Wednesday, 12 February 2014

The Northern Lights in Swedish Lapland. The Ice Hotel and Abisko. The Aurora Sky Station.

Today we drove from Kiruna to Jukkasjarvi, the Home of the World Famous Ice Hotel. There were visitors here from all parts of the globe.
The drive from Kiruna took about 15 mins and The Ice Hotel was easy to find. The Ice Hotel does tours for day visitors at 11.00, 12.00, 14.00 and 16.00. We did the midday one that was in English.
The entrance to The ICEHOTEL, Jukkasjarvi, Sweden.
The Icehotel is located on the banks of the River Torne, it is open all year. In the summer when the Icehotel melts the accommodation is in the 'warm rooms' or chalets that are on the same plot of land as the Icehotel.
A new Hotel is created each winter from the ice cut from the River Torne, so it is never the same, in fact each year a new hotel is created. This year the Icehotel has 64 rooms.
This year, 2013/14, there are 7 Snow rooms, they are plain rooms with a block of ice for a bed.
28 Ice rooms, these have furnishings made from ice and decorated walls.
10 Northern lights suites, the same as the Ice rooms but with lights mimicking the Aurora.
17 Art Suites, each one of these is an individual, beautifully carved room with imaginative lighting and incredible ice sculptures, furniture and a large ice bed setting a unique theme for each  room. And 2 deluxe suites ( you don't get to see these on the tour), they includes a private en-suite relaxation area with sauna, toilet and wash basin, as well as the use of a real Mini!
I liked the Art Suits best, but the temperature in the Icehotel was below-5 and it felt cold, I was glad I did not sleep in the hotel but just had a look around.

The Grand Hall, 'Secret garden', at  The ICEHOTEL, Jukkasjarvi, Sweden
Art Suite number 322, 'Mind the gap', The ICEHOTEL, Jukkasjarvi, Sweden

The bed in Art Suite number 322, 'Mind the gap', The ICEHOTEL, Jukkasjarvi, Sweden

Art suite number 321, 'Frozy flower',  The ICEHOTEL, Jukkasjarvi, Sweden

Art Suite number 320, 'Before the big bang', The ICEHOTEL, Jukkasjarvi, Sweden

Art Suite number 315, 'face in the crowd', The ICEHOTEL, Jukkasjarvi, Sweden

The Grand Hall, The ICEHOTEL, Jukkasjarvi, Sweden

The Grand Hall, The ICEHOTEL, Jukkasjarvi, Sweden

Art Suite number 346, 'UP There', The ICEHOTEL, Jukkasjarvi, Sweden

The warm rooms, The ICEHOTEL, Jukkasjarvi, Sweden

The long walk from the Hotel to the toilets!!!!, The ICEHOTEL, Jukkasjarvi, Sweden
This year the hotel is open from 6th Dec2013 to 22 April 2014, If you do stay the night in the hotel, very well done, a dink in the bar was just about my limit.
From the Icehotel we drove to Abisko. Abisko is about 90 KM from Kiruna, it is an easy drive on good roads......look out for Reindeers!
Reindeer crossing, Kiruna,  Sweden
Abisko National Park is billed as one of Europe's last wilderness, and it is very scenic. You can do this as a day visit from Kiruna as it is only 93KM, but we choose to stay 2 nights at the STF Turistation and this turned out to be a good choice.
I had booked direct through the web site and  we were allocated a double room in the main building with shower/ wc. The room was large with 2 windows giving a spectacular view over the lake, it was warm, clean and comfortable. We ate in the restaurant for the 2 nights we were there, both nights the 3 course meal was of a very high standard and delicious.

The wood fired sauna on the lake at Abisko.

Grounds of STF Mountain station, Abisko.

Hire car, Skoda.

Road from Abisko to Norway.

Abisko has a high per cent of clear nights and is therefore a good place to see the Northern Lights. A ski lift has been converted into the 'Aurora Sky Station', the combination of low light pollution and Abiskos location are said to give you the best possible conditions to witness the Aurora.
To get to the sky station you have to take the open chair lift. The ride is about 20 mins, depending on how many people get on and off, as it has to stop for them. You wear your normal ski wear, then are given Aurora Watcher overalls and boots to put on. The overalls are thick, like astronaut suites but do keep you warm.
Abisko Sky Station Overalls

layered up in Aurora Watcher Overalls at Abisko Sky Station, Sweden. 
The cable car ride to the top was slow, and it was busy on the top of the mountain, many people had tripods and were getting good photos of the lights. The Northern Lights were out for the whole time we were at the top of the mountain and the next night we saw them from the lake at the hotel.
Abisko. Sweden.