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'19 Aug: St. Petersburg, Russia
It was 1984 when I sailed away from Helsinki Finland after a grueling work stint and, so exhausted, I cried for not having had the chance to visit St. Petersburg.
'19 Aug: Tallinn, Estonia
'Estonia..performs favorably in measurements of economic freedom, civil liberties, education, and press freedom. Citizens are provided with universal health care, free education..' and more!
'19 Aug: Riga, Latvia
According to UNESCO, the Art Nouveau Capital of the World!
'19 Aug: Vilnius, Lithuania
I was here for the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way which was an excellent treat.
'19 Aug: Minsk, Belarus
Back to the not-so-long-ago past, home of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
'19 Sep: around Sweden
Lapland and the High Coast with Lill and her squad: Tony, Jim, Rick, Baby, Marita. Nice!
'19 Sep: Eslöv, Sweden
PHASE TWO at Per and Marita's House. Eslöv, Lund, Lovestad-Kyrka-Sjöbo-etc, Malmö.




Click HERE and all the pictures in this chapter will get big.

September 1

I flew over to Stockholm yesterday to meet up with Ingalill and her compatriots for four nights visiting the Swedish part of Lapland.

The Lapp people are nomadic and live above the Arctic Circle in parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. I hope to learn more about them.

Good night in a very cool hotel steps from the terminal gates in the Stockholm airport, when I had a relaxing evening and then met the gang for dinner.

Our morning flight to Kiruna was uneventful and here we are in the airport, me Not getting the car! I am just a tag-along here and it's going to be FUN.

Lill, Jim, Rick, Baby

We settled into our very cool house and then hit the road for a visit to an abandoned ski lift area. A sunbather! It was probably around 55 degrees, a heat wave in Kiruna.

Lill and Baby.

Jim and Rick.

Aww.

Jim, Rick, and I went for a walk while Tony and Lill went to the police station in an effort to move forward the resolution of Lill's Big Problem. She got pickpocketed back in Stockholm and lost both her Swedish and her US passport. It could happen to anyone and, so selfishly, I'm just happy it wasn't me!

This is an historic church. We'll go inside another day and I'll look up the details then.

Some delightful Swedish tourists who told us some information about the church.

It's a Clustered Bellflower which I know because google said so.

This was a wooded stroll in a plot of forest just around the church and two blocks from our house.

Then there was the arrival of Marita, grocery shopping, and dinner. And tomorrow we have a big day planned including a visit to the Ice Hotel.

September 2

Jukkasjarvi Church, the oldest wooden church in Lapland..

..completed in 1608.

A brightly colored altar piece depicts the coming together of traditional Sami and Christian traditions.

A nice design.

Sami Siida Visitor Center, where you can eat Sami food and buy Sami handicrafts and see a very pretend Sami family compound.

The Sami flag. More to tell about the Sami people later. ((Our flight is at 6AM, In The Morning, so up at 4:15AM.))

We came to the Ice Hotel for a tour. This is the complex where they cut and store the blocks of ice from the river and also there are wooden cabins by the river and a small wooden hotel to accommodate guests who have had it with sleeping in the Ice Hotel.

Notice the river...

...and the flat field of pebbles. The field is bigger than it seems here...

...and every year the actual Ice Hotel is built new. And then it melts.

Even after the 'real' Ice Hotel melts "there is still a spectacular exhibition of ice sculptures located in a solar powered and turf covered cold room on the riverbank."

This Ice Hotel is also open for visitors.

What makes both the year-round and the winter Ice Hotel so special are the art rooms - each room designed and built by a different artist.

The temperature remains at a constant -6c, ponchos provided. I was entirely comfortable the whole time and can easily imagine snuggling down in one of the rooms, but I can also easily imagine that one night would be quite enough.

Following are just a few of the Art Rooms.

Another one...

...and another one. We all loved it. In the winter the hotel also has many plain rooms since it is expensive to stay at the Ice Hotel although not as expensive as I at first thought. You can stay for $300-1000 per night.

No problem figuring out how to run a cash register at the Ice Bar where your beverage comes in a hand carved Ice Glass.

Baby, Ingalill, Tony, Jim, Marita, Rick, me

Ingalill and Tony live across the street from where Brigitte and Knut used to live and that's how I met them. Marita is Lill's best friend from elementary school in Sweden. Jim and Lill worked together for years and Lill and Tony and Jim and Rick have travelled together often. Baby is Jim's sister.

