Tag Archives: travel

View of Rapadalen from Skierfe

Must Visit in Sweden: Sarek National Park (Part 1 of 2)

There are 29 national parks in Sweden. Though I want to go to every single one of them, I don’t think I can make it by the end of my study. I only been to 6 out of that 29. Not even close, I know. Each of those have their own specialty. Fulufjället has the third oldest tree in the world (Swede like to think it’s the oldest), Gotska Sandön has plenty of wild seals for us to see, and Skuleskogen is the most rapid land growth in the world (1cm rise every year). But I have to point at Sarek if people is asking me “Which one is the most beautiful?”

part 1: About Sarek National Park, Getting there, Stay in Sarek
part 2: Hiking Trails, Other notes, Links

About Sarek National Park

Speaking about national park in Stockholm, people usually mention Tyresta (as it is the closest, easiest access from the city) and Abisko (for being the northern and starting point of the most famous hiking trail in Sweden: Kungsleden). Sarek is a bit uncommon for those who doesn’t go out to nature often. Having visited some national parks in Sweden, I still don’t know about Sarek until last year when a friend mentioned about it on our discussion. Hearing the name, researching on the net, I quickly decide that I want to visit Sarek. I need to.

View of Rapadalen from the mountain side

View of Rapadalen from the mountain side

Four of us pose in Skierfe

Four of us pose in Skierfe

I mentioned Kungsleden above, as the most famous (and longest) hiking trail in Sweden. This trail goes down to Sarek as well. Though it’s only passes small part of Sarek, but I can say this part of Sarek is one of the most beautiful part. There is a high cliff overlooking a valley (called Rapadalen) with several rivers in the center of it. Since Sarek contains several tall mountain and located in northern Sweden, these mountains are covered in snow all season. A beautiful view of the green valley plus the white mountains in its background will impress you.

Information on the internet about Sarek and its detail (trail options, length, entrance, topography, etc) is not so clear, so I will add a bit about that in this article.

Getting to Sarek

Located in the north side of Sweden (Jokkmokk municipality), I can understand that Sarek is not a popular destination. It is a bit hard to reach the park. If you are flying to cut some distance, some of the closest big airports are Kiruna, Luleå (both are about 250km away from any entrance) and Skellefteå (380km). From these airports, you can take trains and buses (yes, “-es” because it will be more than one connection). Moreover, these connections can take long time as each train or bus usually only run twice a day. Oh, and they are not cheap (sorry, bus and trains). Like around SEK120 for one way before you change to next connection. My suggestion is to rent a car from the airports (or train station) and park in Sarek’s entrance.

Badly drawn map (by me)

Badly drawn map (by me)

Laitaure river. Photo by Steve Darmadi

Laitaure river. Photo by Steve Darmadi

From my small research, there are two common entrances: northeast entrance (Saltuokta) and southwest entrance (Kvikkjokk). Kungsleden passes these two spots as well therefore usually hiker enter from one entrance and exit from another. Then I found third entrance in the southeast (Sitoälvsbron). This third entrance is the closest to Rapadalen and don’t require any boat crossing like the other two entrances. Boat crossing is not free and schedule are not so often.

Stay in the national park

Like the usual hiking accommodation options, there are only 2 choices: cabins or tents. Along Saltuokta to Kvikkjokk, there are 4 STF (Swedish tourism association) mountain cabins. They are around SEK200 per person per night. The facility varies, but mostly dry toilet, beds (bring your own bedsheet), running water, small shops, and kitchen. If you bring your own tent and want to camp in the cabins area, it is also possible but you will be charged some fee as well (almost as much as stay in the cabin). It is free to stay anywhere in the national park (outside of the cabin area). There will be some river (as clean water source) if you decide to camp in the trail.

STF Aktse cabin

STF Aktse cabin

Camp with beautiful view

Camp with beautiful view

(Continue to part 2 – end)

Travel Journal: Lapland

Do you guys get goosebumps just by remembering an amazing landscape, or simple an amazing experience? Well, this is how I feel right now. I don’t even know where to begin. This year I went on a trip to Lapland with my friends, all the way across the arctic circle, and this is definitely the best way to start the year. So let me begin by sharing with you guys what was my trip about.

Day 1: “1,700 km”

We started our journey from Gothenburg where we took a morning train to Stockholm, this was our meeting point with the rest of the group (have I mention how much I like trains in Europe? It’s the best way to move around and appreciate the landscape at the same time!). From Stockholm we got in a bus to begin the 14-ish hours journey to Kiruna. So yes, basically the first day we were trapped in a bus for 14-ish hours, but contrary to what you might be thinking, it was actually ok. We played Monopoly in the iPad (in my opinion the best 5 EU invested).

Day 2: “Northernmost town in Sweden”

After what it seemed an endless bus ride, we arrive to Kiruna, the northernmost town in Sweden, where we checked-in the hostel and immediately went to the breakfast buffet. After a having frukost (breakfast in Swedish) we took a walk aroun the town. Kiruna is known for being a mining town, so everything is settled around the iron mine.

