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January 2nd 2011
Published: January 2nd 2011
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Happy New Year Everyone!!!

Kiruna, the place where you can see a sunrise and sunset at the same time, hear and feel explosions from the underground at 1am every morning, witness the amazing sight of the Northern lights and much more.

The arctic area of Sweden is just a fantastic spot in the world to celebrate the beginning of New Year. Chris has been in the north of Scandinavia before (but in summer time) and for Diana is first time in the north. It is awesome to experience real winter in Arctic Circle. Well Kiruna is a small city in the north of Sweden, but the main spot for Swedish Lapland. The population reaches 20.000 inhabitants, but it seems much bigger because it is a touristic place also. Quite cosy, friendly and beautiful city.

The first day we got to see one of the amazing things on this earth – The Northern Lights (we realised two nights latter that they are much more stronger than this night). Well most of tourists are coming to the north to see this phenomenon. A lot of Japanese tourists are here as they believe that the Northern Lights bring happiness if they have seen it. So if you want be happy, go and come to see it! 😉 The sky is becoming green and if you lucky enough you can see red and blue colours also. To stand on the edge of the world and watch the Northern Lights is amazing feeling. Actually astronauts are measuring this phenomenon on a scale between 1-9 (1 – little green, 9 – really green). We saw it like 2 on the scale and it was quite green. Often the Northern Lights are coming up suddenly and disappear quite fast. You have to keep your eyes on the sky all the time. The best time to see the northern lights are in the late evening in a dark area, cold and clear night. In winter time the sunrise and the sunset is occurring in same time. It means that it is night 24 hours per day. In the morning you can feel that it is late afternoon or evening. Well we felt quite tired at 11am and it seemed like 7pm. We needed time to get used to it.

We went and visited the iron ore mine in Kiruna and this is the world’s largest underground mine. It is a fascinating operation, where ore is mined far below the surface using remotely operated machines and driverless trains. It was a great experience to travel by bus straight into the mountain and down through the mine (545 meters down in the mine). Quit spooky to go through dark mines and imagine that many people is working there every day. The guide showed us around the authentic mining environment, a film, a museum etc. Every night (at 1.10am-1.20am) you can feel an earthquake, but of course it isn’t one – it is the explosives in underground of the mine. Stay awake and experience it! It is one of the most impressive places to visit in Kiruna.

Kiruna is known for having a beautiful church. It is a fabulous place and it is a ‘must’ to see in this city. It is a modern wood building with a great garden around surrounding with interesting stone formations close by. Also the town hall is a special place in Kiruna and worth to visit. The view is great, you can see the underground mine and landscape around from the town hall. The winter is beautiful and makes this place magical.

A highlight of this area is Ice Hotel of course. We took our chance to see this amazing art creation. Actually when we arrived to the hotel we were disappointed because it seems to be a quite small building of ice and snow. Well when we got inside the building we were surprised how big and spectacular the place is in reality. The Ice hotel contains 60 rooms (20 rooms are exclusive), a church, a bar and a big hall. The hotel is build of artificial snow and they grow the ice in the river behind Ice Hotel (they store the ice in big freezers in spring time and keep over the summer there). Every year the hotel looks different and people from whole the world is constructing it (it is like a competition and you also could send your ideas to this place, and maybe you’ll have a chance to build a room there 😊). It isn’t really cold in the hotel (just -5 degrees which is natural insulation from the snow), but outside the temperature is between -15 to -40 degrees often in the middle of the winter. Crazy that people is sleeping in the ice hotel and we have heart that it isn’t really cold because the guests are getting warm cloths, winter sleeping bag and sleeping on the reindeer skin which keeps you warm. If you aren’t warm enough you always welcome to visit the Ice Bar and get Swedish “Absolute Vodka” drink and we can promise that it will keep you warm! The exclusive rooms look amazing and creative. We were surprised that it takes just two weeks to make one room because there are many small details and it looks like an awesome painting. Around the ice hotel there are many different activities, for example skiing, snowmobiles, dog sledding etc. The place is really unique and it was higher than our expectations.

One of the most famous activities in the north is dog sledding. Unbelievable to sit in a sled and few dogs are taking you in the middle of nowhere. Well we did a night tour of dog sledding (because it is never day light in the winter time 😊) and the northern lights made several apperiances during the trip. Snow, coldness, great company, cool dogs, beautiful northern lights and harmony. You are sledding through the forest and enjoy the most amazing landscape. We were lucky enough to see clearly the northern lights and enjoy fantastic view. We took a break in a hut in middle of the forest where it was open fire, snacks and warm drink – can it be better?! These dogs are quite restless creatures and they were barking until we got on the road again. A fantastic experience.

Since we ended up doing quite many things for this trip we decided to split this into two blogs so the other is to follow..

Additional photos below
Photos: 74, Displayed: 26


2nd January 2011

Great story
w'eve been wanting to do this. Really enjoyed your blog and awaiting the next addition.
2nd January 2011

Cheers :)
Thanks for the comment.. The rest of Kiruna will be up in two days :) A great place in the North it is.
3rd January 2011

Looks like you had a great time...the photos are amazing !!! Will talk soon Mum xxx
3rd January 2011

Oh my god is this the ice church? My fiancee & I are getting married there on February 21st :-)
3rd January 2011

Lucky you :)
Hey Chris and Nikki, We were thinking of doing the same thing when we visited the church :) It is amazing! Are you going to have the proper dress or wearing the nice warm clothing.. i can tell you it will be a quick wedding if wearing the dress :) But it is only -5deg inside the ice hotel due to natural insulation but outside it can be quite cold.... You'll have a memorable experiance for sure and congrads :)

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