Next stop - Nikkaluokta, the starting point for several hiking trails...

...to some of Sweden's highest mountains and a stop on the Kungsleden (Kings Trail).

These guys had just come down after several days on the trail. I think they did the whole King's Trail and they were Very Happy.

The guidebook says there should be a small Sami village (Sami are the Laplanders of this area) but we found just a few buildings for backpackers.

There was supposed to be a Sami restaurant too but the woman at the information desk said we'd have to walk one and a half hours to get there. In winter a snow cat could take us but in summer you have to walk. So no Sami lunch for us!

More of the multitude of mushroom varieties growing wild.

This is a church.

On the drive home one or another of us cried out Look! Look! so many times until we had to stop stopping.

It was getting dark...

...but Look!

More.

Last one (for now...).

Reindeer in the wild!

REINDEER. Not how I pictured it, that they would be like deer by the side of the road, but still, I'm Happy.

Lill and Marita loudly proclaiming Swedish songs from their youth.

A view out the living room window.

September 3

In the small woods surrounding Kiruna Church we find this beautiful stone wall..

..and a stone circle.

A wooden church in the shape of a Sami goahti, or tent. The architect was Gustav Wickman, it was completed in 1912 and donated by the LKAB Mining company to the people of Kiruna.

Those golden statues around the outside at second floor level are said to represent a different state of mind – from shyness and sadness to love and despair.

internet.

"In 2001, Kiruna Church was voted the most popular pre-1950 building in Sweden, in a country-wide poll conducted by the Swedish Travelling Exhibitions, a government agency connected to the Ministry of Culture. It is considered to be "the Shrine of the Nomadic people.""

You can see the altar below on the left, in the Art Nouveau style, the altar and the painting famously created by Prince Eugen, Duke of Närke.

Dogs appear often; we swarm those dogs.

I was dying to meet an actual Sami person so I asked this woman at a shop, where do the Sami people live around here. She said "Here's one, it's me," although she was quick to point out she was "a half-Sami girl". She was very generous with her time and I was so happy we got to chat.

I saw this image in many forms, a moose with his head in the ground. I have no idea what this is meant to represent.

Two old guys chatting in Sweden. I understand this is common. These guys could have been friends their entire lives but they would still sit six feet apart to visit.

This afternoon we toured the Kiruna Mine, the largest and most modern underground iron ore mine in the world. The mine is owned by Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara AB (LKAB), a large Swedish mining company.

And Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara AB (LKAB) is 100% owned by the Swedish government, so really, isn't the mine owned by the government.

Because the mine is so rich in iron ore and there is so much more to be had, the town is sinking and it is worth it to the government to pay to move much of the town.

The Guardian wrote a good article about the town, the mine, and the move so you can copy-paste this link if you're interested:

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/architecture-design-blog/2014/oct/22/kiruna-sweden-town-moved-east-iron-ore-mine

I fear..

..I don't have..

..patience enough..

..to write about the mine since the Guardian article is excellent..

Lill, me, Rick, Baby, Jim, Marita, Tony

..and what more would I find to say?

Our almost unintelligible guide.

Lill, Rick, Baby, Marita, Jim, Tony

We were obsessed with trying to catch the Northern Lights although there was little chance. Still, we followed this website compulsively. You can copy-paste this link and follow along for yourself.

https://services.swpc.noaa.gov/images/aurora-forecast-northern-hemisphere.jpg

And despite the super-slim odds, we went out thinking who knows, it could happen. It didn't.

Us and the cars looking up.

September 4

Today's adventure: Abisko National Park, about an hour north of Kiruna and home to the Abisko Scientific Research Station and the beginning of The King's Trail.


Red wood buildings with white trim is the predominant style all over Sweden.

I snapped this from the car window as we were leaving because I realized none of my pictures had the landmark image of Abisko National Park.

Baby, Rick, Jim, Lill

You can see the boardwalk there in the upper left..

..I love a good boardwalk! Easy walking through gorgeous landscape..

..to places I couldn't reach otherwise.

More, wow.

Then I decided to continue on, to walk to the lake. The boardwalk went on for a short distance on those two boards..

..and then the boardwalk led to a groomed trail the rest of the way.