At mid day we went on for the combi tour (dog sledge and snow mobile), and let me tell you… it was THE most exciting thing i’ve ever done in the past years. I didn’t wanted to think much about the dog sledge before going to the tour because I didn’t want to build a high expectation and be dissapointed after, but it was impossible not to think about it, at the end it was AMAZING, I was so excited that I wanted to buy 13 dogs and move around Gothenburg in a dog sledge (how cool would that be?). Im going off track now, so…yes…we splited into groups of 3 and each group hopped in a dog sledge to begin the tour, after 30 minutes we meet the rest of the group to swap from dog sledge to snow mobiles and viceversa.

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Zamba Husky Dog Sledge

Wait, before we swapped we obviously had FIKA! Going through the snow in a dog sledge means that you will move through the air faster, so this will make the thermal feeling way worse, and now imagine having -14 degrees air in your face. After 30 minutes I could  feel how my ears were about to fall off my head. So we drank coffee and tea and had muffins in this place.

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After the snow mobile tour we headed back to the hostel to have a couple of drinks before going to the New Year’s dinner. We had dinner in Scandic Ferrum Hotel in Kiruna and then off course we went to the club (probably the only club in Kiruna), I don’t have pictures of this part but you guys can imagine what happens if you put students in a club after a few drinks.

Day 3: “Let’s go further north

9:00 – alarm sounds *hits snooze*

9:16 – alarm sounds again, and now I know that it’s time to wake up, take a shower, pack our things and hop in the bus again. This time we were heading the ice hotel! The ice hotel is in the outskirts of Kiruna, so it was pointless removing all the layers. Just outside the town center  (like 1 km… kidding, it was more like 16 km) the ice hotel is located, in here we took a tour were the guide explained how the hotel is built, how it started, and so on. After the tour we got free time to explore the ice hotel.

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Before moving on to our next destination, we stopped by Rensjön where we visited a Sami family, in there they explained us how they live, their traditions, and everything about reindeers.

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Abisko was our next destination, where we stayed in Abisko Turistation STF Hostel, an amazing place in the middle of nature, a resort with cabins, a hotel and the hostel. A tourist meeting point for everyone interested in what Lapland has to offer. We arrive to the hostel around 17:00 so we went straight to the kitchen to cook something to dinner (we forgot the food we bought in the hostel in Kiruna, so we literally had bread with sauce for lunch).

Afterwards, we went to a tipi to have some marshmallows and glogg (hot wine with spices, popular in Sweden during the winter).

Tipi Abisko

Day 4: “Crossing the border

I’ve never considered myself a morning person, probably I will never be one. But something weird happens when I’m traveling, somehow I wake up much more easily. On the 4th day we went to Narvik, a town close to the border between Sweden and Norway, on our way to Narvik we saw even more amazing landscapes, and you know what they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words“.

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After a long day we returned to Abisko, where we had dinner and then we went to the sauna, we basically turned the sauna into a party. We got to see the auroras but I didn’t had my camera with me, they were amazing!

Day 5: “-22 degrees”

Final day. You might have heard that in Sweden there’s only a few hours of sunlight during the winter, it’s true…but It’s not as dark as you might think. Anyway, we decided to explore the area where the sauna was located, mainly because during the night we couldn’t see much. On our way to the sauna we found this spot.

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1.2 km later we reached the sauna, and behind the sauna a lake with steam coming out of the water surface, it kinda looked like one of those crime thriller scenes, the ones you can imagine when you read any Nordic thriller.

Sauna Abisko Turistation

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We packed everything on the bus and started our journey back, after 15 hours we were back in Stockholm.

This was the perfect way of ending a year and starting a new one, with a lot of new experiences and very good memories. I’m looking forward to explore more places in 2017.


#AndrésInGöteborg

Why I chose to study 9370 km away from my home country.

I’m writing this at 10 km of altitude, while listening to Arctic Monkeys in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean inside of an Boeing 747-8, and it is until now that I realize how far is Mexico from Sweden (this is kinda obvious, it’s geography not rocket science right? but still…).

A lot of people have asked before why I chose Sweden? Why I chose a place to study so far from my home country?

DelsjönPhoto credit: Flavien Daussy.

So, let me explain to you guys why I chose Sweden.

Challenge accepted

Studying in Sweden represents a challenge, first of all because they speak another language, although everyone (literally everyone) in here speaks English I wanted to go to a place where I could experience something different, a different continent, a different culture, a different way of seeing things, a different everything.

Probably you have heard that great things are accomplished outside our comfort zone, and now I understand why.

Let’s put it like this, imagine your life is an experiment, if you do the exact same thing over and over again the results won’t change, if you control every single variable your outputs will be the same, this doesn’t mean that you should immediately start doing random stuff. But, I believe that everyone has some crazy idea; maybe trying a new sport, or learning something new. Einstein once said “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

I agree.

Now picture this: new country, new city, new class mates, new educational system, new food… I could go for hours but you get the point. A lot of new inputs will result in a buttload (buttload is actually a unit of the imperial system) of new experiences.

