One month in what was, in my opinion, the most beautiful country…in the world!! There, I said it! The competition is still out as there’s heaps of the world left for us to see but Norway really was breathtaking.
I’m actually glad we didn’t see moose or reindeer in Norway, otherwise Sweden and Finland would be set up for failure with impressing us. We’re leaving the midnight sun, and from now on we’ll be seeing sunsets and maybe, maaaybe it will actually get dark at night?! What an odd thought. It’s quite weird how you never have to worry about how late you start a hike in summer. It’s going to drastically change though as we head south, maybe I’ll wake up in the night and have a better idea of what time it is…instead of, it’s light, it could be 2am or 10am.
The weather wasn’t playing game as we drove through Sweden via Abisko. We did an uneventful hike in the national park and then drove east to Kiruna; what an ugly town! They mine iron ore and due to vast amounts of it in the town, are planning to relocate the entire town centre 3km away within the next few years.
Near Kiruna is Jukkasjarvi which is best known for its ice hotel in winter. In summer though it hosts events in the one road village such as a Sami market which we visited. The Sami people are indigenous to the area and Sápmi, the land of the Sami, spans four national borders. They make a living by herding reindeer, which they used to do with skis, or sleighs, now they use modern skidoos or helicopters!!
The Sami’s have their own parliament, flag and language. The market was a little pathetic, I was expecting lots of locally made handicrafts but only a few stalls offered this, the others sold kids toys, crocs, and liquorish…tons of the stuff!! I soon realised though that we spent almost all our Swedish money as we were leaving the country the next day. Which ment I couldn’t buy a ridiculously soft reindeer rug sold by a Sami man who couldn’t speak English and had to write the price down.
I did manage to spend our final £5 though, I spotted a beautiful necklace with three reindeer antler points hanging on it. It was being sold for 100kr and I decided, you don’t ask you don’t get, so I asked if it was possible to have just one antler point for 58kr. She said yes and gave me the whole necklace instead, what lovely people!!
The main road from here was appalling, it had entire sections of tarmac missing and just dropped down a few inches. There wasn’t a direct route into Finland so we had to head north or south. We opted for north. It was one lonely road, just wilderness, and only a handful of houses in one area then nothing again.
We stayed in an area which had reindeer prints in the sand so attempted to follow them. What a nightmare…damn Mosquitos everywhere! Literally swarms over our heads, I had to grab the ends of my hair and wave my hair up and down; Craig said I had mozzies all over me. You just couldn’t stand still, it was awful.
When we got back to Pablo, we were running! I announced that the only way this would work was to unlock the van, then run around it three times and quickly open the door. When I put the bed up Craig waited outside with the electric racket zapping them all. I finished making the bed and decided to watch the show outside of Craig dancing with the Mosquitos before saying “OK, you can come in now!!”. The poor thing laid on the bed, rolled over and blood splats were on the sheet from Mosquitos biting his chest.
The next day, we were driving along and Craig said “oh, there’s something ahead, maybe a sheep, or rubbish, oh wait, ITS A REINDEER!!!” Wahoooooooo! It crossed the road right infront of us. It looked like a young one with small furry antlers. I was so happy – they exist!! Another 20km up the road and we saw another one! This one just slowly trotted along the road ahead of us, it had such funny legs, all dangly and clumsy.
We might of only spent a very short period of time in Sweden but at least we saw reindeer, and I think they were wild as they didn’t have any tags. HOORAY!