Sweden, 2011


Baltimore - New York - Stockholm - Lulea

(a) Lulea - (b) Vidsel - (c) Jokmokk - (d) Gallivare - (e) Jukkasjarvi

Chris traveled to Vidsel, Sweden for business twice in 2011.  Both times he flew from Baltimore to New York-JFK to Stockholm to Lulea, and then drove from Lulea to Vidsel for work.  On his first trip, he was in Vidsel for two weeks in February and March.  The temperatures for this trip ranged from -40 (F and C), all the way up to 32 F (0 C).  The second trip to Vidsel lasted one week in June, and the high temperature was 95 F on this trip.  It was one of the hottest months of June they had had in a long time. On his one day off during the first trip, he and two co-workers drove 300 km from Vidsel to Jokkmokk, to Gallivare, to Kiruna and Jukkasjarvi, where they toured the Ice Hotel. It is 150 km north of the Arctic Circle.  The first photos are from Lulea and Vidsel.  You can probably figure out during which trip each picture was taken.


Lulea

Lulea

Lulea

Lulea

Lulea

Lulea

Vidsel

Vidsel

The Ice Hotel is made of ice(!) and snow, and is constructed in late fall each year from ice harvested from the Torne River the previous winter.  The ice is stored in a huge refrigerated warehouse all summer, and then cut and assembled into a new Ice Hotel.  It melts in early spring, and is rebuilt along a similar but unique design each year.  The beds are insulated pads on top of ice blocks, with reindeer fur and sleeping bags to keep the guests warm, and there are ice chairs in each room also.  The inside of the hotel is usually about -5 C.  Absolut Vokda sponsors an ice bar, with ice cups, and there is an ice church where people come to get married each winter.  They even have a Shakespeare Theater Company do productions in the middle of winter.

Artists decorate the ice and snow for each guest room of the hotel, independently, so every room is different.  Their favorite room was the polar bear room, and as they were admiring the bears, a lady walked in and told them that she was the artist for that room. She explained how she made the big bear (in sections, joined with steel rebar), how the Ice Hotel chooses the artists, and when they complete their work.  After the main structure is complete, each artist has a two week window to complete their room before the hotel opens to guests.  It is an expensive undertaking; the rooms start at about €200 per night for the basic rooms with minimal decoration.  It was €60 each, just to tour the Ice Hotel.  It was a neat experience though, and was definitely worth the drive from Vidsel.

Chris also took along two of his RC planes.  One plane was a small biplane that he flew in the hangar at the flying site, and outside, including at the Arctic Circle.  This plane has LED lights and he flew it at Jokkmokk, Sweden on one evening when he and his co-workers drove 100 km to visit the Arctic Circle.  Here is the video of that flight at the sign at the Arctic Circle.  The other plane he brought was one of his aerial photography planes, and he took still photos and airborne video of the area near Vidsel, and some very good aerial photos of the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjarvi. The two aerial photos on the left are looking north along the frozen Torne River towards Kiruna.  All the other aerial photos show the Ice Hotel itself, the supporting buildings around it, and some of the village of Jukkasjarvi.  Here is some aerial video from the second trip, in June, shot near Vidsel.
On March 2, 2011, there was a fantastic Aurora Borealis over northern Sweden, and Chris happened to be outside for work from 5 PM to 10 PM.  He had his camera and shot hundreds of photos of the aurora.  These are the best.  Tami picked her favorite four and had canvas prints made that now adorn the walls of our family room above the fireplace.

One of the largest rapids in Europe is right behind the hotel they stayed in; Hotel Storforsen.  The Storforsen rapids fall 82 meters in 5 km along the Pite River, and but they are mostly frozen over in winter, and the park with its walkway along those rapids is not accessible in winter.

The second trip was the week of 26 June. The sun was up almost 24 hours a day, as the solstice is June 21 and Vidsel is only 100 km south of the Arctic Circle.  Storforsen was at its peak flow at this time, and was incredible.  He and his co-workers made it as far a Jokkmokk and the Arctic Circle again on this trip, and visited the Storforsen rapids, as the park and walkway were open. This video shows the rapids at the height of their flow, on 28 June.

Northern Sweden is beautiful, even in the dead of winter. If you ever get a chance to visit that area, you should make the trip, as the region is great and the people are very nice and friendly.  The reindeer do get a little shaggy in the summer though...