I have to admit – one of the main reasons I chose Sweden as my exchange destination was the chance of seeing the Northern Lights, which has always been a dream of mine. With this in mind, I signed up for the ESN Scanbelt Lapland trip to explore places and sceneries in Lapland, hoping that my dream of seeing the Northern Lights would come true.
Our first stop brought us to Kiruna, where we stayed for one night. The city is famous for its big iron mine. Nowadays the city is also brought up in the news because of its relocation. The iron is located underneath the city, which means further mining will make the ground above too unstable to live on. We also saw Kiruna’s church, which was voted Sweden’s most beautiful building in the year 2014. On our first night we went out on a hunt to see some Northern Lights and walked up a hill to have a free view on the sky. Waiting in the cold resulted in my feet almost freezing off, but we finally saw them! They were weak, but definitely there.
The Ice Hotel
Another item on our agenda was visiting the famous Ice Hotel. Each room was created by a different artist – it was truly amazing to see what can be created out of ice. We also enjoyed a cocktail at the ice bar. The drinks were served in hand-made ice cups which we, after finishing our drinks, threw against a wall. It was a lot of fun!
Abisko National Park
Following the Ice Hotel we drove to our next destination, the Abisko National Park, where we would stay for the next two nights. From our room we could see over the frozen lake, as well as the mountains behind it. On our first night, while looking out of our window, we could see the mountains in the most amazing colours, tinted in a stunning pinkish tone. In the evening we set up a camp and grilled hotdogs and marshmallows. Unfortunately the sky was cloudy and there were no Northern Lights to see, which left everybody feeling a little disappointed, but we still had one more evening to go.
Narvik is a city located at the Norwegian border. On our way there we stopped at a beautiful fjord. The scenery was incredible! There were mountains left and right surrounding the endless water in front of us. After arriving in Narvik, most people in our group tried the whale burger which is served in a restaurant in the city centre.
Visiting the Sami
We also had the opportunity of meeting the Sami, the native folk of northern Europe who, depending on the season, travel through Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia. It was a really interesting experience, getting to know the Sami culture and learning about the challenges and opportunities that the Sami face while managing both modern and traditional ways of living. We also got to feed the reindeer!
Ice Sauna and the Northern Lights
On the last night of our trip we experienced the Ice Sauna, which meant being in the sauna until it’s really hot and then jumping into arctic water. It is more fun than it might sound! The sky was crystal clear and we saw the spectacular Northern Lights. Jumping into the icy water while having the Northern Lights above me is an experience I will never forget. They were moving in the sky in purple, green and white, it was amazing! This was a great ending to an amazing trip exploring Lapland.