Northern Lights Tour

My mom and stepdad visited us in Sweden for Christmas and New Years and I tried to take them on some truly Swedish adventures. One of those adventures was a Northern Lights wandering out in the arctic wilds near Kiruna.

I had to ask Linn (@booksnknitting) how to take pictures of northern lights and she talked me through setting up my camera with screenshots to help.

We went out with Britt from Guide in North and it was amazing! She met up with us and provided a bunch of winter clothes. After we suited up, we drove out of the city and into the dark. Already there were some waves of northern lights in the sky. And then we got into the sleighs behind scooters and went out onto a frozen river, farther out into the country.

The lights were amazing but I was even more blown away but just how many stars we could see. Britt even pointed out mars, winking red at us.

We saw a few moose, who stopped to stare back at us for a while. I did not get a picture of them. I happen to be weirded out by moose–they absolutely give me the heebie jeebies BUT my mom and Papa Pat got a kick out it.

Just when we were freezing our toes off, the tour continued up to a little cabin where we got to warm up by the fire, eat some food, drink some tea, and even have a bit of cake.

The lights were incredible, moving from one side of the sky overhead and to the other. It seemed like as soon as you marveled in one direction someone was pointing out the lights in another.

I don’t think Phong and I would ever have done anything like this if we weren’t entertaining guests.

If you find yourself in Kiruna and have any interest in going out to see the lights or look at moose or go fishing, I can’t recommend Guide in North enough. Britt and her husband were absolutely amazing and we had an evening we’ll never forget.

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From California to Sweden~What I miss and what I don’t

-Things I miss about California-

Halloween. It’s not really a thing in Sweden and I miss it. Growing up, we went to the pumpkin patch every year to pick out our own. My mom’s rule was that we could get any pumpkin we wanted, so long as we could carry it back on our own. I miss the haunted houses and adorable kids trying to remember what to say after getting up the nerve to ring the doorbell of a stranger.

Thunderstorms and downpours. I miss walking in it, garbage cans being swept down the street and getting soaked to the bone in a minute.

Cereal. I know that sounds silly. Of course, there’s cereal in Sweden but it’s healthy. They seem to think breakfast isn’t supposed to be dessert. Nonsense.

The smell of rain on hot asphalt.

Taco Bell. Don’t judge me.

Thanksgiving. Not actual Thanksgiving—just that week we get off from work/school. I miss that week…

Conversations with strangers. Yes, I’m one of those people that have a one-time interaction with someone in a line for coffee. It turns out that might be an American thing. Swedes look at me like I’m crazy sometimes if I try to talk to them in line. Even if I’m just giving them a compliment!

Target. It’s a recent infatuation but oh how I long for her. My desire is real, and it is red.

Roadside strawberries.

-Things I don’t miss about California-

The sun. I don’t tan, I just burn, and that’s hard living if you’re in California.

Apples that look perfect but taste like nothing. I’ll take the ugly little apples in Sweden any day.

It feels like all the cafes are Starbucks. Don’t get me wrong, I like Starbucks just fine, but Sweden is busting with privately owned cafes with their own bakeries and it’s amazing.

Public transportation. Outside big cities, it gets real sketchy real fast. Everyone has to have a car. My home town didn’t even always have sidewalks or crosswalks. You just had to get a ride to the other side or try making a run for it.

Did I mention the sun? I once burned my eyelids standing on a beach for five minutes talking to my aunt. Eyelids. Burned. Madness.

The spiders. Have you seen a wolf spider before? Google it if you want nightmares.

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IKEA!

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After living in Sweden for six years I finally, for the first time ever, went to an IKEA!

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I had no idea IKEA was so much fun! I did, although, know that Phong would be crazy entertaining wherever I happened to take him.

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Here he is trying out the stability of a bed for pull ups. He still talks about this bed, by the way.

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He leafed through magazines, lounged on couches and even tested every tablet he came across–just in case it actually worked.

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He spent a couple minutes tidying up the umbrellas. We were here for hours!

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Lunch time at IKEA! I had no idea how great this place was.

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Do all IKEA cafeterias have these adorable tray carts? I love them so much! We didn’t really need to take a cart, we were three adults, but come on!

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I also loved the conveyor belt that takes away your dishes! I wish my kitchen had one of these..

Phong and I are playing with the idea of an IKEA weekend, like a vacation, but we’ll go to IKEA instead of the beach or a cabin.

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Science Fiction Bokhandeln – Best Bookstore EVER!

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This treasure is in Gamlastan (Old town) in Stockholm and if you’re ever in the area you should definitely visit!

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What looks like a tiny shop is actually huge. Just keep going. The first floor of books and fandom swag goes up stairs to a platform of dvds and shirts and then up another set of stairs to a floor of boardgames. The first time I was here I didn’t even realize it was so big, I was so overwhelmed by the first section.

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In fact, the first time I was here I was so overwhelmed by all of the cute stuff and books that I didn’t buy anything! Nothing! I regretted it so!

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Phong found Thor’s hammer amidst the fanswag! Turns out he’s not worthy of ruling Asgard.

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I really wish we had one of these in Umeå. This is, hands-down, my favorite shop in Stockholm. Visit it! You’ll love it!

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Travel to Stockholm

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We went to Stockholm for the weekend. The flight from Kiruna down took about an hour and a half. We flew with Norwegian Air. I’ve only ever had good experiences with Norwegian. And Stockholm was blissfully without snow!

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Phong slept on just about every piece of transportation, as usual. He even fell asleep on the plane before take off and didn’t wake again until we were in the air.

 

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We took the bullet train between the airport and the train station in town. It’s a little more expensive than the bus but it only takes about 20 seconds and it was really comfy. It’s cheaper the more seats you’re buying at a time.

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We stayed at Scandic Sjöfartshotellet. Scandic is a chain of hotels here. We were surprised to find tiny twin beds in our room. The cabinet behind him in the picture folded down into a second bed. We moved the other one over so we could sleep next to each other. Phong and I sleep like otters. We hold hands. I didn’t know this was an otter thing until Phong heard about how they hold hands so they don’t drift away from one another at night.

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Swedish hotels have great breakfast buffets! Breads with different spreads, cheeses, veggies and meat slices. Baked beans, bacon, eggs and much more.

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This particular Scandic also had teapots you could fill and bring to your table. A nice touch.

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The whole hotel was very nice. Big gym downstairs. Happy staff. And a good breakfast.

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