Goodbye Sweden – Hello Norway

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Abisko is very close to the Norwegian boarder so when I left I headed west and very soon I were in Norway. There are two ways of going from Sweden to Norway here. One possibility is by car and the other by train. The first time I came here was about 20 years ago and then I went by train http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Ore_Line. I still remember that I wanted to write in my diary during the train ride, but had to stop because it was so beautiful outside that I just had to look out. Some 10 years later I was here again and full of joy I drove my car from Sweden to Norway and was so disappointed because by car you miss this incredible beauty. So now, another 10 years later, I go by train.
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I left Abisko together with a Chinese student. We talked a bit during the tour. When we crossed the Swedish-Norwegian boarder and we saw the first glimpse of the Rombaksfjord he just turned to me and said; – You must be very proud living in this country. I don’t know if he ment Sweden or Norway, but it doesn’t matter, I live in both countries. And Yes, I am very proud of my part of the world!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rombaken

Narvik has a very interesting history, but unfortunately I had just some minutes to catch the bus to Harstad and arrived there in the evening.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narvik
Tomorrow I will embark the Hurtigrute and sail through the Vesteraalen Islands to Lofoten.

Arriving in Kiruna and Jukkasjärvi

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In the evening I arrived in Kiruna, a city mainly known for its important iron ore. During World War II this iron played an important role even if Sweden did not participate actively in the war. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiruna.

Today travelers come to Kiruna to visit Jukkasjärvi (18 km outside Kiruna) and the ICEHOTEL http://icehotel.com/
My first impression is that this is a really well organized and professional place. Everything is logic, effective, designed and “makes sense”.
There are guests from all over the world and it is a kind of strange to find a small village in a middle of Lapland that is like a melting pot of people from all over the world. The last time I felt equally international must have been on the Dubai Airport.
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Arriving at the ICEHOTEL I was warmly welcomed by Beatrice, from the Press and Marketing department at the ICEHOTEL. We had a fantastic dinner (I feel like an old gramophone that repeat myself all the time) and we had capercaille. My spell check keep on showing a spelling error but it is not – it is obviously a very rare word. See here … http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capercaille You can eat them and it was good!
At the ICEHOTEL the main chef is a globetrotter and extremely good, experienced and internationally trained in his profession.

My plan was to sleep in one of the cold rooms of the ICEHOTEL and I needed some mental build-up and that gave me the best reason in the world to visit the bar.
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2 glasses of wine later and it was almost midnight, I decided it is time to go to bed. It was an experience to sleep in a room made of snow and ice. You sleep in a thermal sleeping bag on a bed built by ice blocks, a wooden frame, mattress and it is topped with reindeer skins.
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In ICEHOTEL it never gets colder than –5 to -8ºC, regardless of the fact that the outdoor temperature sometimes drops down to -30º. After a bit of practicing how to keep my face warm by wrapping the sheets around it but still have free space in front of the mouth I slept the whole night. In the morning a lovely lady woke me up with a cup of warm lingonberry juice.
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The ICEHOTEL is a unique hotel and product with a lot of things to do. I tried Ice driving that is not only a lot of fun; it is also a good training if you drive on snowy roads like I do.
Fredrik showed me some exercises with the four-wheel-drive Mini’s he has in Jukkasjärvi.
At the end we changed seats and he drove… WOW! I have a lot to learn how to drive on ice.