While coming back from North of Sweden, I decided to catch the train from Kiruna instaed of Luleå as I could join my boyfriend for the returning trip. Little did I know God’s plan then 😀
So, on the day, we got busy in last minute packing and cooking some easy eats with whatever he left in the fridge , for’ the train journey was going to a long one. Train leaves from Kiruna C at 18.15. We planned to start from the apartment at 17.30, to walk upto the bus station where the city offers free carriage to the train station for everyone. All the cooking , cleaning, packing done around 17 and we got ready. I was worried as K had heavy luggage, as he was going back after two long years, compared to me who had only a 40 days trip. We tried to move our heavy trollies , camera, tripod backpacks as fast as possible through the thick snow. But apparently it was not fast enough, as I reached the bus station, the lady behind the wheel were already leaving. But K was far behind with his heavy luggage . I requested her to wait, but she wouldn’t listen after 2 minutes as other passengers were getting anxious. And that is natural I knew. I also knew the bus would go first few meters on the same road K was coming, so I said to her, if you see him coming while you drive, please let him board the bus. I was torn between indecision whether to leave the bus, or to go to the station with half of the heavy luggage. If you are wondering, it is know that easy to get taxi always in so up north. Anyway, fortunately, as we started I spotted K , stuck in the signal. Someone from behind snapped on me “ at least you should go and help him” he said sarcastically “ then we wont miss our train” . God, I was already pretty angry on K, and he hit the button. I answered back” we are not going to miss the train”. I know it was rude enough for me, but it is true. The train in Kiruna never leaves the station without this bus reaches, beacause it is so tiny a town, almost every passenger comes with this bus. Funny that God was laughing at him, too. Anyway, the driver lady told me not to get down and sit tight, while she herself helped K to put the luggage. And it was 18.05. Within 2 minutes we reached the station, ( yeah city is that small!). I thanked our driver and said sorry on our part and ran for the train. And then…….
The display said train will start at 19 instead of 18.15. I was not impatient, as I almost expected some delay. The train service in north is not so perfect specially in winter. It is almost always late, but some times make it up while reaching the final destination. Finally at 19.30, the train started moving. I saw some snow gathering over the train window, I got little curious as the inside is warm enough. But soon we got busy in eating chilly nuts … uhhh yummm… and I forgot everything. At around 20.00 , the train reached at Gallevaara and stopped. I had a little fight with K about his ever lazy attitude, and grumpiness. So I was busy eating …. Lolz!!! What!! “I eat when I am upset”.
Anyway, the sole member of crew, a lady, came to us to know if we are catching a flight from Stockholm. I said “we are but only on Thursday”. It was Monday then. She kept asking all the passengers as most of them were tourists. Only then I realized what is happening, the snow kept increasing in the window, the train is stuck, and we are gone only one station. At last she announced, the snow has jammed the engine or something like that. They cannot risk carrying with this train. The next compartment already covered with snow inside , yes inside. She said, we cannot risk taking you further only to stop in the middle of nowhere in between the miles long snow covered field. ‘ What she did not say is we are going to die of cold if it happens in a dark ice field in between stations , hundreds of miles away from commodities we would need to combat cold. She told us she is arranging a bus to take us to Luleå, from where we can board a new train , so we waited. I was sitting in the window towards city side, so whenever a bus came I thought this is the one. But alas!! People around us got impatient. The train was supposed to reache Stockholm next day at 10.30 am. Many had their flights in the evening, or even in afternoon. Two girls sitting behind us were flying to neatehrlands, they had the flight at 14.00 next day. Two guys were flying to Paris , one to Berlin. But I thought, thank god I had it after two days. I could not afford missing a flight which is far more long and far more expensive.
Anyway, K refused to give me his iPod, ( can you belive it? Really guys never grow up!!!) and I abandoned him only to go and sit in the first class. The train had hardly 50 passengers. After some time, I went to Bistro to grab a cup of coffee,and find it was given for free. Sometimes later, I saw people coming over the bistro counter and taking whatever they want. A man who was scowling at the crew lady some times before very harshly, bring a huge bag to fill whatever they want. He screamed, they are not arranging anything, we will take everything. Soon after everyone followed. I wanted only a water bottle, but when I went for eat a sweet couple told me, it is the crew lady who told the passengers that as they are not able to arrange anything, bistro is free. Everyone can take whatever they want for absolutely no money. I told them if they can hand me a waterbottle, they gave me two along with a sweet lime, a coke. I took some sandwiches, crumbles, and chocolates as well. K came looking for me and took another water bottle. Every one looked happy as they kept taking foods and drinks.
