Spring is a magical time in the Arctic. The snow is melting, the rivers are beginning to flow, and everywhere is waking up from a chilly winter sleep. Off the Map Travel team member Alice was lucky enough to be in Sweden during May, for a tour which took her through many regions of Swedish Lapland, and she couldn’t wait to tell everyone about her experiences!
Packing for a trip to Sweden in May was an adventure in itself! I followed the weather reports all day, every day, in the hope that they might settle down and give me a clearer idea of whether to pack my snow boots or my flip flops… That reassurance never came, so I set off for the airport armed with a snow jacket, scarf, sunglasses and a swimsuit… Always be prepared!
When I stepped off the plane in Stockholm into 24 degrees and glorious sunshine, I realised the snow gear may have been a slight over-reaction, so I dropped my bag at my hotel room and headed straight out to explore the beautiful city of Stockholm. I wandered aimlessly through the cobbled streets of old town, under the blooming cherry blossoms, and stared out across the water as the setting sun cast a gorgeous orange glow over the city. I truly fell in love with Stockholm, and it is at the top of my list of cities to return to when I have a little more time!
The following morning I was back at Arlanda airport, where I caught my short onward flight to Kiruna. Here, I met up with the rest of the group on the tour, and we set off towards the ICEHOTEL. I visited the ICEHOTEL back in November, when the seasonal hotel was still in construction, and I was lucky enough to meet a couple of the artists who were working extremely hard on their contributions to the magical structure. This time, as I walked towards where the front door previously stood, proud and welcoming, I had to stop and take in the sight in front of me. Huge puddles lay around the floor around where the walls once were, and patches of the roof which still clung on were dripping loudly onto the stones. This is the beauty of the ICEHOTEL – the water which was frozen into the Torne River, harvested and turned into a mind-blowing work of art, was now being returned to where it’s journey began. True sustainability!
Never fear, the ICEHOTEL 365 came to the rescue! This brand new concept allows us all to enjoy the -5 degrees of our beloved ICEHOTEL all year round. There was something very very strange about clutching a cocktail from the Ice Bar, and stepping out into the sunshine outside. We stood sipping from our ice glasses, looking out over the crumbling ICEHOTEL and the melting Torne River, wondering whether to feel sad or inspired!
As my journey continued South through Swedish Lapland, every morning brought brand new excitement about how different this day would look compared to the last. Every day the colours were getting brighter, the rivers were filling and flowing faster, and the sound of flowing water followed us wherever we went. I was so excited to learn more about what adventures we could plan for what was quickly becoming my favourite season in the Arctic! The white water rapids were just calling out for a raft, and fishermen were rubbing their hands in anticipation of the end of ice fishing season! I imagined the hiking trails lined with blooming flowers, and the relaxing strolls along the river. My mind was blown at the concept of an al fresco lunch on a tiny island in the centre of what was a frozen lake, and even more by the sunburn I began to felt on my arms. Sunburn in the Arctic… who knew?!
There’s a common misconception that the Arctic is cold all of the time. I have to admit, I was very sceptical of it myself having focussed so much on snowy adventures and helping the winter wonderland dream come true. But it was so refreshing to be able to enjoy the beautiful rolling landscape of Sweden, without the overwhelming worry that my toes were freezing or my teeth were chattering. I fell in love with Swedish Lapland all over again, and I only had a tiny glimpse of a few Spring days. For those looking to escape to somewhere a little out of the ordinary, I urge you to visit the untouched Swedish wilderness, as it’s begging to be explored, and I firmly believe that Spring, Summer and Autumn may be the perfect times of an Off the Map Arctic adventure!
If you like the sound of Alice’s trip, and you’d like to experience the changing seasons for yourself, get in touch and let the team help you plan your next adventure!