Author Archives: erin

Take a 360-degree train ride to the mountains and fjords of Norway at home

2017-02-20

Traveling in western and northern regions of Norway is a dream come true for everyone who admires dramatic sceneries. The downside is that it takes more time than most sightseeing trips because of those majestic landscapes. Yet, it is possible to choose road travel, sea cruises or even train journey (in some parts of the country). The Flåm railroad in western Norway is probably the most popular section for train travelers. Now, you can watch how a train ride along the famous Flåm railroad looks like.

Flåm, the end station of the railtrack, is a village at the bottom of a fjord. The track starts from Myrdal, a station on the mountains that is connected to Oslo and Bergen via railroad. The 20 kilometer journey from Myrdal to Flåm is considered the steepest railtrack for passenger trains (with the most spectacular sceneries along the way) in the world.

The Flåm railroad company has recorded a 44 minute film of the whole journey in 360 degree video format. You can view the video below, and change the viewing angle as you wish.

A good question is why capture a train ride in a 360-degree video? The camera that has recorded the journey was attached at the front of the train. It doesn’t make sense to rotate the image and watch back because all you can see is the train’s front window. Look down, and you see the railroad track. Probably a better result could have been achieved with an ordinary weatherproof camera. Perhaps the experience on a virtual reality device is better than on a computer. Nonethless, the journey itself is impressive, and definitely one that we will have add to our bucket list.

We can recommend another magnificent train ride that starts from Norway and ends in Sweden. Originally, the railroad track between Narvik, Norway and Kiruna, Sweden was constructed for transporting mining produce, but nowadays it is a popular way to access some of the best sceneries, hiking trails and skiing tracks in Swedish and Norwegian Lapland.

A major road that connects not only two Nordic countries, but places like Abisko and other national parks to the rest of the world follows the railroad track. Here is a video captured during road trips between Narvik and Kiruna.

Scenic road and railroad from Narvik, Norway to Kiruna, Sweden from Klaava on Vimeo.

More spectacular Arctic landscapes and useful information on
traveling in Lapland is available in this travel guidebook.

Even without daylight, mysterious lights glow in Lapland in winter

2016-12-23

The daylight period is short or even non-existent in Lapland during the weeks before and after the solstice, but it doesn’t mean that it is completely dark in winter in the Europe’s northernmost corner. Snow covers the ground in the whole region, efficiently reflecting every beam of light the stars, the moon and other sources emit. Other sources? Yes, the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) can transform the whole sky into an exciting lightshow in Lapland. Let’s take a look at a photo gallery that shows this phenomenon.

Northern Lights. Copyright Visit Rovaniemi/Rovaniemi Tourism & Marketing Ltd
The Northern Lights in Rovaniemi (Photo Copyright Visit Rovaniemi/Rovaniemi Tourism & Marketing Ltd).The Northern Lights in Rovaniemi (Photo Copyright Visit Rovaniemi/Rovaniemi Tourism & Marketing Ltd)

The Northern Lights in Kakslauttanen  (Photo: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort).The Northern Lights in Kakslauttanen (Photo: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort).
NorthernLights, through a glass ceiling. Photo: Kakslauttanen Arctic ResortThe most comfortable position to view the Northern Lights in Kakslauttanen (Photo: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort).

Read more about the Northern Lights in this article that also features tips for photographers. A travel guidebook to Lapland is available here.

The most likely places to see the Northern Lights are north of the Arctic Circle. In fact, the light shows are frequent in the north, it is just the weather conditions (clouds) or summer (too much sunlight even in night) that may prevent viewing the lights. It is possible to see the Northern Lights south of the Arctic Circle as well, but the chances are much lower than in the north.

So, where do you travel in order to be inside the Arctic Circle? In Europe, the destination is Lapland. Here is a map where you can see the Arctic Circle. You can also spot the photo locations on the map: Rovaniemi in Finland right on the Arctic Circle, and Kakslauttanen about 250 km / 155 miles north of Rovaniemi (via road).

Map: Lapland, Arctic Circle, Sami region

The Icehotel in Swedish Lapland to stay frozen and open for guests around the year

2016-12-12

During winter, there is an abundance of raw material available in Lapland if you want to build a hotel using blocks of ice, or a castle from blocks of snow. In fact, an icehotel has been operating in Swedish Lapland in the tiny village of Jukkasjärvi near Kiruna for many years, and a huge snowcastle is built every winter in the city of Kemi in Finland. Both are commercial establishments that accommodate guests in hotel rooms and serve visitors in restaurants inside the arctic buildings. Now, the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi has announced a plan to keep the building in ice around the year, and open for guests.

Icehotel, Jukkasjarvi, Kiruna, Sweden, Lapland

Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi in Swedish Lapland.

Even though Lapland is not a tropical paradise during the summer, temperatures rise to +25 C / 77 F in July and August. Not to mention that the sun doesn’t set at all in Lapland during late May, June and July. It won’t be an easy task to keep a large building made of ice intact and safe during the months when temperatures are above freezing point.

Architectural Digest reports that the Icehotel management is going to use solar power to keep the frozen structures in -5 C / 23 F through the summer months. The solar power will be used to keep the walls and structures inside the hotel cool, because the outmost walls will be constructed from concrete. Pretty smart: since the sun is up all the time during the Nordic summer, why not suck its energy and keep things cool with it.

ice blocks for icehotel

Big blocks of ice for the construction of Icehotel.

Klaava Media’s travel author (who is writing a book about Lapland) visited the Icehotel in spring 2016, and only ice was used for the building at that time. She had an opportunity to follow how the icehotel is built. Here is how it is done.

The Icehotel is located on the shores of lake (some people argue it is a river, but it definitely looks like a lake) Jukkasjärvi. When the lake freezes in autumn, the construction of the hotel can begin. Special tools are used to saw huge blocks of ice from the lake. A forklift with custom-made fork lifts the block from the lake. Forklifts transport the standard-size ice blocks to the construction site, or to the warehouse.

View a video that shows how ice blocks are being lifted from the lake and transported to the warehouse.

Once the concrete exterior and the solar power system is ready, the Icehotel intends to keep nine deluxe suites (complete with private saunas and baths), 11 art suites, an ice bar, and an ice art gallery open during the summer (year-around). Hotel founder Yngve Bergqvist believes they will actually be more energy efficient than earlier: “We will produce around 75 kW between April and September, leaving an energy surplus that we can utilize to run existing buildings such as a restaurant, offices, and warm guest rooms.”

Summer of 2017 is the first summer when the Icehotel will be open even and ice after the snow has melted from the ground and from the lake around the site.