The weekend two weeks ago it was fog, that made my morning promenade along the river Umeälven special. Yesterday it was snowfall. As you can see on the three photos, the snowfall weakened more and more and most of the snow thawed away during the day. But it was a another beautiful reminder for the next winter to come.
The first autumn colours on Gåsören
21, 22 September – Annika and I are invited by Solveig and Tommy to their summer cottage on Gåsören. Tommy picks us up by boat and after a short cruise we arrive at the small harbour, where Solveig already waits for us.
We have a wonderful evening with delicious food (hand-picked porcini mushrooms!) and inspiring conversations. And the weather is just great – first a blue and sunny sky, then after sunset a starry night. After a short nightly walk to the lighthouse – built in 1912 and still active – we go to bed.
The next morning I wake up early and take photographs of the splashing waves at the eastern shore. It’s a bit windy and the temperatures are near freezing. A lot of trees still have green leaves but some of the birches and rowan trees have become colourful, especially when illuminated by the low morning sun.
After breakfast we take a stroll round the small island together before we get a lift back to the mainland. Tack så mycket, Solveig and Tommy. We are looking forward to meet again!
Fog by the river
28, 29 September – I’m with Annika in Umeå. On Saturday we make a trip to Strömbäck-Kont, one of our favourite locations by the sea. Again the weather is sunny but due to the frost of last week’s nights a lot of more trees show coloured leaves. Especially the bright yellow birch leaves look wonderful.
On Sunday I wake up early as usual and take a promenade along the Umeåälven, one of Northern Swedens largest rivers. The morning air is damp and chilly and the landscape is fog-shrouded. The fog muffles all sounds and noises and gives me the impression of being completely alone. Half an hour later the fog goes away and the magic is gone.
Yesterday, 2 October – at 3:00 I’m awakened by storm squalls shaking the house. I almost expect that my house is lifted up and lands on the Wicked Witch of the East. But the gale is no tornado and my house resists the squalls.
The weather doesn’t come completely unexpected, both wind and enormous amounts of rain have been forecasted. But as usual the forecast was – ahem – imaginative but at least the wind speeds are quite accurate.
Hail, sleet and snow
Today, 3 October – again I’m awakened at 3 o’clock, this time by a hail squall drumming on the window. It’s round 3 °C and even colder at 7 o’clock on my way to work. Between my home and the town another rain squall buckets down. It is mixed with wet snow. Beside the road I can see white patches. Is it snow or last night’s hail? When I arrived at the office at Solbacken outside of the town of Skellefteå I see, that it’s snow grains – tiny frozen white balls.
At 8:33 I look through the window of my current office room and it’s snowing. The first snow on 3 October – exactly the same date as last year. Now I’m longing for winter even more ❄︎ !
This article is part of the series “2019-07: Southern Sweden”.
July 31 – August 1 – Grövelsjön, Röros, Flatruet, Ljungdalen, Stugun, Åsele
After a tent night in Grövelsjön (temperature minimum 5.7 °C) I take a morning stroll with several purposes: enjoying the fresh air, taking pictures and buying fresh bread for breakfast. My promenade starts at the “troll workshop” where guests are welcome to build their own wooden troll and place it beside the “troll trail”. From there I can spot some “wintry things”: a prohibition sign for scooters and red crosses marking the winter trail. I follow the red signs over a bog until I come to a road from where it isn’t far to Grövelsjön’s mountain bakery.
Annika and I have breakfast in the mountain lodge. Hm, the Brötchen are extremely delicious!
Actually I have planned to take a bath in the lake Guevteljaevrie nearby. The water was very clear but the car tires and metal scrap at the ground discouraged us.
You may realise that the name of the lake doesn’t look Swedish. You’re right. We are not only in Sweden but also in Laponia – the area of the Sámi people. Therefore towns, rivers, lakes and mountains have two names, a Sámi and a Swedish one. The Swedish name of Guevteljaevrie is Grövelsjön, as the village.
A small part of the lake is on Norwegian territory and Norway is our next destination, hardly 10 km away. Soon we are at the border.
