It’s 6am. It’s just stopped raining. I woke up at daft O’Clock in the morning as usual. These early starts are to be become a precious corner of the day.
We are as far from London as it’s possible to get on an Interail pass. Today we travel on the Kiruna line through Lapland. Murmansk is further North than Narvik and Kiruna, but that’s the only railway north of here. Along with the northern tip of the Nordlandsbanen Line we caught yesterday, these are the only Arctic railway lines. Nothing in Alaska or Canada, nor anything else in Russia, is anywhere near this latitude.
The opening climb out of Norway through a fjord is quite spectacular. That treat is followed by several hours of bleak moorland, not dissimilar to my native Peak District. but for the 4 ft fir trees, probably decades old.
The recently purchased breakfast supplies of pastries and fruit are dispensed. The first of very many squeazy bacon jalapeno cheese sandwiches are made with the excellent Norwegian bread.
There is a degree of disorientation setting in. Lloyd thinks we’ve been traveling a day longer than we have. The result of telescoping six countries and 3,500 km of railway into 72 hours. The relentless pace of the trip is now becoming apparent to all. But it’s only just started.
The train reverses direction at Kiruna, so while the engine is run round to the other end we have time to view this most remote of places. It is of course the worlds largest iron ore mine. The slag heaps are the size of the Chilterns.
Once we re-cross the Arctic Circle the trees regain their stature and for the rest of the journey we could as well have been deep in Siberia. Perhaps we should have gone via the Inlandsbanen, reputedly Sweden’s most beautiful line. But perhaps we should have included Helsinki, and Warsaw. There’s only so much you can stuff into 18 days.
A quick change of trains at and we are onto our third sleeper of the trip, taking us back south to Stockholm. Squeezy cheese sarnies and the last of the hard liquor keep us going. Various geographical excuses are toasted throughout the day. Nightfall doesn’t really occur, or so I am told. I collapse while the party is still going.
We’re holding tickets and reservations to now race round the whole of Europe and experience our collective culture in a unique way over the next two weeks. Tomorrow we will hit Stockholm and from then on it will be an average of two capital cities per day, and a succession of the continent’s most scenic and spectacular railway rides, all the way home.
Train 9 – 10:15 Narvik to Boden
Train 10 – 17:29 Boden to Stockholm Sleeper
Finish: Still in Sweden. It’s still not gone dark, that’s 48 hours so far since it last went dark, and there are still trees outside.
Also on this day
Paul’s Photos http://www.flickr.com/photos/paul_clarke/sets/72157634570850837/
Darren’s Blog http://blog.darrenf.org/2013/07/south.html
Lloyd’s Blog http://www.lloydshepherd.com/2013/07/09/day-five-trees-trees-trees/
Dave’s Blog http://disorientateddave.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/mostly-sweden.html