In this park and in all the others too, the trails are nicely marked.

I met up with Lill and Marita here and we enjoyed the views. There was a sauna house to the left of this picture but it was locked. What a perfect place for a sauna and then a jump into an icy lake.

We are seven travelers and the acquisition and consumption of food has fallen into a routine.

For breakfast we have cereals with milk or yogurt, fruit, bread, crackers, etc with cheese and cold cuts, and sliced tomatoes and sliced cucumbers.

For lunch we have sandwiches or left-overs, I'm having a hard time remembering it all.

For dinner we've had a restaurant meal, take-away pizza, take-away Thai, spaghetti and meat sauce, and chicken curry.

It's been so smooth I'm mightily impressed.

A nice trail leading to..

..an example of some Sami buildings.

Back at the house, these four nights have been so comfortable, we had a good sized eat-in kitchen and a living room big enough for everyone to play games.

Tony, Jim, Lill, Rick, Baby, Marita

A view out the back porch, stockpiling wood for the winter.

September 5

We're all up before dawn to get to the airport to fly to Umeå and then drive to our next stay, 2 nights on the High Coast along the Baltic.

It was about an hour drive to our cabin named Forest Guardian, at Hyndtjärn 104 - 870 30 Nordingrå.

It rained for a while and then it stopped which was the pattern during much of my stay in Sweden, rain a while and then stop.

Salsaker is involved too?

Flyg Kiruna till Umeå, kör Umeå till Salsaker, kör Salsaker till Sundsvall, tåg Sundsvall till Eslöv?

The shopping crew headed out for groceries, an activity in which I never participated and about which I feel a little guilty, but apparently not that guilty because I basically don't care what people buy and my presence would amount to Too Many Cooks.

Then it was time for a stroll around the 'hood.

That's either a lake or a river or a finger of the Baltic.

You can't tell so much from this picture but we were going down a pretty steep hill for a pretty long time, and this was after a previous leg of steep up and back down.

More red houses and white trim.

Those are bee hives and I would have for sure bought some honey but they were closed.

More.

At this point I thought prudence should prevail and I would turn back knowing what was in store for me to get back up that hill.

Bye all! Bye Jim, Rick, Lill, Tony, Marita.

And then they found a short cut back and didn't have to go up that hill!

This reminded me that I didn't take any pictures of the daisies up in Lapland, of which there were many.

It's fun when you find some color in the forest.

On my way back I went down a short path to catch this photo of More red buildings with white trim.

September 6

Today I climbed a mountain!

Super thanks to everyone else who let me tag along and special super thanks to Rick who hung back with me on the way down, who was always there to offer a steadying hand.

I found this on the map = Skulebergets naturreservat, Höga Kusten Upplev världsarvet, Länsstyrelsen Västernorrland

There were three types of trail, the rooted slippery forest..

..a more clear path through trees and rocks..

..and expanses of open rock.

Notice the blue dots. I showed some path markers on another day too. You can see how there's a mark on both sides of a corner so you could see them coming up and going down.

There's a Where's Waldo white and red flag and behind it a blue dot on a tree. The flags appeared often when you needed them most.

So Many Babies. I could hardly believe it, and that's GRANDMA carrying the baby up the mountain.

Marita and Lill up by a picnic table, about one-half of the way up.

The goal is in sight!

I didn't take any more pictures until I was practically down. I guess I just wanted to preserve my strength?!

Rick, who made it possible for me to do the round trip before it got dark.

The guy in the white shirt is climbing apparently without ropes.

This is the Skuleskogen National Park, at the heart of the High Coast, and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

From the web, the Forest Guardian house where we stayed for two nights.

September 7

Big travel day today on the 7th. As I write this on the 13th the sequence is no longer clear, but I think we just drove about an hour to drop off the car and pick up an 8 hour train journey through Stockholm to Marita's home in Eslov, near Malmo and Copenhagen.

Two of the same picture, but not exActly the same, so, I can't choose.

On the drive we took a small detour to see a famous bridge.

Timing-wise this picture goes here, but where were we and what were we doing? Looking at our phones.

I told before about the immediate swarm when any dog appears and this time there were several dogs.

We arrived late at the Eslov train station, to Per and Marita's lovely home. The next chapter will tell all about it.
Click HERE and all the pictures in this chapter will get big.


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