kumimonster: (me wcGreen)
So sleeping in the ice hotel wasn't really a challenge - I was pretty tired after the long day of flying and traveling and trying to stay awake. I passed out all too quickly. However I did wake up in the middle of the night and instead of tossing and turning I immediately got out of my sleeping bag, threw on the borrowed ice-hotel boots, and walked to the bathroom.
The air inside was brisk - as was my walk. I had on my base-layer bottoms and top, and my mid-layer fleece top during the night. When I got to the locker rooms, I ran into a group of people having a party. Apparently they were drinking in the locker room as well as the men's shower room. I was on a mission so I didn't really stick around. I did grab my phone before heading back to the ice-room. (Ah, it was about 01h30).

I got back to the room and crawled into the sleeping bag. For me, the difficult part in trying to get back to sleep was the fact that I just felt so tangled up. You sleep in a sheet - like a giant pillow case. This is the liner. It doesn't feel chilly like the inner, synthetic part of the sleeping bag, however it made me feel very restricted. I didn't want to get rid of my warming layers nor sleep while touching the inner cooler sleeping bag layer.
When you've got the sleeping bag all zipped up it's highly insulating. There's a small hole where you can let air in but you've got to find the right balance. Too much air = a chilly face, too little air = so much stuffy heat.

I dozed off for a couple more hours. I thought about sleeping some more and getting the full experience of the hot-ligonberry-juice-delivery-man wake up call. But that was still a couple of hours off so I gave up on trying to sleep more and went back to the lounge. Oh and before doing so I snapped some photos (and also woke Richard up with the camera flash). When the camera flash went off, I figured out why our room was called, "Forest Fairy" :-D





I spent the next couple of hours enjoying the quiet in the lounge with hot chocolate from the vending machine. I got to catch up on posting photos and just chilling out. It was pretty nice. Eventually I got hungry so I got Richard to hurry up so we could hit the breakfast buffet. I was very happy with it because it has lactose free berry yoghurt. However I must say that so far, the buffet at the Anantara Mui Ne resort in Vietnam is the one I miss the most.

After breakfast we got ready for our first planned excursion: dog sledding :-D
The things I learned:
Sit near the back.
If there are only 2 of you, your view isn't obscured and you're not going to miss anything.
If there is a larger group, do not sit in the front.
The dogs run pretty fast.
When they run they kick up little bits of ice that you can see land on the seat.
The dogs do not stop for bathroom breaks. They take poops while running.
When they run they fling up little bits of poo.
Sit in the back.












After our sledding excursion we headed back to the IceHotel to watch the big ice extraction machines do their work for a bit. It was pretty cool.



There was some construction also happening which I just learned today was for some big Ice Run. "Toughest Ice" You can see part of the hotel locations no longer intact. :-D

There's a new video up but it's on facebook and I can't seem to embed the thing.
So this is the video from last year:



We then headed into the church. It was so pretty. I couldn't believe I'd tell people, "Skip the bar, get into the church!" I really loved the fern design. Each "leaf" was an individual tube of ice.







We then headed to our new warm room to take a little nap before the evening's snowmobile northern lights hunt!
More later!
kumimonster: (me wcGreen)
The journey getting there was a little on the long side but very nice!
I was on Virgin for the first leg (SFO-ORD) which is always a joy, and then SAS the rest of the way (ORD-ARN-KRN). And surprise, Richard and I were in Plus which means we had lounge access and were able to breeze through security check lines (in SE airports - not US ones though). I would fly SAS again readily.

I met up with Richard in Chicago. Since I knew we'd have a little bit of time I suggested eating at Tortas Frontera. I'm so happy I did. It was great! There are a couple at ORD - the preferred one has the actual restaurant seating in the international terminal.



We then boarded an 8 hour flight to Stockholm, after that we continued onward to Kiruna for a couple more hours!



It took some time for us to get to the hotel after landing in Kiruna. While we waited for the shuttle to pick us up, I fell asleep. Finally Richard called them and they sent a taxi. It took a few hours AND they forgot us! UGH. Anyway, it was a short ride over to Jukkasjärvi.

