Friday, February 09, 2007

Return from the Arctic

Our last day in Jukkasjärvi but even with our plane scheduled after lunch I had plenty to do. I'm still working ahead planning my car trip through Europe with Bondi. Croatia has been a sticking point as I've been unable to confirm accommodation until I can confirm the ferry trip from Bari in Italy to Dubrovnik. Unfortunately all my attempts at booking through the Jadolinija Ferry service agents have fallen on deaf ears for a week or more. Ho hum.

Before breakfast I returned my overalls, boots, balaclava and mittens to the Luggage Room. Ice Hotel is perhaps remarkable in that its guests are the ones that wear uniforms and decorations (ice sculptures sitting on the railing outside reception).

Before crossing airport security at Arlanda airport last week I forgot about restrictions on liquids, and so had to chug down two bottles of liquid yoghurt I'd bought only minutes before. Today we had some leftover prawn paste (or "squeezy prawn" as Chris prefers) from our homemade sandwiches.We wondered if pumping the squeezy prawns between two slices of bread meant that it still counted as liquid for airport security purposes. Regardless, we probably couldn't take it on the plane, so Chris sucked half the leftovers out of the tube. I filmed a mini-documentary of his report on the experience - one of many experiences from this week I hope he'll load to YouTube and publish on his blog. (My record of his abseiling descent yesterday was particularly delightful.)

Another interesting semantic issue comes up with BA's announcement that you will have to pay £120 for each additional bag checked in on a long-haul flight (lower rates apply for shorter hauls). My friend Scott asked if you could just duct-tape several bags together. After all, as a mathematician or computer scientist would say, this is logically equivalent to those bags that unzip into multiple smaller bags.

We got to Kiruna airport with plenty of time to spare and then some. The SAS flight was delayed quite some time, and then we walked out onto the ice/snow-covered tarmac marvelling that we would be travelling anywhere.

Photos here show Kiruna from the air - I guess incorporating some of the workings of its famous iron mine. The 80 minute flight to Stockholm passed uneventfully. While picking up our luggage at Arlanda airport, Chris commented on the baggage carousel being out in the lobby next to the street where anyone could come in and grab them.

When we arrived last Friday I elected to take a taxi into town as it's a fixed fare of about 425SEK ( £31/USD$60/AUD$78) into town compared to 200SEK each for the express train to Central Station. The trade-off for 2 people is essentially based on time, the train being 20 minutes, and the taxi quite a bit longer.

The express train leaves from a platform below the airport, and while it is deliciously quick into town, the maps and guides tend to skim over how one gets onto the commuter network from it. I don't even think I've seen a transport map that connects the two. In the end it seemed faster for us to drag our bags towards Gamla Stan rather than decode directions towards the correct metro entrance.

St. George and the Dragon

We arrived at our hotel to find a note from Kenneth, a local contact referred by my Canadian friend David: "I hope you haven't frozen your bums off" and inviting us around for drinks. Finding him in his lovely apartment a short distance away we chatted for ages and then he took us out on a quick tour of the area, knowledgeably highlighting the historical and cultural ornamentation of Gamla Stan.

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