The Fjords of Norway

The Fjords of Norway

I have been on the road now for a year. The Fjords of Norway together with the Himalayas take the cake. The amazing colour plays of the northern light in November is pure magic and send me into photographic bliss.

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Abisko – Sweden to Narvik – Norway

Abisko – Sweden to Narvik – Norway

Abisko is very small. Only a hand full of houses next to a beautiful massive lake. The skies stayed clear but unfortunately we had no Northern Lights 🙁 That was a real shame. Anna was so hoping we would see some since she missed out on the lights in Kiruna. But it wasn’t meant to be. I am sure there will be other times. We are still here for another week or so.

The train trip to Narvik was amazing. Again, incredible light giving me photographs that look more like paintings!!! See below….

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Train Ride Kiruna to Abisko – Winter Wonderland

Train Ride Kiruna to Abisko – Winter Wonderland

Woke up this morning to a beautiful clear day!!! All the clouds are gone and it snowed a ton last night. Very very excited. If it’s clear like this in Abisko we should be able to see the Northern Lights. The train trip was absolutely magical, I just love snowy winter landscapes. The colours are amazing up here in Sweden. The sun hardly makes it over the horizon anymore.. so you get this long drawn sunrise going over into a long drawn sunset. The sky is always pastel baby blues and pinks reflecting off the white snow. Just Awesome!! See below…

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Kiruna – Chasing the Northern Lights

Kiruna – Chasing the Northern Lights

Arrived in Kiruna just as it was getting dark. Of course the bus doesn’t run this time of year from the airport to town. Luckily I was able to split a cab with a girl who flew in from London, just for the night, to see the Northern Lights.

L1003822Kiruna is a cute little town. Even though it’s a mining town and the huge massive open part of the mine is in plain view. Interesting, the mining company plans to move about half the town over to one side so they can reach further deposits. See the red line in the  picture? Anything above the line will be moved in stage one. The rest of the town will be moved in a stage 2. Damn that original town planner!!

Imagine, moving half a town!!!.. as in.. deconstructing and reconstructing the Church, Town Hall and other important buildings!!!! Then compensating everyone else they need to tear down. Talking with the locals though, the community seems to be ok with it. Since their jobs depend on it.

So here I met Anna from Catalonia. Also here to see the Northern Lights. Talking to the guy at the hostel, he tells me the best place is right up the top of a Ski Slope!!!!.. so, of course, eager as I am I grab Anna and two Swedish girls staying there also and up we march / crawl / slide.. in the middle of the night at -5C. Since nature was not our friend that night it started to cloud over as soon as we started our climb. By the time we reached the top the sky was completely covered. Luckily the view of the town and being close to my first snow gun compensated somewhat. Just thinking of the poor girl I split the cab with. She came all the way from London for one night!!

The next day was no better but on the third night…presto!!!!… yum yum…my very first sighting of Northern Lights.

Tomorrow I take a train to Abisko, a very small town next to a lake where I’ll meet up with Anna again. BTW we decided to go all the way up to the North Kap together by train and bus, then get a ferry / boat back.L1003774

No Northern Lights but the climb was still worth the view. What looks like a giant cruise ship in the background is the massive mine towering over the city.

No Northern Lights but the climb was still worth the view. What looks like a giant cruise ship in the background is the massive mine towering over the city.

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U go grandma!!

U go grandma!!

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Stockholm – Monumental & to much mashed potato!

Stockholm – Monumental & to much mashed potato!

So I spent 4 days exploring Stockholm. My first time in Sweden and it was great! Stockholm is packed with amazing monumental architecture and full of museums, theatres, galleries and restaurants.

I can see why Stockholm is considered one of the design & style capitals of the world. The people are impeccably dressed and groomed. With their thick rimmed glasses and predominantly black outfits. It’s all quiet conservative and anything but bland. Walking the streets in Södermalm are smothered with Architects, Product Designers, Interior Designers, Web Designers and any other kind of designer. Their studio windows proudly uncovered, in the strange Scandinavian way, wide open so you can look inside.

About that!!!.. I noticed this also in Helsinki and in Amsterdam. The northerners have a habit of not using curtains. It’s insane how many everyday live scenes you see in peoples living rooms, kitchens, even bedrooms!!! They don’t seem to have the same sense of privacy as many other nations. Perhaps that is because there is so little light. Or because they hang out naked together in saunas all the time anyway!!!

For example.. and this was a little strange. The hostel I was staying, Mosebacke Hostel (click for review) had communal showers … with …. no curtains of course! As I walk in a naked young Swede who just finished his shower and was getting dressed strikes up a conversation with me… as I got undressed and start having my shower. So here we are him dressed me naked having a shower and chit chatting!!!.. I am no prude but when it came to soap up my private parts I would have preferred some privacy. But he didn’t seem to care much (btw he had a girlfriend so it wasn’t about that 😉

So unfortunately I didn’t make it to the ABBA museum like I had planned. But i did make it to the Royal Palace, the famous City Hall where the Nobel Prize is awarded and I checked out the Wasa!!!.. the only 1600 something.. Viking battle ship still in existence. Very very cool.

