3 plane fights, a 1 hour drive and about 28 hours after leaving home, we reached our first Airbnb accomodation at Palange in Swedish Lapland last night at 8,30pm. Our flights were good, and the third flight from Stockholm to Lulea cut off a couple of days’ driving time for us.
When we were here 3 years ago, we drove the 900kms each way, and the drive north was nice because we camped in a forest and woke up to snow everywhere the next morning. The drive south was horrible though, with the sun sitting on the horizon and limiting visibility, snow flurries making it even harder to see and getting to the airport with the bare minimum of time to catch our flight to Dubai.
Anyway, that was last time. This time we’re doing it differently. For a start, we have brought hardly anything with us – no camping gear, hardly any electronics, just warm clothes and a couple of other things. My checked bag weighed 12kg, and my carry-on weighed about 4kg; Greg’s checked bag weighed 15kg, but he is also carrying a couple of very lightweight Helinox folding chairs and a folding table, because we might need them for sitting out and looking at lights (we hope!), and they can useful in hotel rooms as there is often only one chair and space for just one laptop. Greg’s carry-on weighed around 7kg as he carried both laptops and various other bits of electrical equipment. Compared with our usual combined 60kgs of checked baggage and 14+kgs of carry-on, wrangling such a small amount of baggage is a breeze.
We picked up our rental car at Lulea airport and to my great delight and amusement, it’s a Volvo! With heated seats (we call them ‘pizza warmers’, not that we have ever used them to keep a pizza warm, but we could) and very smart headlights which automatically dim from high beam when they detect an oncoming vehicle, then go back up to high beam when we’ve passed it. We’d actually booked something else, but when I looked at all the rental cars in the Hertz parking area, there only seemed to be Volvos. So Swedish!
Our Airbnb is a 100 year old timber house which is set up to offer group accommodation for at least 12 people, and is part of a campground in summer. It’s warm and very well insulated. We can see cars drive past on the road a few metres away, but can’t hear them because of the snow on the road and the triple-glazed windows. We’re spending a couple of nights here, then tomorrow we’re heading across the border and further north to Kolari in Finnish Lapland, and we’ll spend a week there. At the moment, sunrise there is at 10:30, sunset is 2:30, so there are plenty of night-time hours for watching Northern Lights. Greg is keeping an eye on the SpaceWeather website for information about solar activity.
Oh! And I’ve just remembered one other thing that Greg brought in his checked bag … a pruning saw. To build an igloo. As one does. Watch this space!