Lappi 2015. III. Ylläs Slopes

Reindeer herd near Ylläs Ski Resort parking lot, Kolari Municipality, Lapland Region, Finland

So, after finding a hiking trail in Äkäslompolo, I soon reached a crossroads with some pointers:

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Lappi 2015. II. Around Äkäslompolo

“Lost in Lapland” cabin at Niestatie street, Äkäslompolo, Kolari Municipality, Lapland Region, Finland

So what does a Lapland ski resort cabin look like? I must say I was extremely impressed. This is the best accomodation I’ve ever had. It is an actual home where a person or two could live indefinitely long. (There are of course also more traditional hotels at Äkäslompolo, and there are larger cabins which accomodate more people. Mine was on the smaller side.)

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Lappi 2015. I. The Drive: A-181, 62, 6, 62, 434, 5, 88, 4, 29, 21 and 940

Rest area at National Road 21 (“Northern Lights Road”) at Ylitornio Municipality, Lapland Region, Finland

This is going to be one huge post, so get ready!

So I decided to go to Äkäslompolo, Lapland. First, I packed my stuff. Сamera, laptop, clothes — that’s all obvious. I didn’t need many warm clothes, as forecasts promised about +8°C throughout the entire week, but still took some (and a pair of warm boots) just in case. Less obviously, I took some bed linen; my cabin, like cabins at camping sites, provided this only at an additional fee. And finally, I went to a supermarket and bought a huge bag of cheap microwavable food.

Honestly I hate eating out on my trips. I mean, tasting some local food once or twice is fine, and even I have to admin that an all-you-can-eat buffet on Baltic ferries is the most fun part of the passage, but otherwise, it’s just way too costly. On our Swedish trip we ate at restaurants daily, usually twice, and ended out spending a fortune on restaurants alone, more than on accomodation or gas. And it wasn’t even particularly fancy food, too! So, this time, while I had some money to spare, I decided to avoid restaurants completely or nearly completely, and just eat some microwavable burgers, potato chips, instant noodles and mashed potatoes, bologna sandwiches, and so on. I bought as much of this as possible in a Russian supermarket, and brought some beer and wine with me as well. This worked splendidly. I lived on this diet for years before my girlfriend moved in with me, anyway.

Then, I plotted my route. This wasn’t very difficult. Both Google Maps and TomTom navigator on my phone agreed that this had to be the shortest route:

I decided to go along with it. As you can see, predicted travel time was 13.5 hours. That figure didn’t include border crossing and other stops; actual time was going to be even longer. Nonetheless, I intended to drive all of it in one go. My previous record was about 800 km (Stockholm to Flåm, Norway), and by the end of it I felt like I was going to die. Still, I had some practice over the last summer, and I believed I could make it. (Spoiler Alert: I was right.)

I hate driving in the countryside after dark, mostly because I’m still very much afraid of hitting a moose; and that far north, hitting a reindeer is also a very real possibility. Still, it looked like there was no way to avoid it. Days already got significantly shorter since summer, and I expected they would be even shorter in the north. Surprisingly they were not, at least not appreciably so. Most of Lapland is located beyond the Arctic Circle, and the place gets some midnight sun in summer and polar night in winter, but in September day and night cycle is very ordinary.

So I got up at 3 AM, took a shower, had some tea, and went down to my car. I had some meat pasties to eat, and three cans of energy drinks to keep me from getting drowsy. I also brought a piece of paper and a pen, having decided to write down current time and distance travelled at every stop I make.

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Lappi 2015

In September 2015, I was about to take the last week of my vacation time in 2015. My girlfriend was away in Cyprus, and no one else was coming along with me, so, pretty much for the first time in my life, I had freedom, time, and budget to plan a great solitary trip for myself. (I’m excluding some hitchhiking adventures many years ago of course.)

I had several destinations in mind. Some secluded corner of Norway certainly sounded like a nice idea. Or some Finnish island. Archipelago Sea? Or some islands in the Gulf of Bothnia? Or maybe not even an island but just a random cabin in the middle of Finnish nowhere? So many options.

In the end, the matter was decided when I found some inexpensive accomodation I liked. It was one of the Lost in Lapland cabins (direct link to their website), in a village named Äkäslompolo, in Finnish Lapland, next to Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park. They offered a nice-looking cabin, named Kelostar, at a particularly reasonable price. I booked it (note: payment is possible only with a direct bank transfer — took me some time to figure out how to make a transfer from Russia to Finland), and started reading up about Lapland.

