Sweden Day 4 – Ice Hotels, Reindeer Feeding and Green Lights

Sorry for the slight post gap – catch up with days 1, 2 and 3!

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We had a lazy morning before our afternoon and evening excursions which was nice as it meant a lie in! Always a plus in my book. Our cabins were wonderful, I wish I took a picture of them but it was super homey.

After breakfast we decided we would have a wander around and a play in the snow! It was a beautiful morning (as most of them were) so we took a walk down to the Aurora Viewing platform which was basically just a platform in a clearing but it made for some good pictures. The snow was pretty deep so it was an experience for me!

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We are pretty sure that this is the hotel smoker.

After a wander around and a walk along a cross country ski path we found my in laws and friends sledging down a hill in the hotel luggage sledges.

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A short while later we all hopped on the bus and headed off for our first experience of the day – the Jukkasjärvi Ice Hotel. It was half an hour drive from our hotel to the River Torne and the famous icy hotel. It was first built in 1990 and has been a fixture in the small village every year since.

Traditionally it was only there between October and April (depending on the weather) however in the last year they have developed the Ice Hotel 365 which is permanent feature – meaning you can actually stay there in the summer!

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We had a quick tour from a guide who explained about the process of cutting the ice, creating the casts used to build the walls and how they cover them in snow. There are about 6 corridor’s in the “27” hotel (the older traditional one) and 3 of them the rooms are all individually designed with sculptures. Apparently anyone can pitch an idea and then artists come in with chainsaws to sculpt the ice.

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There is also a beautiful chapel within this hotel where they hold several weddings a year!! Pretty cool – literally!

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When we entered the 365 hotel it was a good few degrees colder which was a slight shock to the system! Luckily this is also where the bar is located! Each drink gets served in an ice glass! They also ship the ice glasses round the world to other ice bar’s they run – one of which is in London.

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After a cocktail and a seat in the frozen bar we wandered round the even more elaborate rooms of this hotel before checking out the gift shop on the way out. I don’t think I would be able to stay in either hotel as it was just SO cold. Even if they provide you with thermals and super warm sleeping bags.

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All in all it was a great experience to visit for the day and then leave to sleep in a warm bed. I would have loved to have been able to see it lit up at night as I imagine the ice looks incredible.

On our way back to the hotel before our evening excursion we stopped off at a now familiar site – the Kiruna Church! This time it was open so we could peek inside and it was so worth it. The interior reminded me very much of the inside of a great ship. Made of wood and smelling of mahogany. Filled with pews and reaching high into the sky it was a beautiful site. It would have been lovely to have spent some peaceful time in there.

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But, that was not to be as the spa was calling us! As it was after all a holiday we took a couple of hours to switch off, detox in a few saunas and relaxed in a hot pool outside under the stars. It was a good spa, as spas go, but would have been better had the Northern Lights made an appearance.

After a couple of hours of relaxation we got ready for a Sami Reindeer experience. We drove back past the Ice Hotel to Nutti Sámi Siida to meet Nills and his reindeer. Nills is a Sami and lives a traditional life looking after reindeer and roaming all over the northern parts of Scandinavia.

He gave a us a small talk on the reindeer before we were let loose in the pen WITH THE REINDEER! As someone who is not found of large animals this was a bit daunting for me. Especially with the rest of the family running around with moss in their hands waiting for reindeer to eat it. I was charged with the camera hence the rather shaky and nervous pictures.

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After 10 minutes I was ready to get out of the pen. The reindeer were lovely creatures I just would have preferred to stay on the other side of the fence even if everyone else was at one with nature!

Nills then treated us to a Q&A session inside a traditional Sami tent with a fire sat on reindeer skins on the floor. It was very interesting and we learnt a lot about the Sami culture and why they live the way they do but by this point I was hungry. Luckily next up was dinner in a larger Sami tent. We had a dinner of reindeer meat and potatoes which was rather yummy. At this point in the trip my Mother-in-law’s phone had been confiscated so she couldn’t play Pokemon at the table, while my Father-in-law was taking selfies. Roll reversal much!

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Trust me to get one with his eyes closed. #fail

After yet another Northern Lights slideshow we were ready to head home. Most of us got on the bus while a small group waited for the keys for the outside toilet when all of a sudden everyone started running and Nills was shouting that the lights were out. We didn’t think much of it so slowly got off the bus and headed off in his direction before seeing the lights dancing in the sky! THE NORTHERN LIGHTS people!!!

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Stuart hadn’t thought to pick up his camera on the way out although I grabbed the tripod so there was a bit of backwards and forwards before we managed to get the camera setup. The sky was beautiful and green but the pictures accentuate the greenness so you are seeing much more with the lens then your eyes do.

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It was pretty magical and I was so thrilled to have eventually seen them. It made the disappointment of not seeing them in Iceland disappear in an instant. Thank goodness the toilets were locked eh!

Have you ever been in the right place at the right time for something amazing?


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