We already met reindeers on the Swedish side, in Norway however they seem to be more numerous and they love to block roads.
In the lake Femund – Norways third largest lake – we catch up with the bathing. 13 °C in the water, much warmer in the sun. A nice place to relax.
Two and a half hours later we are in Røros. In this old mining town one could stay for days and write long articles. We however stay only for two hours. Just some snapshots:
After filling up the car we follow a small gravel road that leads us to a Norwegian mountain hut – a possible accommodation for the night. 2.5 km before the hut the road stops – at least for cars. Our luggage is chosen for travelling by car, not for hiking. So this hut that even may be fully booked is out of bounds. Will we find a shelter for the night?
Next morning we wake up in a bunk bed in our hostel in Funäsdalen. Of course we found an accommodation, not in Norway but in Sweden. After breakfast we pack our things – a daily routine – and start the next daily stage.
In Mittådalen we take a spontaneous stop. We have just crossed the river Mittån and spot a Sámi resort with souvenir shop. Beside the river there’s a kåta, a traditional Sámi hut. The word kåta is Swedish. The Sámi have several related languages and so their names for this type of dwelling vary: goahti, goahte, gábma, gåhte, gåhtie or gåetie.
We buy some souvenirs and continue. Soon we reach Flatruet, a place I’ve been especially looking forward to. Flatruet is a plateau above the tree line with a gorgeous view to all directions.
The last photo above shows the Helags massif with the Helags summit (1797metres above sea level).
I’ve been there in winter 2006 on a ski tour with J. and T. . It had been very stormy for two days and one of the huskies was so scared that she hid under the bed. We decided to abandon our ski tour. We skied to Ljungdalen where T. waited for a lift to Fjällnäs where he parked the car. Hours later he came back and we took the car over Flatruet. I had never experienced anything that looked as arctic as this snowy road leading through an infinite white void. Here’s a photo that I took from the car 12½ years ago:
That’s the reason why you should visit all Scandinavian places at least twice. In winter they are completely different than in summer.
Back to present: I hardly can tear my eyes away from Flatruet but we have to leave. It’s at least 400 km to Åsele, our today’s destination. Some more stops on the way – some of them caused by reindeers again.
In the evening we arrive in Åsele. Here we will visit M. and F. and stay overnight. Before dinner there’s time to cuddle some sheep.
Now we’re almost home. To Annika’s flat in Umeå it’s only 164 km and another 130 km to my house in Skelleftehamn. “Peanuts” compared with the long distance the last days.
Next day Annika will be home again and the day after me, too. What a wonderful journey!
This article is part of the series “2019-07: Southern Sweden”.
12 July, Jogersö—Gränna—Bjärnum
It always seems to be the third night in a tent, when I got used to the camping mat and sleep very well. Nevertheless I’m looking forward to a real bed. Annika and I dry the sleeping bags and the tent in the sun and have breakfast. Half past nine we start our journey farther south. We have to drive 413 km, mostly on the E4, the very same European route, that connects Umeå, Skellefteå, Piteå and Luleå.
Here it connects Nyköping, Norrköping, Linköping and Jönköping. While å stands for river, köping means market town.
We stop in Gränna, a town by the lake Vättern which is Sweden’s second largest lake. Here’s a large campsite, a lovingly designed minigolf course, a ferry to the island Visingsö and – most important for us now: several restaurants and ice cream shops. Children are wading in the water, grown up are sunbathing on the public benches, the place is touristic but not crowded.
There are nice bathing places along the coast of the Vättern, so we bath twice, first in Röttle, then near Sjöbergen. Since the Vättern is so large you can think that you bath in the North Sea or Baltic Sea – until you taste the water. It’s fresh, not brackish or salty.
Röttle has another attraction besides its bathing place: there were severals water mills. Here we stroll around for a while.
After our long break we continue our car trip southwards. We cross the border to Skåne, the southernmost part of Sweden. In the evening we arrive in Bjärnum.
You see the light behind the front window of the house? That’s our place for the next days.
