It was refreshing to land in Kiruna, 200 km north of Arctic Circle. Temperatures were just over freezing point and still snow covering the environment. I was there to run a workshop in place branding for municipalities in Norrbotten, the northern most part of Sweden.
Lapland has been a dream destination for me since I was a kid, so I knew an extra day would never be sufficient to do everything I wanted. So I decided just to do something silly.
I grabbed a rental car at Kiruna airport and headed towards a tiny little Sami village in Finland called Kilpisjärvi. As I rarely take the shortest or the easiest route, I decided to take the longer route through Narvik and the Norwegian fjords to Skibotn. An area that really feels like home to me, coming from the Westfjords of Iceland. Though I've been to Norway many times before, I had never been to the fjords in northern Norway and thought this was a splendid opportunity to get a glimpse of what the fjords had to offer.
I headed along road E10 to Narvik, through the beautiful mountain landscape of Bjorkliden, with the frozen Torneträsk lake on my right hand and the mountains with the picturesque railway between Kiruna and Narvik.
As I crossed the borders in a mountain pass I started to see glimpse of the fjords ahead. As you can see in the pictures below:
I arrived in Kilpisjärvi in Finland, about 6 km south of the Norwegian border just after ten o’clock. I thought. Turned out it was just after 11 o’clock as there is one hour time difference. I called the number provided on the door to the reception of Hotel Tundrea, and a girl came out to assist me. Despite my late arrival – and the fact that Finland has just lost the fight for the world championship in ice hockey a few minutes earlier she came out smiling and was very helpful.
The original plan had been to hike to the Three Borders Point, where Finland, Sweden and Norway meet, but that was impossible. Everything was covered with snow and the lake where they offer boat trips in the summer time was frozen. So there was only one option – cross country skiing. Now, I haven’t skied since I was 15, and only once tried cross-country skiing before, but what the heck, it can’t be that hard.
More on that tomorrow...