This week’s Best Adventure Yet is about an adventure I would love to have: Staying in an Ice Hotel in the Arctic Circle! I did love driving through southern Sweden, but this seems like another world! Enjoy Kelly’s story.
Believe it or not, my best adventure ever wasn’t even planned. I mean yeah , I wanted to stay in the largest Ice Hotel in the world, in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, but it didn’t seem like it was going to happen. By the time I got my act together and actually tried to make a reservation, all the rooms were already taken.
I was totally bummed out by this but, as I scrolled through the website, I realized that the hotel offered tours of the complex to the general public. So “Ok, ” I thought, ” problem solved. I’ll book a hotel in Kiruna and make a visit to the Ice Hotel into a day trip.”
So once in Sweden, I made my way to Stockholm Central station to board the night train, on the Arctic Circle line, that would take me North to Kiruna. Well the train happened to be delayed for over an hour. Naturally, I got bored and cold waiting around outside so I plucked up the courage to start chatting with a fellow solo female traveler named Danielle. She was so outgoing, and friendly that by the time the train arrived, we were kind of bummed that we had to part ways. But before we did, Danielle informed me that she had a room at the ice hotel and wanted me to stay with her. I instantaneously nodded yes since how many times in your life will you get to stay at an Ice Hotel?
Now, apart from the Ice, I thought it would be just like any other hotel right? Wrong! Not only is each room uniquely carved into a series of ice sculptures but there is also an ice bar where you can get actually drinks served in ice glasses. Plus, the entire hotel overlooks a majestic frozen river where tons of dog sleds wait for you to take a ride.
The only mildly annoying part of the experience is that because the rooms are so cold, your luggage needs to be stored in a communal locker room with private storage areas, warm showers, and even a sauna. This annoyed me until I set foot in my room and realized how freaking freezing it was. No way did I want to spend any more time in there than I absolutely had to.
But don’t worry too much about the cold because they don’t just let you walk in there with your street clothes. Rather, you attend a thirty minute, mandatory orientation about the proper use of the sleeping bag and liner that they give you to help keep you warm while you hunker down for the night of your life.
Now even though the ice hotel Kiruna is an experience in and of itself, there are also an insane number of activities that you can participate in, like a trip to the Sami cultural museum. Here, there are a series of outdoor, Sami cultural exhibits as well as a pen where you can feed the reindeer some lichen. Just, let yourself in their pen and watch the magic happen. They frantically swarm you as you ineffectively guard your coveted lichen stash. Not going to lie, this was seriously my favorite part. I got to pet and feed some reindeer, like in the virtual North Pole. How cool is that? This was an epic memory that I will cherish forever.
I also loved dog sledding though. It really felt like you were being transported into an entirely new world as you rushed across the ice on a sled that magically recaptures the spirit of eras gone by. It just felt so peaceful and so far from my insanely busy life. On the ice, and with those dogs, my problems seemed to just melt away and I felt a sense of serenity in nature that is hard to come by.
But no trip to the ice hotel would be complete without seeing the Northern lights. I mean if you have come this far, you have to see this natural phenomenon that consists of majestic colors dancing across the Arctic sky (Insert ohs and ahs from the audience here). Unfortunately, you can’t see them when its cloudy, so check the weather before you go and try and pick a nice clear day to photograph this pure and natural awesomeness.
The result? This way my best adventure yet and I am so glad that I did it. Yes, I was terrified that I would freeze to death during the night. But to my surprise, the liner and sleeping bag kept me warm enough to get a good night’s sleep. I really only needed to wear about a layer or two of clothing. It was also nice that the hotel was wired for electricity so that you could see where you were walking at night.
And as an added bonus, the staff serve you warm Loganberry juice to your room in the morning so that you can warm up and wake up at the same time. Such a personal touch that made me feel so welcome in a totally frigid place.
Kelly Duhigg currently lives in New York, where she nannies full time. Every free moment she gets is devoted to travel and inspiring others to follow their own travel dreams, regardless of financial circumstance. In the future, she hopes to relocate and teach English as a second language. You can read all about her adventures on Girl with the Passport or on Facebook.
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