A word to the title of the article: Sweden is divided into three parts: Norrland in the north, Svealand in the middle and Götaland in the south. The population density in Götaland and Svealand is more than ten times as high as in Norrland.
This article is part of the series “2019-07: Southern Sweden”.
10 July, Turku
Our second (and last) Finnish stay is Turku, about 300 km south of Majors, our last stay. Here we meet Karen and Family. Karen is an active blog author and it’s the first time that we meet her in real life.
Annika and I arrive in the afternoon and have a nice and relaxed evening. The only thing we have to do is to put up our tent in the garden. The garden is small but our tent fits.
Karen and the children have summer holidays, but the daughter is away. Her husband has to work, so it’s Karen and her two sons with whom we spend the next day.
After breakfast we take the vesibussi – the water bus, part of the public transport system. We take the normal bus into town and walk along the river Aura until we reach the pier for the small boat.
I love to explore a new town by boat or ship. The weather is warm and sunny and Turku looks beautiful which its combination of new houses and old castle – old sailing ship, restaurant raft and modern racing yachts.
We take the boat to the island Runsala were we take a long walk. We cannot access the whole island because of a music festival a week ago. The area is still fenced, but there are many other ways and paths leading back to the boat stop. I really admire the tall leaf trees with their huge barky trunks, especially the oak trees. We do not have such home in Västerbotten.
We take the boat back to town and the bus to the china restaurant Yangtze. Great, delicious food and some dishes I never tasted before. Recommendation!
Later that day we take the car to Vähä-Joumo, a nice bathing place with a sandy beach, a bathing raft and – most important of all – a Finnish sauna. Countless times we jump into the water, swim to the platform and back or warm up in the sauna.
It is quite late when we finally return to our host’s home, where we eat dinner – fresh bread with a huuuge bowl of salad – and talk until Annika and I crawl into the tent again were we quickly fall asleep.
Thank you Karen, Vidal and children for a nice stay! It was great meeting you and you’re warmly welcome in Västerbotten on the other side of the Baltic Sea.
Karen’s blog: Suomalainen Päiväkirja | Live aus Turku (German)
Yesterday evening. We are at Storbacken near Vuollerim in Norrbotten, where we visit friends. They live in a house by the large river Luleälven. It’s a bit chilly outside but we still sit there, enjoy the fresh air and try to ignore the first mosquitoes.
I haven’t planned to take pictures but the warm evening light on the forest on the other side of the river becomes more and more intense. Two whooper swans paddle along the river. And finally, half an hour later there appears a rainbow and hovers above the Luleälven like a huge airy bridge. Beautiful!
This morning. I sit in the living room while the fire in the fireplace warms up the room. Outside it’s 3.5 °C and it has been raining the whole night and the whole morning. That’s two of the many sides of Sápmi, the region of the Sámi people.
Four pairs of looking-through-the-window photos and a bonus proof photo
I’m sitting on my bed of room 223 in the Clarion Hotel “The Edge” in Tromsø. I’m here to join the Barents Press International Media Conference that will take place tomorrow and the day after. We from Skellefteå took a car to Haparanda at the Swedish-Finnish border already yesterday. Today we took the bus to Tromsø.
I took photos through the bus window, all with my Nikon D750 and an old 70-210mm/ƒ4.0 lens.
Pair 1 – along the river Torneälven
The Torneälven is the border river between Sweden and Finland. We drive on the Finnish side of the river. Almost all snow has melted and the river is ice free now. Sometimes large walls of ice floes lie along the riverbank.
Pair 2 – moorlands
We already have crossed the Arctic Circle. The coniferous forests are behind us and large moorland frame the road. It’s windy and temperatures are hardly above zero. From time to time it snows.
Pair 3 – winterland
The more up north we travel the snowier and more wintry the landscape becomes. We pass Kilpisjärvi and are in Norway now.
Pair 4 – fjords and mountains
Fjords and mountains – both are typical for Norway. And both can be seen from the bus. A lot of other participants have never been here before and the Oh-s and Ah-s do not stop. And they are right, the landscape is both beautiful and impressive. (… and quite unphotographable from a driving bus.)
