After a couple of days in Björkliden, it was time to change the scenery and go to Kiruna. There was two transfers available via Visit Abisko – first one around 9 a.m. and the second one at 3:10 p.m. We chose the latter one because we wanted to sleep in after the aurora chase last night. We had a lazy morning and had breakfast, and checked out at 11 a.m. Then we spent a few hours in the lobby bar. I was working and my boyfriend read a book. It was snowing quite heavily outside, so the atmosphere was quite idyllic (although a colleague sent me a Wikipedia definition of what holiday is when she saw that I was online).
Our trip to Kiruna took about 1 h and 45 min due to the weather, but then we could check into Hotel Arctic Eden. This time the room was much bigger, but the view was over the parking lot. 😉 Kiruna is not really an architectural gem and the views are far from dramatic.
We settled in and walked for about 15 min to Spis Mat & Dryck, which had really good reviews. We went for the set menu with wine, but I was rather disappointed. The main course was amazing, but the starters and the dessert were not great.
The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel and headed towards the town centre, because we had a tour booked at the LKAB, the mining company, which is the reason the town was formed, but also the reason the part of it is sinking and has to be moved by several kilometres.
Surprisingly the temperature rose from -17°C to +3°C, so everything was melting and becoming incredibly slippery.
The tour was fully booked and took surprisingly long 2 h 45 min. To be honest, for me it was too long. The most interesting part was actually riding the bus inside the mine and listening the introduction to the mine and to why the town was sinking and how the relocation is supposed to work. Apparently LKAB will either buy you out of the apartment for market price +25% or provide you with a new apartment.
Then there was a promotional video of how the mine and the sámi people all lived in perfect harmony and then a long explanation on how the iron ore pellets are manufactured. So yeah, all in all, I’m not sure if I would do this again.
After the tour we decided to have some food and we went for completely opposite from the night before – the food truck parked just across from our hotel. They had a really awesome reindeer sub, which we ate in a goahti by the open fire. There were also one of the owners, who was great to talk to and he also told that the relocation of the sinking part of town really impacted the living situation as the investors are buying all the available new apartments in hops of selling them for a high price later and it’s impossible to find a place to rent.
Then at 5:30 p.m. we were picked up from our hotel by Snowdog Company to go to their Sleddog Northern Lights Tour. This time it was quite cloudy, so there was no chance of seeing the northern lights, but also we rode our own dog sled. We got again some decent winter clothing, and were instructed how to control and guide dogs and the sled.
Our dogs had to switch places so there would be some resemblance of order. My boyfriend took the first shift guiding the sled and it’s a good thing he did. The dogs had so much energy that they pulled so fast that he had to use a lot of strength to control the speed. Apparently dogs are too fast for their own good, so they run very fast and can tire themselves out, so the speed needs to be controlled for dogs to last the entire 12 km run.
We changed places midway and it really took a bit of coordination to stay on the sled, lean into the turns, and brake with one leg at the same time. Also it was rather dark and despite the headlights we were wearing, the visibility wasn’t the best. But it was really fun. I did like that we got to enjoy sitting in the sled half of the way and then trying out guiding the dogs half the way.
After the ride we gave the dogs some meat and then sat around the fire and ate mushroom soup with some bread and drank glögg. Then they drove us back to our hotel.
The next morning we had breakfast and took a taxi to the airport. The airport is something like 8 km away from the city centre and it cost 364 SEK, which is a crazy price even by Swedish standards, but even the airport bus cost 175 SEK per person, so for two people even the taxi was worth it.
We really had a relaxing few days in the north and despite freezing our butts off a few times, we did manage to see both the northern lights and ride the dog sled, which were great experiences. I kind of want to visit Finnish Lapland now, so it seems by visiting one place I just added one more to my must visit -list.