Abisko is so far up north and west that a mere hour and a half on a fairly slow moving train gets you over the border into Narvik, a beautiful port town in Norway. We found out later that this area is home to some of the most scenic fjords of Norway, the Ofotfjord, surrounded by mountains 4500 feet above the ocean.
The town of Narvik, being over the mountain range that prevents rain clouds from reaching Abisko, gets plenty of precipitation, and ample snow during winter, as you can see from this picture below :-)
During the entire train ride, we were glued to the windows taking in the breathtaking winter wonderland that lay ahead. And as it so happened, this entire train journey was unplanned – we hadn’t heard about it before, and were doing it because we heard of someone else at the hostel who’d done it the day before, and recommended it. What a fantastic idea it turned out to be!
Little villages with less than a dozen homes, frozen lakes, bare trees weighed down by snow, sunlight making the mountains glisten.. Here are a few dear memories of the winter landscape between these two arctic villages.
In Narvik, we walked away from the train station towards the waterfront, as we didn’t know where else to go. The houses we walked by all had long, dripping icicles hanging from their roofs and windows, sometimes a good foot long. We walked down to the fjord and peaked into the crystal clear, aquamarine blue waters filled with life underneath. The waters were so clear that right by the shore we could clearly see starfish, coral and other aquatic life wandering about. After taking several pictures and nearly getting numb, I headed into the only little café open that morning. It was filled with old men animatedly discussing something in brisk Norwegian over cups of coffee. And, on the little makeshift stall, there were delicious looking breads, cakes and other goodies. I was particularly drawn to the highly healthy looking crispy bread (or more like a biscuit) made entirely of seeds (!!) and a highly unhealthy looking roll of almond, fresh cream and blueberry cake. I instantly ordered it before realizing that I had no Swedish or Norwegian Kroners on me. The café would not, as luck would have it, accept credit cards or Euros. Oh boo! I was actually looking forward to it. Disappointed, I moved away to watch Uday through the windows, still out there looking around and photographing. Then the lady who makes the cakes surprised me by saying, “here, would you like some coffee? I can definitely offer you some..“. I politely declined, and was smiling to no end to think she would even do such a thing.. And then before I could say a word more, she loaded up a plate with that deliciously unhealthy-looking cake and handed it over to me saying “..here, no harm done. Enjoy!” Oh… and was it yummy! So much so that when I saved up a few bites for Uday, he liked it enough to convince her to take the 5 Euro note we had (I’m sure she is going to keep it as a memorabilia :p) and pack for us some of that biscuit and cake and Norwegian cheese along with it.
Such generosity – we saw it several times all over Sweden. They were friendly, helpful, generous and genuinely warm. We met several people going out of their way to help us. Just made the entire holiday so much more memorable.
Below – a few pictures from Narvik :
On the way back, we breathed in all the beauty of the winter snowscapes that we could hold, and eagerly awaited what the evening had in store for us. Would the clouds clear up? Would we see the skies light up? Until the next part !