Where are we now?
01.03.2014 - 03.03.2014 -7 °C
It seems like 2 weeks has passed since we last wrote in this blog. We had hit the Ice hotel in Kiruna Sweden where we had spent the first night in a warm room - then we were up and at them with our wildlife safari snow mobiling day ahead. What a blast! We took to it like teenage boys racing along the frozen lakes and climbing up the mountain. Lucky Mandy got a french chick to share with and when it was her she plopped them into a bit of a ditch. It looked quite boring when it happened but after 4 or 5 snowmobikes rode up and gathered around it looked like a freeway pile up. Manda was laughing so much she had trouble getting back on. We were led by Mati an interesting bloke - native Sami - who found us lots of wildlife - we got up close and personal with Moose (plural) and reindeer! Mati runs a farm of reindeer, icelandic horses and snowmobiling trips for tourists - we spent a good four hours out whizzing around getting pretty frozen before we were taken back for a nice lunch of reindeer stew. (Note to all children - Santa will be short a couple of reindeer at Christmas as i believe we have now eaten Prancer and Blitzen) Reindeer is delicious - sort of like a nice lean steak. After our big day out we headed back to the Ice Hotel and we had a Sauna - as you do - it was great (and i hate Saunas) but when you have a body temp of about 30 and you have spent 6 hours out freezing your snow suits off - a sauna is fantastic, no wonder they invented them!
Much restored we went into the ice bar for a pre dinner cocktail. A real bar, all ice, ice glasses and at a very reasonable (not) Mel and manda had a gin and rhubarb and tonic whilst I ventured into the frozen origami of peach schnapps, cranberries and a few other little bits. We then had dinner in the Hotel restaurant - mel and I had more Reindeer (there goes Rudolph) and we had cloudberries with arctic bramble ice cream for dessert - bottle of Peter lehman wine a steal at $60 (the cheapest!!) But it was delicious!!
AND THEN it was off for our night in the minus 5 ice room. We put on our thermals, gathered our sleeping bags and ran through to our ice bed with its (slightly smelly) reindeer skin coverings. Getting into both the liner and bag was a monumental effort and after we all had done that and lain for about 5 mins we were back up stripping off bits and unzipping like three ladies at the menopause clinic!!! We were very warm all night and we all successfully received our survival diplomas - great fun and a very different night sleep - had a glass of the compulsory warm lingonberry juice for our wake up call!
We had another great breakfast (they have been outstanding all the way along - will be hard to go back to a bowl of old porridge!
So having had a couple of very full days we packed ourselves off to the train station and headed for the tourist station at Abisko. We loved the view of all the snow field and mountains as we moved north and managed to arrive just in time for our next activity despite sitting in a snowy plain in the middle of nowhere for an hour and a half waiting for a switch to be fixed.
So at 6.00pm We walked down the road towards an old ricketty 2 seater chairlift - looks like something Perisher might have had in the 50's. We were given serious cold weather overalls which weighed about 20 kilos and we managed to get XL ones and fit them over our normal out side coast. We then caught the chairlift up the mountain in the dark - minus 12 degrees and upon reaching the top we went inside to a hut where we had a really delicious meal with delicious wine - Caviar entree, elk (moose) main course and arctic berry pannacotta for dessert. It then started snowing heavily and we thought "thats it we won.t see the lights tonight" So we sat and chatted to a very nice couple from Rockhampton - I was sent out to check the skies at regular freezing intervals but eventually we decided at 12.30 to leave. Struggling back into our suits we were a bit gobsmacked by the English family (4 kids - 2 of them very young) who are aurora addicts and are travelling for 9 months chasing them!! The trip down was beautiful - weather had cleared and so many stars - and shooting stars. We walked back to the lodge and went to bed.
BUT at 1.00am we wer lucky enough to have our first sighting of the lights! We were outside in our pyjamas with coats - nearly froze to death - but we saw them and they are unreal!
There is so much more to add to this but as I am about to get off the ship I am on and pop off to the North Cape (most northern point of mainland Europe) I don't have time now. With tricky wifi I will put this up and add to it later - hopefully I can get some photos up as well.
Next blog you will find out if we saw the lights again......