being up this far north, the landscape is quite rugged and rocky. So you can imagine our shock on our drive back through Norway we discovered a tiny adorable perfect little beach. The weather was lovely and the sun was out so we went for a little walk and the boys went for a swim too. It was the most picturesque place we saw in all of Norway, and was obviously a popular place with the locals too.

What would Norway be without Vikings

On the Sunday, my birthday, we popped over to a place on the island called Borg, where they were holding a Viking festival, complete with tons of people dressed in traditional costumes,Viking music and stories, and we even got to go on a Viking boat and row it out to sea! That was much harder than we thought, even with lots of us. The commander of the boat actually looked Viking!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Midnight Sun

So up this far north, it really doesn't get very dark at night. We are actually past the time in the year where the Sun doesn't set at all, but at the moment it is just barely below the horizon, and it still isn't very dark. In fact, it's actually really hard to sleep when the sky doesn't actually get dark. We never are usually outside at midnight in Kiruna, so we took the oppourtunity after our unsuccessful fishing trip and fabulous BBQ to take a drive to follow the Sun at midnight. For some reason there was a beacon off on a stretch of land that Alain and Alex wanted to explore. And they came back with a beautiful bunch of wildflowers for me and sang me Happy Birthday at midnight, it was so nice! It hasn't really felt like my birthday lately, more that the days all rush into one, it was just so nice they remembered!

Watch out, a woman's BBQing!

As we began to get hungry, we decided to try and find a perfect spot for fishing and a BBQ - after all we had just spent a fortune on food in Norway. We drove around for quite some time, untill we found a little school, which, apart from being run down, was the perfect spot, it had its own fire pit AND access to the water, and it was (we hoped) public land. At least there was noone about if it wasn't. And best of all, there was a ship playground! Which was awesome! And so we set up the barbeques, and attempted the Norwegian instructions, and then I attempted to BBQ. The only reason for this was because the boys decided to try and fish, and this apparently resulted in them needing to get INTO the water. It was ok, I only dropped Nadeem's food five times into the ash (he still ate it!) And we had a great time trying to convince Alex not to steal the neighbour's boat. In all, it was a really nice evening, especially because it was still light at 11pm, which unless you have experienced it, is just plain strange and messes with your head!

Our cabin

Having arranged a cabin for extremely cheap (only 800 NOK) before we left Sortland, I was a b it anxious about what I should expect. And it was LOVELY! The whole thing was pine, wall to wall, and had several bedrooms, a massive lounge and kitchen area, and thankfully a bathroom. And it was in possibly the prettiest place we had seen so far. Totally deserted, apart from the other cabins there, and right across the road from a beautiful lake. After moving in, I took some photos before we went out so the boys could try their hand at fishing :/

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Deserted Svolvear

We got into Svolvear quite late in the afternoon, and as per Swedish tradition, everything was shut. Apart from a market stall with a little Swedish lady selling Reindeer pellets for uber cheap and the supermarket. Alain fell in love with the Reindeer and Alex with the shrimp at extremely low prices at the supermarket. The shrimp was the only thing cheap we ever found in Norway, this sign lies!

Fiskebol to Svolvear, a drive through the most beautiful scenery in the world

After the Ferry delay, we were keen to make it on our way and set off for Svolvear, the next biggest town on the island, hoping to do some sighseeing, and maybe find some food before driving down to our cabin. We stopped about every 20 minutes on this leg of the journey, everything was beautiful here. The mountains appeared much bigger here and the weather was fabulous.

On the ferry to Fiskebol

Finally the tiny little ferry arrived to take us to Fiskebol. It was only about a 20 minute boat trip, but we all went up on deck and took some pretty photos. Sea sickness isn't that great when you want to take photos, that's for sure! But after we got away from Melbu, the water was smoother, and we were right out in the middle of some amazing Fjords. We saw some lovely little houses on their own islands, it must be really beautiful to live there.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Melbu Ferry

As we drove down to our cabin, we needed to take a ferry from a place called to Melbu to Fiskebol on the Lofoten Island. When we arrived, we queued up to get onto the ferry only to find that we couldn't make it on the 2pm ferry (we missed it by one car!) so we had an hour to explore the cute little town of Melbu. The boys managed to pick up some cheap fishing equipment too, even though the salesman must have thought them crazy tourists!

On the road again...

Off we went from Sortland along towards the Lofoten Islands. It was such a beautiful ride and we found some lovely little villages to stop and take photos. The red huts are traditional Norwegian fishing huts andare really beautiful. All the roads along the way were along the Fjords, all winding and up and down the mountains. From time to time we found little harbourside villages, and we went out and climbed along the rocks. There was only one single road the entire way, and we had a iPod system so we were able to jam along to tunes the entire way. I may have bad music taste, but at least I enjoyed it!

Sortland, Norway

Late Friday we arrived in Sortland after looooots of driving. We made it to our little blue youth hostel and all stayed up playing Norwegian Trivial Pursuit! After crashing for the night, the next morning we went out to explore the town and the harbour. We went out for breakfast at our faourite store COOP and then we decided to split into 2 groups, one to go home and the other to continue on over to the Lofoten Islands. We organised a cabin for the night and set off.