Week 5 - Truckin’ Into Lapland.

Monday 7th July 2014.

One month and one day ago, the day before leaving UK, I learned that the mobile phone company Three was  selling sim only contracts that in some countries, including Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway attracted no roaming charges, after being a customer for over one month. Our roaming charges usually add about £30.00 a month to our phone package costs so £12.50 per month for a Three sim should save us the cost of at least three bottles of wine a month - result! The new number can be heard in the voicemail message on my old number and as the charges to make or receive calls and texts no longer applies on this trip feel free to call/text anytime.

IMG 2027

Did no more than a ride into Skelleftea today.Skelleftea is quite a large town with several large malls built around the town square, but like much of Sweden does not appear to have much of interest from an historical perspective. It does however have regular Ryanair flights from Stansted which the town hopes will increase tourism from UK. We booked, via the very helpful tourist office, a ride on “The Longest Ropeway In The World”. It’s not the longest now, but, from when it was built in 1942 until abandoned in1989, it was 98 km (61 miles) long and transported copper ore from mines to main transport points when roads were very poor and due to WW2 rubber for tyres and oil for petrol was difficult to obtain, now the ride is 13 km (8 miles). It took some time to book as an ex-Canadian lady hearing us talk English wanted to chat about her life in London (Canada) and how much she wanted to visit the original London in England.

Tuesday 8th July 2014.

IMG 2024

Laundry day today. The site we are on is, to our experience, unique in that you don’t pay to do a wash or a dry but you rent the laundry room for a three hour period and can do as much washing and drying as you want during that period.

Had to go back to the tourist office today, Looking at the ropeway web site it seems it is not a there and back ride but from one end to the other and a bus back to the start point. We hadn’t asked which end we were starting from, what’s that tag line again?

Wednesday 9th July 2014.

I hate being woken by an alarm clock, but we had to be up early today so we could breakfast and be ready to go by 10.30, don’t mock, that’s early for us, we are still unsure where we are going for the ropeway ride. It’s actually called The Norsjö Ropeway but is here often referred to as the Boliden Ropeway but the town of Boliden seems miles from where we “think” we should be and we want to be there early enough to move if we finish up at the wrong end.

IMG 2063

The wonders of modern technology (Garmin sat-nav) took us right to the doorstep although it wasn’t until we arrived and asked confirmation of another visitor that we were in fact sure of being at the right place. It still didn’t feel right as although there were some of the original buckets we could not see any cars or the cables leading away. Also the place was home to flies about the same size as a honeybee that loved to land on warm humans, fortunately after the initial onslaught they disappeared. We were relieved when we found a lady staff member who had our name on her list (Stephen) and had the correct lunch order - reindeer with potato salad. After watching a film, in English, we collected our packed lunch and joined a queue outside a large shed each group was allocated its own car and shown how to drop the table, to reveal a trip map and told how to use the emergency radio transmitter and at one o’cock we were, car by car, sent on our journey. The journey takes a little under two hours at 3m/sec (6.71 mph) and is a pleasant quite tranquil affair as we move slowly over forest, river and lake while chomping on delicious lunch. Almost as soon as it had begun the ride through the tree tops ended, it certainly did not seem like two hours.

With the town trying to increase UK tourism through Ryanair it was interesting that the staff at the Longest Ropeway said that we were the only English visitors this year and there was just one couple visited last year.

Thursday10th July 2014.

Moving day, another 300 odd kilometres north . A new site. A new country. We are now in Finland, our third country of the trip, the site is large and open, no need for a mover here. The camp site seemed really good until we visited the toilets - plain glass panels in every door, when I sit and relax, perhaps read a few pages it must be in private. Worse was to follow, the showers are single sex but communal, I don’t need to shower with chaps with young well defined muscles and big whatsits to remind me I’m an old codger with a big flabby belly.

I will use our own facilities while here and hope this is not the norm in Finland.

Friday 11th July 2014.

IMG 2071

One of our trip objectives was nearly completed today. The first objective of the trip is to take the caravan into the Arctic Circle, and although that will not happen until Sunday, today Sue and I went to Santa Claus village the official (according to the village) Lapland home of Santa Clause and built on latitude North 66 degrees 32 minutes and 35 seconds - The Arctic Circle. This is where, had you ever written to Father Christmas, the letter would have been sent and from where any answer penned. It does of course comprise mainly tourist souvenir shops but there is a large holiday village which although open all year comes alive in the run-up to Christmas when families from all over the world visit Father Christmas and his elves. Some elves were there helping with crowd control and the reindeer were also there but Father Christmas was on holiday, he has probably gone to the Costa Del Sol.

Saturday 12th July 2014.

Laundry day and our new tenant is due to move in today, so it’s the day we should stop shelling out and start getting something back from the house again - first time since mid January.

I forgot to mention earlier about the smell in the town of Harnosand. The smell of wood, it was a really pleasant fresh smell almost like perfume.

IMG 2069

It turns out that Finland restricts alcohol in shops in a similar manner to Sweden so, as we are close to the border, we went to the Finnish “Alko” store for some wine and the Systembolaget in Sweden for beer - all of which must now be carefully rationed until we are out of Norway.

Sunday 13th July 2014.

Objective number one achieved. We are now camped at Lat. 67 degrees 25 minutes 03 seconds well inside the Arctic Circle.

Just one thing of interest on a quite boring trip, at one point close to where we stopped for the night the road widened by three times and ran dead straight for about a kilometre and during that distance there were no signs, no street furniture no nothing. It was, we think, an emergency runway, but why it was built and is being maintained we have no idea.

Last updated Sunday 14th September 2014                                                                                              © S W Ghost 2014