We walked over to the cold-room check in area and set our bags down so we could check out the available art suites. We had an art suite booked but if you don't know what you want in advance you'll get one picked for you. When you arrive you can change and pick one of the available ones.
There are a few "tiers" of ice rooms you can sleep in. There's a basic ice room, there's a northern lights room (which features a colorful light display you can shut off at night), and then there are the art suites. There are also 2 luxury suites that require a card key to access.
During the day, the hotel is open for visitors. It's in a separate building and when you enter, there's a main hallway with corridors on either side. Down each corridor are doorways with a bit of fabric functioning as a "door". Until 18h00 you can enter any of the rooms freely to take photos and wander about.
So we went through to select our room - we chose 317 (my bday!) - and then moved our bags into our warm-storage area. For those staying in the ice rooms, you get to share a locker room changing area with most of the guests. If you get an art-suite, you get a large closet space with a mirror and seating to store your items. There are separate shower/sauna rooms for wo/men as well stocked with towels and soap/shampoo. Really, it's very nice.





So we went and visit the IceBar for a quick drink. I actually didn't have one. The colours scared me. It was pretty sad. Considering the hotel is celebrating it's 25th year, we felt that the IceBar should've had something with a little bit more oomph. And when I tell people to visit the church, and don't bother with the bar, you know something is wrong! I didn't really take any photos of the bar because I didn't think it warranted photos. The church you'll see later! After Richard's drink, we wandered back into the IceHotel to take photos of the first half of the rooms!











By this time we were pretty exhausted. The rooms are just too cold to stay in and as I mentioned above, the public can roam around until 18h00. So we hung out in the warm-room lounge for a bit. It was pretty crowded. We had a light dinner in the main restaurant. I ate foie gras.




We then went to the cold-room lounge which ended up being my favorite place to chill out. There's a machine for coffee and hot chocolate (gotta pay for it but whatever), there's free water, wifi and a fireplace that keeps everything toasty. I actually ended up hanging out in a tank top, flip flops and sweat pants.

2015 march 16 - Jukkasjärvi from KumiM on Vimeo.



I took a shower in the evening. It helped keep me awake for a little bit longer. It also got the stink from the too-many-hours of travel off of me. We exchanged our boots for the free ones given out by the hotel, grabbed the inner liners and arctic sleeping bags (all supplied by the icehotel) and then got ready for bed!
You leave most of your personal belongings in the locker storage area. You don't want anything that you're not actually wearing because it'll get too cold during the night. That's why you use the hotel's items like boots which will be sitting in the cold room, outside of the warmth of the sleeping bag.

OK. This is good enough for now. More later when I get to it.

ALL the photos are at my tumblr moblog
(in reverse order though)
kumimonster: (gilles glassed)
Yes, well life has been happening.
Nothing too thrilling, just work and diving mostly.

And even though I've retired from that previous work that allowed and even facilitated so much travel, luckily, my ability to keep traveling hasn't stopped - although I have cut down a bit.

So this time, I'm headed to Sweden - at the end of this week actually!
I've been to Malmö (while visiting Copenhagen), and on another visit I traveled directly to Stockholm and up to Umeå in northern Sweden. It's still sub-arctic and about 250 miles south of the arctic circle.
This time I'm headed about 100 miles north of the arctic circle to Kiruna and then traveling to Jukkasjärvi - where the Ice Hotel is made every year.

Going with my main travel buddy, Richard.
My flights: SFO>ORD>ARN>KRN
(another new airport for me! Kiruna!)


I've been shopping, which is something I don't like. But I do like some of the new gear I've picked up. The hotel does set you up with gear but I needed my base- and mid-layers. I got a pair of outer layer pants from R, and I got a nice goose down jacket online. R said he really likes his Baffin boots so I got a pair of my own too. My new mid-layer Columbia fleece is teal and actually matches my boots, though I'll be completely covered in black - but at least I know what I'm wearing underneath!


yup, the smartwool socks don't actually match - that's how they came.


my new Baffin boots. Flare - rated to -50C!


people say they really like this company. I hope they work out for me. And a pair of Wigwam socks too.


This is a couple of recent webcam shots from the ice hotel

1225538846-Weather-Jukkasjärvi,-Norrbottens-Län,-Sweden-Jukkasjärvi
ice

***
I posted about wanting to go to the Ice Hotel in May of 2006 on LJ.

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