At 7 o’clock we departed in Haparanda, at 17 o’clock we arrive in Tromsø. Later I make some pictures from the roof terrace of our hotel. A Hurtigruten ship with the ishavskatedralen in the background. Take it as a proof, that I’m really in Tromsø.
Today I had a meeting in Norrbotten, Sweden’s northernmost län (county). It was the annual general meeting of Barents Press International, a joint network of journalists in the Barents Region. I joined this organisation a few weeks ago and took the meeting as an opportunity to meet members of Barents Press in real live.
The projects presented at the meeting were really impressing. In addition to that the people were both very friendly and extremely interesting.
The meeting was in Avan near Luleå, 150 km from here or as the Swedes say: 15 miles. The name Avan rang a bell, but it took a look on the map to remember that it’s the place where Annika and I had used the ferry to cross the river Luleälven in May 2015. And later that day we had been forced to wait before a bridge, where people tried to get out a ship with a crane. (It didn’t work.) After a long time of waiting we had been able to continue the tour.
But back to today. It’s 2 February, -18 °C and the Luleälven had been frozen for many weeks.
I had left the E4 and drove the road to Avan. It was picture-perfect weather. Everything was covered with soft snow. It was snowing gently and since it was quite early, the snow looked still a bit blueish.
Some hours later – we had finished the meeting and went upstairs to have fika. This Swedish coffee break took at least twice the time of the official meeting, but fika is anything between 15-30 minutes (most common) and open end …
While we were holding fika and it was still snowing the sun came out. The sunlight made the scenery look even more beautiful. What a gorgeous view the house owners have!
Half past twelve I thanked the hosts and left Avan. I had got an idea: I remembered that there was an ice road crossing the river in wintertime. I was not sure if it was open but it was not far away. I drove there and right, the ice road over the Luleälven was open.
It had stopped snowing and the sun was shining. I parked the car and took some pictures (and was annoyed with myself that I only took the small camera with me).
I saw other cars using the ice road, otherwise I wouldn’t have dared to cross the river, which still is a river with water under the ice. Flowing water. Ok, let’s go …
And so I have got my ice road premiere today. Check ✔︎. I took some photos on the other side and decided to drive back again because I prefer the southern road which I came from.
It was still sunny but clouds had started gathering in the south. While I drove back south it got more and more cloudy. When I made a stopover at my favourite Thai restaurant in Skellefteå it was quite windy and my mobile phone displayed a message:
Warning class 1 snowfall Västerbottens … Snowfall which from Sunday morning to night to Monday can give 20-30 cm. In coastal areas in combination with fresh northeast wind. Snowfall contin…
Later there were the first snow showers. Let’s see, what will happen tomorrow.
After photoing the lunar eclipse this very early morning I went into bed again and took a long nap. After that I actually wanted to work but the weather was so fine that I took the car looking for photo motives. Temperatures below -20 °C, a clear blue sky and all birch trees covered with rime – that’s ingredients for a beautiful winter day. While I was looking at the white birch trees I got an idea. How would it look like at the dam in Bergsbyn where there’s always open water downstream.
I drove there and parked the car. Indeed the trees by the river were covered even more with hoarfrost and rime. I walked along the river through knee-deep snow. Beside of some animal tracks the snow was untouched. Strange, that I was the first one that went along the riverside since the last snow one week ago.
The open water was smoking with cold and frozen fog blowed along the river. It covered the opposite riverside and partly the sun as well. Small ice floes drifted by. The river is quite fast here. Hardly imaginable that the river upstream is completely frozen over.
I experimented with the fisheye lens. It will take some time until I get used to it, especially when the light situations are as difficult as they were today. I do not like these white spots where the sun is but today it was hardly avoidable.
A new year has started – this time with warm, grey and stormy weather. I didn’t take many pictures because of the dull light but this one I think is a bit funny. A fisherman completely dressed in red stands on the riverbank of the Skellefteälven, giving the scenery it’s only bright colour.
I wish you all a happy New Year 2019!