Since Lena had to work for part of our visit to Skelleftea, she suggested that we take her car and go on a road trip somewhere. Cool, we thought. It'd be fun to check out some other parts of the country.
I spent some time researching options and putting together maps to show Diana. A couple of things became quickly apparent. First of those things, Sweden's a big country and, with Skellftea's relatively isolated location, everything was pretty far away. We settled on three different options, each of which involved between 600 and 1,000 miles of driving! After talking it over with Lena and Toni, we decided that we'd drive northwest to the city of Bodø in northern Norway. The journey would take us north of the arctic circle (!!!) and would only be about a 300 to 400 mile drive each way.
So we set out early one morning to see rural Sweden (and Norway) on our own. The weather wasn't too great with sometimes heavy rain but it was very scenic. Some snow-capped mountains north of the arctic circle but still in Sweden:
...and some wild reindeer more-or-less in the same area:
We arrived into a fairly-cold Bodø about 7pm and met up with our airbnb host who recommended that we go to eat at a restaurant in the center of town. Dinner was good, not great, but walking around after was super fun. Remember that this area of the world has 24 hours of daylight during the summer so it was fun snapping photos like this one staring into the sun at around 10pm at the Bodø small-craft harbor:
As far as tourist destinations go, Bodø's probably not going to make too many Top-Ten lists. It's very scenic with water and mountains everywhere but the weather's not too great and there's not a whole lot to do. Our host did tell us that the weather was particularly good that day, which scares the hell out of me for what it must be like during the winter!
One of the most popular and cool things to do while in the area is to visit the natural maelstrom, called the Saltstraumen, which is about 20 minutes outside of town. This is considered the most powerful maelstrom in the world and twice a day during the tide change, massive amounts of water pass through a narrow opening creating large whirlpools. To give you an idea of scale, those are people standing in front of the bridge on the left.
The effect is something like the cars on a freeway's center fast lanes passing the slower cars in the slower outside lanes resulting in what looks like a river flowing in the center with whirlpools forming along the edges. This is a video that I took showing the maelstrom. Warning though, the wind noise in the video is quite loud.
After lunch we hiked up to the top of a hill that overlooks the whole city of Bodø and the Norwegian Sea beyond. It's funny, but thinking back to that hike as I write this, all I can remember, other than the fabulous views, were the senior-citizen Germans out hiking on the trails too. We'd always see groups of them with their hiking boots and their ski poles (walking poles?) on the metro while we lived in Stuttgart. They are f'n hardy folks! Anyway, the view of Bodø from up top:
The weather broke the next morning and made for some excellent photos of our drive back south. Viewing area on the way out of Bodø:
Random observation from the trip was the number of sod-covered roofs that we saw while in Norway. It seems that sod has been a roof covering in this part of the world almost since people have been building structures thousands of years ago. This is a much more modern version at a rest stop / gas station:
One of the things that I really wanted to do during the trip was to get a picture straddling the arctic circle like I had gotten of the Berlin Wall in Germany and the Greenwich Mean in England. I was bummed to find out that we had completely blew by the circle in Sweden on our way up to Norway as it's not very well marked. In my mind, there'd be some big sign or something saying that you're now crossing the arctic circle but there wasn't anything on the main road. We did find out later that there was a sign off the road but you couldn't see the sign while traveling on the road.
The Norwegians have done a better job than the Swedes as they've built a Arctic Circle Center where you can learn about the arctic circle and, of course, buy lots of arctic-circle-themed souvenirs. A highly-overexposed photo on the arctic circle outside the Polarsirkelensenteret:
...and another "out back" of the center also straddling the arctic circle:
Our quick, two-night trip up to Bodø and back was a great opportunity to see rural northern Sweden and Norway. Spending a couple of days and nights north of the arctic circle was very cool. We ended up driving almost 800 miles on our trip and got to see some amazing scenery. Once again, a big thanks to Lena for lending us her car. Sorry about all the bugs!