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Sweden 2015. XIV: Uppsala and the drive home

Uppsala Cathedral, Uppsala, Uppsala län, Sweden

This is the last part of the series about our Swedish journey, but we actually had three days remaining till the end of our vacation. This wasn’t really a lot though. Driving from Smögen Camping to Uppsala (475 km) took up most of the first of these three days in particular.

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Sweden 2015. XIII: Bohuslän: Lysekil

Catching a crab in Lysekil, Västra Götaland län, Sweden

Lysekil is another small sea town in Bohuslän, much larger than Smögen (pop. 7,600), but still pretty tiny. It is located in about 50 km from Smögen, so we chose it as our destination for the next day. Turned out it is pretty similar to Smögen anyway.

Our second night at Smögen Camping was not as peaceful as the first one. First, some young guys sat around with beer and a boombox pretty much right by our window. They actually turned out to be pretty nice. At 10 pm sharp they got up, collected all their trash, and some of them went to bed while others drove away in a taxi with “Gothenburg” written on it. That’s a long drive from Gothenburg, mind you. Thus, our opinion of Swedish youth improved a lot, but then in the middle of the night a few drunk girls barged into our block, and kept making a lot of noise, talking and showering, for quite some time. Anyway we still had a nice enough sleep.

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Sweden 2015. XII: Bohuslän: Smögen

Evening views from Smögen Bridge, Smögen, Sotenäs municipality, Västra Götaland län, Sweden

The southwestern coast of Sweden, from the city of Gothenburg up to the Norwegian border, is known as Bohuslän, after the castle of Bohus in Kungälv, 20 km north of Gothenburg. Up until 1658 Bohuslän used to be a Norwegian land, protected against Sweden by Bohus. Sweden secured Bohuslän in the Treaty of Roskilde, along with Scania and other territories, and since then Bohuslän has been Swedish.

Bohuslän (formally a part of Västra Götaland län, same as Gothenburg) has no major cities. It has always been noted for fishing; unlike the rest of Sweden, it is washed by Skagerrak Strait, a part of the North Sea, which has much more lively and varied sea life than the Baltic Sea, with crabs and lobsters and the like. There is a large rocky archipelago along Bohuslän coast, a maze of skerry islets. Bohuslän also used to have great forests, but these were cut down for shipbuilding long ago, and never recovered.

Modern Bohuslän is pretty much a great summer resort. One of its better known towns is Smögen, located on an island off shore and known for its fish auction. We stopped at Smögen Camping, in the town of Kungshamn right next to Smögen, and spent a full day exploring Smögen on foot.

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Sweden 2015. XI: Carlsberg, Malmö, and the drive to Bohuslän

Channels in central Malmö, Skåne län, Sweden

The next day of our journey, after a big walk and a boat tour around Copenhagen, we still had one thing left to do here: visit the Visit Carlsberg center. It is a museum/tourist shop at the old Carlsberg breweries. We didn’t have much time for the museum, but we wanted to pick some authentic beers as gifts.

So we walked from the hotel to Visit Carlsberg, again, not bothering with any public transport. This might not have been the best idea, actually, as it’s a long walk and we were lugging our suitcases behind us again. Visit Carlsberg is located on the street named Gamle Carlsberg Vej (Dan. Old Carsberg Road), in a part of the city named Valby. We walked there mostly along the big Vesterbrogade street, through nice but not particularly noteworthy neighboorhoods.

Carlsberg actually is pretty huge. It’s one of the biggest brewing companies in the world. Apart from Carlsberg itself, they own Tuborg, Kronenbourg, and Somersby brands, and in Russia in particular, they own Baltika Brewery, which has 38% market share in Russia. I’m not sure if the original brewery at Valby still actually produces anything of significance, but anyway, it is also pretty large, taking up several city blocks, with streets with names like Pasteursvej.

Fun fact: when Niels Bohr, a great Danish physicist, won the Nobel Prize in 1922, Carlsberg gave him a gift: a house right next to the brewery, with a free direct beer tap.

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Sweden (actually Denmark) 2015. X: Copenhagen (Part 2)

Nyhavn Channel, Copenhagen, Denmark

Continuing from where we stopped, on a boat tour in Copenhagen.

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