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Published: November 25th 2021
Riding a draisine is so much fun that we have decided to do this maybe once a year.
From the TV-shows Monty Python and Survivor to Swedish Cold War military heritage Draisine
Last summer we spent half a day riding a draisine
on Dellen Railway. We absolutely loved doing that. It was so much fun that we have decided to do this maybe once a year. There are about 30 places in Sweden where it is possible to ride draisine so we won't run out of options for this activity in the near future.
This summer we found a company in the tiny hamlet Vitvattnet
, about half an hour by car north of Kalix town, which hires draisines for rides on an abandoned section of the Haparanda Line
On hot days there are a few reindeers that seek out the cool temperatures inside a railway tunnel along the line. We were lucky and saw these animals. Here is a short film of that. Survivor/Robinson
The Swedish version of the TV show Survivor is named Robinson. Most seasons this show has been recorded on tropical islands in various parts of the world. In 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, they recorded the show on the island Seskarö
On hot days there are a few reindeers that lurk around near a railway tunnel. We were lucky and saw these animals.
Sweden instead. We decided to locate one of the beaches they used then and camp there for a night. So we can now claim that we have slept on a Survivor beach.
On Seskarö Island we found a memorial over an episode in Swedish history that we had never heard of before. In 1917 people protested against food shortages, protests that turned into riots. Eventually military was called in to restore order on Seskarö again. Haparanda Haparanda Town
is right on the border with Finland. On the other side of the border is the Finnish town Tornio. Together these towns effectively create a twin city. Well, at least that was true before travel between the two countries became restricted. During the pandemic we guess that they were more like two neighbouring towns with little in common.
We didn't bother with the hassle of crossing the border to Finland this time. We are both fully vaccinated so we guess that it would have been a straightforward process of just going to the border checkpoint and present the vaccination card. But we had no business in Tornio and we had enough things to
A stream the railway line crosses.
see and do in Sweden so we couldn't see the point.
So we never actually crossed the border to Finland. But at another place we actually came within 15 meters from the border. More about that later.
Last year they in Haparanda put up a few humorous pedestrian signs next to the normal signs. The one that got the most publicity was depicting John Cleese
as the civil servant in the sketch the Ministry of Silly Walks
. Unfortunately the signs had to be removed since Swedish law doesn't permit them. But the John Cleese sign was not scrapped. It now hangs on a wall in the tourist information. We think it sucks that they in this particular case couldn't make an exception from the letter of the law and permit them. Seriously, we all need to laugh more than we do and John Cleese helps us do that. The Arctic Circle
Just over an hour by car north of Haparanda is the Arctic Circle
. We just had to go and see it. Well, for obvious reasons it's not visible so we couldn't see it per se. But there is a sign saying where the Arctic
Vitvattnet train station
This section of the Haparanda Line may be abandoned, but the train station is still there. Inside it felt a bit like a time capsule
Circle is and some information about it. Kukkolaforsen Kukkolaforsen
is a rapid in the Torne River. Next to the rapid there are, among other things, a camp site, a restaurant and a museum. We went there mainly because they offer something that we've never encountered before - a dinner on the river.
In summer fish migrate up Torne River to find calmer water in which they can reproduce. The Kukkolaforsen rapids are slightly difficult to pass and the fish can't do it in one go. They swim some of the way, find themselves a sheltered place and rest for a while. After having rested they swim a bit further. When they rest, they are easy to catch. If you know where the hollows are, all you need is a hand net to sweep them up.
Today this method of catching fish is restricted to prevent overfishing. But in order to demonstrate the old traditions, each year a simple jetty, reaching almost halfway across the river, is built in the rapids.
During a short period each summer the restaurant at Kukkolaforsen once a day offers one couple or
In the playground the kids could play with a toy timber truck. That could only happen in northern Sweden
group of people to have dinner on this jetty. When we learned about it we called them and booked a table, because this was something we felt that we just had to do.
It was awesome to sit there halfway into the rapids and have dinner. The setting itself alone made this into a fabulous dinner. The fact that the food was really good and interesting as well of course made everything even better.
As we mentioned above, the jetty reaches almost halfway across the river. Torne River marks the border between Sweden and Finland and the border runs right in the middle of it. So when we were at the tip of the Jetty we probably weren't more than about 15 meters from Finland.
Below Kukkolaforsen it is possible to swim in Torne River. We did, and the water was actually much warmer than we expected. If we had been up for it, I think we could have swum across to Finland. At least the temperature of the water wouldn't have stopped us. But maybe the Finnish coast guard would have... Siknäs Fortress
After Kukkolaforsen we
TV show beach
The Swedish version of the TV show Survivor was in 2020 recorded in Sweden. This beach on the island Seskarö was then used for one of the camps
started travelling south again. When we passed Kalix we made a short stop at Siknäs Fortress, a disused military fort housed in tunnels inside a mountain. In summer they have tours of the fortress. But sadly, the tour we wanted to join was full and we would've had to wait one hour for a tour that we could get a ticket for. That was not an option. We saw what little of the fortress that was visible from the outside and travelled onwards to Boden, where there is similar fortress which also is open for the public. Boden
In Boden Ake visited Boden Fortress. Emma for some reason wasn't very interested in seeing a fortress inside a mountain (and Ake can't see why...). It was an interesting tour, but it was a tad bit too long. If the guide had talked a little less and told fewer anecdotes from when he worked there, the visit could have been shortened by half an hour and that would have been just perfect.
Here we quit for now. More stories and photos from our summer vacation will come in the next blog entry.
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