On the food front I discovered some strange combinations. Reindeer Pizza with cranberries (not bad).. and a Chorrizo sausage with mashed potato, mayo and mustard rolled up like a kebab in flat bread!!???.. now that was weird! All in all thought the Swedes cook good.. I look forward to having a Reindeer goulash or something like that..

So to sum up Stockholm.. Monumental, stylish, cultured, friendly and expensive and busy. Even in November which is no tourist season every restaurant and pub was packed! Worth a visit? Absolutely!!

Now it’s off to Kiruna at the most Northern tip of Sweden to hopefully catch the Northern Lights, do some cross country skiing and maybe some dog sledding! Yeah… BRING IT ON!!

So I should have checked around a bit more before getting the Train as I arrived in Stockholm. There is a standard government train at less than half the cost of the Express train at 125 Crowns! Oh well, live and learn.

Arriving and checking in at Arlanda airport was a dream. The first place that has compete automated check in AND bag drop!!!! Love it. Swipe the card you booked with and out comes your boarding pass AND your luggage sticker. Put it on, go tot he counter, scan the barcode and watch it disappear. Brilliant!

Sow I sit here with Free Internet and guess what!! FREE INTERNET ON THE FLIGHT!!!! I AM IN DIGITAL NOMAD HEAVEN. All other airlines tell us our electronics will mess up the flight instruments, I always thought that was a lot of crap!!!! Now we have it.. I will be face booking FROM the PLANE!!!!!

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City Hall, yes that is all real gold leaves fused into glass mosaics. Stunning to be there.

City Hall, yes that is all real gold leaf fused into glass mosaics. Stunning to be there.

The artist was criticised for making the Protector of Sweden too.. masculine and ugly! I rather like her :)

The artist was criticised for making the Protector of Sweden too.. masculine and ugly! I rather like her 🙂

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City Hall - This is where the Nobel Price celebration dinner is held. It's called the blue room. Even though it is, uhm, not blue.. the Architect changed is mind and didn't paint it! But the name was already established. Confuzzing!

City Hall – This is where the Nobel Price celebration dinner is held. It’s called the blue room. Even though it is, uhm, not blue.. the Architect changed is mind and didn’t paint it! But the name was already established. Confuzzing!

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The light contrasts are just awesome up north.

The light contrasts are just awesome up north.

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Stylish Stockholmians doing Stockholmian things.

Stylish Stockholmians doing Stockholmian things.

Swedes love to eat well. This market hall was packed with all kinds of delicacies.. fancy half a suckling pig?

Swedes love to eat well. This market hall was packed with all kinds of delicacies.. fancy half a suckling pig?

Vasa (or Wasa) is a Swedish warship built 1626–1628. The ship foundered and sank after sailing about 1,300 m into her maiden voyage. How pissed off would you be???

Vasa (or Wasa) is a Swedish warship built 1626–1628. The ship foundered and sank after sailing about 1,300 m into her maiden voyage. How pissed off would you be???

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The Old Town on it's very own island. Very cute and old.

The Old Town on it’s very own island. Very cute and old.

In a place with long winters and long nights mood lighting sometimes feels close to a fetish!

In a place with long winters and long nights mood lighting sometimes feels close to a fetish!

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Switzerland

Switzerland

Wow! Switzerland was a real culture shock for me after 6 months dusty dirty Nepal and India. I don’t think you can get much more of a contrast between Kathmandu and Zurich!!! It’s good to be in a western culture again. Even though I feel a little timid speaking German after not being in a German speaking country for 10 years! It feels strange.

Zurich is rich. Luxury cars everywhere, well dressed sophisticated people and prices that have me in a mild panic!!! If all of Europe is like this I can leave after 4 weeks back to Asia!! My hotel room was $170AUD a night.. Dinner starts at $25AUD, nothing really below that. My 4 days in Zurich cost me $800AUD, that would last me a month in India.

But I’m not complaining. Enjoying the cleanliness, language, lake, architecture, the long European summer evenings, the temperamental skies.. loving it! Love Europe! (photo above is Bern, Switzerland)

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Transit lounge Kathmandu airport. A very young crowd.

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The corridor of my hotel. So so… so…. EUROPEAN!

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The moody European Skies… how I have missed them! Light is special here. Very different to Australia or Asia.

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My hotel room. It’s like living in a picture!

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The irony! No upset stomach for six month!!! of travelling India and Nepal. I arrive in Switzerland and have this nasty nasty sausage!! After a mainly vegetarian diet for so long my system shut down! Sick for 2 days!

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Zurich Lake. So quaint!

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Yes we are in Switzerland! Things must be kept CLEAN!!!!

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Beautiful Bern.

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A German tradition.. Kaffee und Kuchen in the afternoon with Chris and Sigi!!! Yum Yum

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Swiss don’t just make clocks! They reinvented the bed sheet also! Smart though. No banging heads on the ground for little critters in Switzerland!

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Clean and Save!!! Every house needs a nuclear bunker or a contract for access to a neighbours nuclear bunker! No JOKE!

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I spent 4 days in Zurich and a week in Bern with my deal old friend Sigrid. Then we jumped into her car for a good ole road trip to Italy.

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