At last the lady came to us, told no bus is coming. Instead what she could arrange was a train which will take us to Luleå, they will arrange a hotel there to stay up at night and next day at 16.37 there will be another train, which we can board free of cost which will reach next to next day at 6.30 in Stcokholm. That meant, we will reach Stockholm, on Wednesday at 6.30 am instead of Tuesday 10.30 am. She said that is the best she could offer to us. I got disappointed, not only we had the hostel booked which means we lost 500 SEK, but also my plan to visit the old town of Stockholm, and army museum and free walking tour are not gonna happen. But it was not bad idea either, because we could see the town of Luleå together, after all I have seen Stockholm enough in summer. And other alternative looked less promising, where they will take us to Umeå , fromwhere we have to catch a train in 15 minutes gap. If we miss it, she cant do anything for us there as it is not her domain. So, I agreed. The train would come at 1 am at night. The last two compartments had sleeping berths. She offered the empty berths to all passengers who booked for seating only. Me and K got a small cubicle with 3 berths, shower and heating. The crew lady were an angel I must admit. She offered me some more sandwiches and one orange juice. I asked her if she had anything for herself. She was not responsible for what was happening. She even had the only off-day of the week next morning, which was gone waste due to this incident. She told me ‘ she was tired and frustrated with the arguments she had to do with the authority to arrange everything for her passengers. She did not feel like eating when she had to deliver every news by running from one compartments to other. But I insisted.
K took the upper berth, as I insisted to take the lower one. I thought of taking a nap, then I heard the engine. At last our savior train has come. What occurred to me I do not know, but I sat up to drink some juice and then I saw it again. The northern light … immediately I woke K up who tried to take some picture with his tripod. As the train started whistling and increased pace leaving the city of gallievarra behind, I saw an amazing view I can never think of. The lights of the city are gone. On both sides of the track lie the dark ice covered fields. And the whole sky above is glistening with the green northern lights. The aurora was dancing from one part of the sky to another. Sometimes it gets prominent sometimes it fades.. the show went on almost for half an hour till it was gone and everything was covered with thick darkness. We finally managed to go back to our sleep.
We reached Luleå at 3.30am. The hotel, as I knew, were only 2 minutes walk from the cute little train station. Comfort arctic hotel is a 4 star hotel of Luleå where the tariff for one night is around 120 EUR/ night. The hotel staff assigned us rooms, and told complementary breakfast starts at 7.30 and check out is at 11. Dog-tired, I headed for the room, freshened up and immediately fell asleep. I woke up at 9 and went for breakfast.
It is not the room, but the breakfast hold the signature that it really is a 4 star hotel. It has a rich combination of continental , English and traditional Swedish breakfast. Except for bread and scrambled eggs, I mostly ate Swedish delicacies like pickled Herring, smoked Herring, smoked turkey and rein deer sausage. It was almost a brunch. Then we checked out at 11 am and put the luggage in the luggage-room and went for roaming around the town. I wanted to show K the frozen sea mosly, the Isbanan , the frozen sea. There is an ice rink from North Port around Gültzaudden to the South Harbour and on to Gråsjälören.On the ice rink one can skate and kick. It is possible to walk on a “snötrottoar” for the entire route. Several shelters with barbecues are set up on the ice . It was snowing heavily, so we came back to enjoy the hot chocolate in the lounge.
At around 16.20, we walked to the station. While waiting, few men kept stalking us. I wondered what people say about 3rd world countries is as well true for Europe. Then a Swedish lady said, the police has tried to get rid of these muggers, but they keep coming back to the station premises. I chuckled thinking that the police is also same everywhere, never short of excuses!! Our train started at around 19 oclock instead of 16.37. Again they gave a sleeping berths. This night I slept better and when woke up, I saw the amazing play of sunlight and snow over the pine trees. Our train crew announced again the engine is damaged due to snow and we have to wait. Almost everyone riding with us already had missed their flight. In sometime, they said, the train will go till Uppsala in half speed using 2 engines instead of four, then we will get a new Engine. With all these train affairs finally we reached Stockholm, 26 hours late on Wednesday at 12 noon instead of Tuesday 10am. We took 3 day pass and headed for our hostel 😀
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