Exciting meetings in our Arctic winter
15 June, 2018|
Guide Göran Wallin writes;
Winter and snow are an important reason for travel for many guests coming to Brändön Lodge during the winter months. Frozen sea, northern lights, cold, being in the wild and exciting activities are other things that attract.
It is a privilege to work as a guide and meet interesting people from different parts of the world. What is every day for us is many times the adventure for a family of children from London or a rainy countryside in Wales.
It’s about nature experiences far from the alley ways and streets of the big cities. On the question of why they are looking north, the answer often becomes – we want to see the real winter with snow, cold, the dark sky with stars and northern lights, and be out in the woods and on the frozen sea.
Guests have traveled for a few hours and sometimes a full day to come to Luleå and Brändön Lodge. It takes a while before they understand how far north we are. Curiosity takes over and questions about everything possible. What does your daily life look like, how do our schools work, do schools close when there are minus degrees?
The most difficult is perhaps the questions about the climate, when it’s minus 20 now and trying to explain that in less than three months it will be ice free and sunny. That’s when the picture of the beach in the Lodge comes true. Göran Widén has a summer image in the entrance to Brändön Lodge. The picture shows a crowded beach with people swimming and sunbathing.
It’s an evening in March, minus 20 degrees, star-clear and we’re going to head for the northern lights. Four adults and four children from southern England settle in the scooter’s sled underneath the warming blankets. We drive out on the ice and our goal is Black Island a few kilometers across the frozen sea.
We start a fire and warm drinks at the grill at Black Island. On the way home, we will stay out on the ice to see if there is norrsken. The cold is being felt, and I tell the group that they have to run a bit to keep warm.
There was no northern lights this evening but the experience of the Arctic night is great none the less. There is a lot to see in the night sky, the star of the stars, the constellations, the winter street and perhaps a passing satellite. Many are fascinated by being able to see the night sky without disturbing background light.
Most of our guests are interested in wildlife and reindeer they have seen at Brändön Lodge and then it is natural to talk about reindeer husbandry and Sami culture. There will always be interesting conversations and it’s nice to speak about our region.
Conversations with the guests can take any turn. A family from England with three generations, grandmother, mom, dad and three children, I remember it well. It often begins that we as guides tell something related to Swedish Lapland and Brändön. This time we did not go so far on our snow shoes before we found a nice place between snowy trees where we could get a glimpse of stars and maybe northern lights. We dug a pit and made fire.
When we had finished the initial discussion, the conversation landed on Brexit, Trump and much more in that way. It was interesting that in a daily conversation, their views on these world policy issues in the framing of the fire’s shine against the snowy forest.
We always offer boiled coffee, tea or chocolate. This focus on boiled coffee that we make over open fire is a new and exciting phenomenon for many of our guests.
A fun small guided tour in recent times included a grilled sausage with a group from Shanghai. It’s hard to say what was the most exotic – the sausage or winter weather?
The family with his son from New York, the couple from Kuwait, the family from London and many more, thanks for all the exciting conversations.