It finally happened – I went through and fixed up the good pictures from Christmas, and deleted the rest. I really should have done it before it was gramma time here at my apartment (my mom, my gramma marie and my gramma kathy all decided they were rich enough to come and spend a little over a week with me and Ben!) It was a really fun visit, but more on that later bc I finally am trying to post about mine and Ben’s first Christmas together in the North Pole!
Some of you have already heard this story, and if that’s the case then feel free to click on any of these pictures and it’ll link you directly to the slideshow I put up of all of our christmas pictures.
SO. First I have to point out one thing: I don’t have the best of luck when traveling. I mean, I always get wherever I’m going safely, so I can’t complain or anything. It’s just that I never get where I’m going when I plan on getting there. Something always happens that I end up having some weird delay (flashback to the time me and the boyfriend at the time decided to take a vacation to Maine, and I got so dehydrated that everyone thought I had OD’ed or the bird flu or something that they had to pull the plane off the runway after it had taxied off and call and ambulance and OH that was embarrassing.) This time the culprit was French-made trains.
You see, the long distance trains here in Sweden were getting a bit run down so they took a bunch of bids on companies that could build new trains, and this company in France were the lucky ones to build the new trains. The only problem is that while planning and building the trains the French didn’t take into account the extremely cold temperatures that the arctic experiences. As a result of this poor planning by some company whose bid clearly didn’t include fully functioning trains, trainloads of people get sort of abandoned by the SJ trains every year. This year it just so happened to us. On our first trip since moving here. In -30°C weather. OUCH. So here we are standing on a platform with 80 other people excitedly waiting for our transfer train in a little city in the middle of Sweden (Boden), 10 hours away from Stockholm on Christmas Eve, with no clear way of how we’re getting home. So instead of seeing HOORAY WINTER WONDERLAND and enjoying our Julbord (Swedish traditional Christmas buffet) we are looking at this:Hey, what’s happening everyone that’s supposed to be transferring trains with us!?!) I don’t have a picture of it, but there were a bunch of kids (aka people younger than me) taking pictures of their frozen nose hair. Eventually some woman managed to find out on her cell phone that our train had been cancelled. We all thought she was joking until two guys that appeared to work for the train company told us that they didn’t know where the train was, “it should be here, you all better go inside while we figure out what’s going on.” We did that. And in the meantime those two men disappeared and no one else was working since it was Christmas Eve and that left about 80 of us standing around in this lobby area trying to figure out what’s happening. Within about 10 minutes or so some guy popped in the lobby and spouted a bunch of stuff in Swedish and half the people picked up their crap and started booking it outside, leaving the rest of us (Ben and I, a couple Germans, and a whole bunch of Asians that were heading up north for a skiing trip) standing around trying to figure out what’s happening. Long story short, a bus came – it filled up and even though our crap was loaded on we got kicked off the bus – cabs were called and paid for by the train company and we made friends with the Germans. We shared some chocolate and they gave us some dense bread they made in case we didn’t get to leave the lobby in time to make it to our hotel 7 hours away for our Christmas dinner. Ben was convinced it was a big fat social experiment.
Eventually our cab came, the last one duhhhh, and we continued our trip with these two nice men (the cab driver, and this other guy from the train that was trying to go to Narvik – who was incidentally from Cali!) After almost 8 hours in the cab we made it to the hotel with a half hour left on the buffet, and the hotel made sure they left it all up until we were done.
Before we left the night before (since our train was an overnight train), Ben had a really great idea that we fast until Christmas dinner, because it was supposed to be a really fancy and delicious ordeal, and we were supposed to be there at like 5pm so it wasn’t going to be a big deal, but by the time we got there it was almost 10pm and BOY were we famished. Anyhow, I feel like we regretted deciding to fast at the time, but looking back on it dinner was so delicious that it was worth it.
On our way out of dinner the receptionist of the hotel told us that our cab driver and the man going to Narvik were on their way back because the border to Norway was closed. That’s right, America! Norway CLOSES for Christmas! So the hotel saved two plates for the guys so they could have some Christmas dinner too, which was really nice of them. We saw them the next morning after breakfast and hung out with them for awhile before they took off for Norway, round 2! I tried really hard to get the amazing mountains in the background, but it was too bright outside for the camera to pick it up. (That’s right, I said bright. I was under the impression that since we were so far up north we wouldn’t have ANY sunlight. That’s what the weather channel says. That’s what everything on the internet says. That’s what the sunrise/sunset charts that don’t chart any data bc they say there isn’t any to chart for that far up north during that time of year say.) It gets PRETTY BRIGHT though. The sun never ACTUALLY comes over the horizon. I’m not sure if it’s because there’s so many mountains or what, but we got really amazing sunrises and sunsets while we were there. At least, some really amazing colors in the sky during those times. And we got to see the moonrise every evening we were there while we were hiking.
Anyhow, if you want to see all the pictures you can go to THIS LINK and it’ll take you to a slideshow of all our pictures. I can’t use flickr anymore because I ran out of free space and I don’t feel like paying for it, so I’m using shutterfly and I can’t figure out how to caption the pictures yet, and I’m also not sure if it’s linked correctly so if anyone’s having problems with the pictures just let me know and I’ll try and fix it!
Val & Ben ♥
oh also we didn’t see any northern lights maybe next time!