Thursday, June 24, 2010

Day 15 - Exit the Arctic Circle via Jokkmokk

At last the midnight sun ...

Before today really starts, I gotta put up the photo of the midnight sun .... taken just before 2:00am this morning.   Taking it into the sun was tricky especially with a camera that is gradually falling victim to the rigours of the expedition.  So I did the next best thing ... I photographed the sunshine on the nearby hill ... which also made it easier to include the watch showing 1:51 am.

We left Gallivare behind with a curious mixture of experiences ... the highlight was the Marita's homemade bread at brekkie ... the lowlight were the swarms of mozzies and midges last evening when we went for a walk ... and the curiousity was the array of beautifully maintained classic American cars cruising around what is a very small town (incl. Cadillac Eldorado, Pontiac Bonneville, Ford Thunderbird, Dodge Challenger, IROC Camaro, Mustang, etc).  I assumed that there was a meeting of aficionados until we threaded our way south through Sweden today ... more and more American cars, especially big ones like 50's and 60's Cadillacs, kept appearing out of side roads.

On another motoring theme, you ain't nobody in Sweden unless you have 3 monster spotlights across the front of your car.   Doesn't matter whether it's a Volvo or a Mercedes or a Yaris.   So for the Elise to fit into local custom, this is how it's going to look soon ....

Today's adventures ... well, emmm, errrr ....

Today turned out to be the transport day that we expected of yesterday.   Quiet roads, lots of woods, good weather ....  but not much else.   The only wildlife was a fox scarpering across the road in front of us.

Our detour to Jokkmokk was a bit of a fizz, and very, very quiet (more of why later) but we did get to see the Sami museum.   Sami are the people who have lived in Lappland for yonks, serious yonks.   They live in northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.

Finally, we reached the east coast of Sweden and our base for the night, Umea.   That's when we realised that there was something seriously amiss ... here is a photo of the main drag at 4:00pm as we checked into our hotel ... this on a summer Friday.  It was really eerie ....

The reason for all this eerie ghost-town atmosphere is that today and tomorrow are the midsummer holdiay in Sweden. Midsummer is a really big deal (lots of food, drink, dancing around a maypole at campsites and cottages etc), a bit like Thanksgiving in America, or Christmas in other places. So everything commercial is closed ... and I mean everything.  No restaurants, no bars, no beer, no wine.  Even McDonalds and the local Chinese takeaway were closed. 

Tomorrow promises to be the same, except that we'll be arriving in Stockholm, so we're hoping that a big city might still be awake, or at least have a place to buy a beer or a glass of wine.
As a consequence this evening's meal was a free hotdog provided by the hotel, a couple of yoghurts left over from 2 days ago, and a glass of wine that we could buy in the hotel.   Hardly epicure, but excellent for our pensioner budget.

Another long hot drive tomorrow ... but at least the roads will be quiet.   Karen is very excited about visiting Stockholm ... she's never been there, while I've been there a number of times on business.   And then it's Ribe in Western Denmark ... a city that's celebrating 1,300 years old ... and still has a town crier.

And finally, today's route ... unfortunately, it's not animated like the early ones ... the everytrail site is creating the map but will not complete step 2 which gives the animation and the html for embedding into the blog.

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Day 15 - Alps to Arctic

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