As there didn't promise to be a lot happening in Abisko for New Year's Eve, we were booked to visit the nearby Aurora Sky Station for the evening. This is a mountain-top viewing platform, located on a mountain near to Abisko Turiststation, and it's supposed to be a great place for seeing the northern lights. The only way up is via a chairlift and, unfortunately, Abisko had been experiencing strong winds all day, which meant that it wasn't safe for the chairlift to run. A bit disappointing, but I guess that just means we'll have to come back another year and try again On nights when the chairlift is cancelled, there is an alternative programme at Abisko Turiststation instead, so we were picked up by a shuttle service to participate in that instead.
We arrived at the Turiststation at around 20.50. The activities weren't due to start until 21.00 and the number of layers we were wearing meant that it was really hot inside, so we decided to wait outside for a while.
The Christmas decorations were pretty
At 9pm we were ticked off the list and then invited into what I can only describe as a large wooden teepee, with a big fire burning in the middle.
We sat here briefly, before being offered the opportunity to go on a northern lights walking tour. We didn't ultimately end up seeing any northern lights, but it was still a fun experience Our guide led us down a series of snowy paths for about half an hour, towards the shore of lake Torneträsk. We definitely wouldn't have walked so far in the dark on our own. The sky wasn't as cloudy as it had been earlier in the day and so we were able to see an amazing quantity of stars, although unfortunately it wasn't possible to capture the night sky with our phone cameras.
Eventually we walked back up to the teepee, where there was free gluehwein and hot chocolate on offer
There was also dried reindeer meat, but I gave that a miss
It was definitely a different way to spend New Year's Eve
When we woke up in Abisko this morning, we were in the middle of a blizzard.
We were travelling to Kiruna today, but our train wasn't until 12.26, so we had time for a final walk around the village in the snow
And there was a lot of snow; it didn't take long until we were both covered in it
It was really beautiful to be walking through the snow on New Year's Day though
We needed to check out of our hostel around 11, so after a while we had to turn around and go retrieve our suitcases. The station is only a few hundred metres from where we were staying, but it turns out that pulling your suitcase through fresh snow is hard work!
We had a while to wait at the station for our train.
The platform looked deserted in the snow.
The trains in Sweden appear to run on time even during blizzards though
There was a nice heated waiting room at the station but some of us were a bit warm after pulling our suitcases through the snow
The train arrived promptly and soon we were on a journey through a snowy wilderness.
It was snowing so much that a lot of the view was obscured, but every so often I could make out the shapes of mountains in the distance.
It's hard to make out in the pictures, but for a while the train travelled alongside lake Torneträsk.
As we moved away from the lake and got closer towards Kiruna, the weather seemed to improve a bit and the views became a bit clearer
Soon we arrived in Kiruna itself.
It looked like there were lots of wagons of iron ore here, waiting to go to Narvik, and in the background behind them we could just make out what I'm guessing is the mine.
The station is a couple of kilometres outside the main centre of Kiruna, so there was more snow to pull our cases through.
Everywhere looked really pretty though
We weren't able to check into our apartment until 3pm, so we had a bit of time to explore.
Everything was closed up today for New Year's Day, but we found a main street with a supermarket without too many difficulties
Plus we got to see some really beautiful colours in the sunset.
Then it was time to check in.
This is definitely the most spacious accommodation of our trip
In addition to a living room, we have a bedroom...
...and a huge kitchen/dining area.
We were actually really lucky with the hostel in Abisko and were the only people staying in it for the past two nights, but it's definitely nice to have a bit more space to spread out this evening