Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Bonus End-of-Kungsleden Post!

Although Karolina and I had finished the trail, we still had a couple of days before our flight out of the country. We didn't let dust settle on us, however. No, we kept hiking! We kept sightseeing! I'm feeling lazy about writing text, however, so I'm not going to write much text--mostly photos. Our first full day after finishing the trail we went on a day hike in Abisko National Park which took most of the day. The next day, we took a train to Kiruna where we spent one more night before our flight was scheduled to leave Kiruna to Stockholm and into the rest of Europe.

I will make a quick mention of Kiruna. Neither Karolina nor I knew much about the town before arriving--it was just the gateway to the airport for us--but it turned out to be a much more fascinating place than I had imagined. It's situated next to a giant mine--the largest underground iron ore mine in the world. Magnetite is mined to produced various iron ores which are transported to Norway for shipment around the rest of the world. The tailings from the mine loomed over the city.

We stayed at a small hostel which, while checking in, the woman warned us that we might hear a large explosion in the middle of the night but not to worry--that was just work at the mine. Apparently, they like to produce loud, ground-shaking explosions in the middle of the night when people are asleep because... well, I'm not sure why. I was a little hopeful to have that experience, but alas, there was no blasting during our short stay. (At least nothing that we heard!)

Because of the extensive mining activities, the city is slowly sinking and about ten years ago, they decided the city--or at least a pretty large chunk of it--needed to be relocated. The downtown area is being move 3 kilometers away from its current location and an entire section of the city had been boarded off and was in the process of being demolished. Buildings with historical interest will be moved. Needless to say, the relocation of a city with 18,000 people doesn't happen overnight.

And--the mine is open for public tours! Which Karolina and I really wanted to do, but alas, we had arrived on a Sunday, the one day of the week when there are no tours, and we were scheduled to fly out Monday before the first tour would start. If I ever find myself stuck in Kiruna for a day again, I'm totally going to make sure it's a day when the mine is open for tours!

So now to the after-trail photos!

Karolina waits for the train to Kiruna.
It's our train!
Kiruna has a lot of mining-related public art.

It almost kind of looks like it's snowing in this photo, doesn't it? It's not, but all those fasteners on the train kind of looked like snowflakes in my photo, which is enhanced by the stickers on the building behind it and the leaves on the ground around it. Totally not snow, though!
This very large wooden church will be relocated to the "new" town a few kilometers away in a couple of years.
The massive mine looms over the city.
I have no idea why Kiruna has a rocket on display.
Karolina enjoys a pizza. You'd think she hadn't eaten one for a month! Because, you know, she hadn't. =) Also interesting, she ordered a reindeer pizza with real reindeer meat!
The mine looming over the city again.

We left the trail in the nick of time. The snow in these mountains showed up only the night before we flew out! And I saw online that some of the huts we went by had been expected to get a few inches of snow. If we took just two days longer to finish, this is what we might have had to walk through!

I took this video on the shuttle bus from Kiruna to the airport. Two things to notice--the large mine looming over the city, and the block or two that's being demolished and moved 3 kilometers away to the new city center.

No comments: