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Travel Diary of a Gypsy

...Holidayed in the Arctic Circle

SWEDEN | Thursday, 15 May 2014 | Views [237] | Scholarship Entry

The first time I seen the Northern Lights, I was 14, staring mesmerised from the study window of my home in Belfast, a rarity so far South… from that moment I was hooked.
Ten years later, when deciding where to go for the Easter break with my then boyfriend, we pulled out our bucket lists, and there at number one on my list lay ‘See the Aurora Borealis in Sweden’. The other half was easily convinced and began searching for tours. Eventually, we settled on cheap and cheerful Scanbalt tours and before we knew it, we were heading to Stockholm!
On a cool day in late March, we boarded our coach, excited for our adventure to begin… 18 hours after leaving Stockholm! Upon arriving at Sweden’s most Northern city, Kiruna, we took a quick tour of the pretty mining town before making our way to our hotel. As the rest of the tour slept at the hostel, we took the bus out to Jukkasjärvi, best known as the home of the Ice Hotel.
Surrounded by woods, fields and river, the Ice Hotel is an absolute wonder. Dragons, spaceships, even rain, all formed of snow and ice. The intricate craftsmanship involved in creating such a structure is inspiring. After such a long journey we were exhausted and so we settled down to sleep on an ice block with only a reindeer skin and sleeping bag for heat. I have never slept so well in my life!
The next day we re-joined the tour and found ourselves at the Abisko National Park Turiststation, on the edge of Torneträsk, the largest lake in Sweden. After taking in the bleak beauty of the landscape, we headed to a tee-pee set up as a bbq and look-out station for the Aurora Borealis. However, feeling a bit cold, I returned to the hostel to get an extra coat. As I made my way back through the woods, surrounded by spindly black trees and a thick blanket of snow, the Northern Lights lit up the sky. I stood alone for a moment longer before re-joining the group and watched as the lights I had seen as a child danced across the black sky.
The Scanbalt tour offered so many wonderful experiences on its Magical Lapland Tour and left me with plenty of fun memories. The magnificent spectacle that is the Northern Lights is an absolute wonder to behold and is just one experience of many to be had in one of the least populated parts of the world... Just be sure to remember your gloves!

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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