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Fresh start, new possibilities

You will put into practice new skills that you didn’t even knew you had, you will dedicate 3 hours to do laundry just because you don’t have idea of what are you doing, you will have the opportunity to join a student society or committee, and so on.

The possibility of new experiences increase linearly in function of how much we change the input variables this means that life is a function of new experiences and new adventures (at least that’s how I see it). Just like Elke said in her post (you can chek it out here), going to Sweden is a new shot for just about anything.

I also agree.

IMG_5333A lot of people asked me before, “aren’t you afraid of going to a place so far from your home, to a place where you don’t know anyone, to a place where you don’t even speak the language, to a place where during winter you only see the sun a couple of hours, where in some parts of the country the temperature is so cold that your eyelashes freeze?” and the answer is simple: of course I was afraid, but that was the idea, and I can tell you that after just 3 months of living in Sweden this was the best idea I’ve had so far. And just by the simple fact that in the last 3 months I’ve lived a lot of new experiences, and this is just the beginning…

To be continued…

Gamla Stan as seen from Skeppsholmen

Walking in Stockholm: Skeppsholmen and Kastellholmen

Few days ago a friend from Holland message me on Facebook and told me that she and her husband is in Stockholm. “We visited spots in the city, now we want something only a locals know. Can you walk with us?” I am not sure I considered as a local but it’s a tempting challenge. Do I know a place only a locals know? My thought went to many places labelled as “not in the guide book” in my mind. The cemetery Skogskyrkogården, the forest of Bagarmossen, and so on. When she told me that they don’t have transport card, the list got filtered again. Out of nowhere, my thought went “Dude, you know beautiful spot in the end of Kastellholmen. That is within walking distance” Continue reading

from zpply.com

The Four Game: Places

Do you have this game on your Facebook circle that went viral, about the list of four things you called, you like to eat and drink, and so on? So basically someone start with their top four list, then in the end, they will tag four friends to continue with their answer on top four list, and tag another four friends, and so on and so on until the end of time. Continue reading

Louisiana Museum and the Denmark-Sweden Border Control

It was a long weekend break last week and this calls for a short getaway. I’ve heard so much about Louisiana Museum, so stoked to finally visiting there.

Travelling to Copenhagen

I find it very convenient to travel to Denmark. Since I’m living very close to Skåne (South of Sweden), the fastest and most economical way for me to get to Copenhagen is to take the train from Sweden. From Lund/Malmö, it will only take about half an hour or less to Copenhagen.

I bought my train ticket from ticket machine at the train station. The ticket is valid for all train operators, including SJ and Öresundståg. The validity of the time period is also stated on the ticket, longer distance has longer validity such as a few hours.

If you’re travelling together with a friend and using the jojo card under SkåneTrafiken, consider getting the ‘Duo/Familj-biljetten’ option at the ticket machine. This ticket is valid for 2 adults travelling together and it gives a further 10% discount.

Travelling to Louisiana Museum of Modern Arts

I bought the train ticket directly to Humlebæk station. I changed the train at Copenhagen Airport and it takes a further one hour ride to Humlebæk. After a short walk from the station, I arrived at Louisiana Museum of Modern Arts. Woohoo!

Students pay DKK 100 for the entry instead of adult price, so don’t forget to bring your student ID. The museum’s cafe has very nice food with a scenic view. However, it’s a little pricey for me. Next time, I would remember to pack the picnic food along. Besides, the sunny spring weather is perfect for picnics.

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What to see in Louisiana 

There are currently 3 main exhibitions – Fire Under Snow, Eye Attack and Illumination along with several galleries of different artists. The outdoor sculpture park is amazing! The view is spot on. I can easily spend a few hours at the museum.

What excites me are the upcoming exhibitions  – Classics at Louisiana which features a selection of classic works from Lichtenstein, Warhol, Picasso, Hockney, Kiefer and Yves Klein as well as the Picasso before Picasso, featuring Picasso’s earliest works as an adolescent. There are concerts and interesting workshops, pretty a lot going on!

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Getting back to Sweden and the Border Control

It is a breeze to get out of Sweden but getting back is another matter. Initially, the border control was only done at Malmö Hyllie station, the first station after Copenhagen. After which, border control was also initiated at the Copenhagen airport upon entering the train platform. This means that you have to show your ID twice.

I often commute between Copenhagen and Sweden and is used to the border control and delays. However, this time round I was informed that my Swedish ID card wasn’t enough as I’m not a citizen and I need to further produce additional visa document which shows that I’m allowed to stay in Sweden. This has never happened before.

I usually don’t bring my visa document with me, it just so happened I was also travelling to Prague and I brought it along (in case) even though I have never been requested to produce visa document when I travel in Europe. In the train, two or three international students sitting behind me were asked the same. They have their ID/passports but were still required to show the student visa proof (they were not prepared for this) and had further explanations to do.

The overall delay was about 45 minutes. I would recommend to avoid taking the last train in case of delays or train cancellation. Always bring your ID/passport and visa documents with you whenever you travel. Because of the hassle, I avoid going to Emporia, one of my favourite big shopping mall by Malmö Hyllie station.