Arctic circle

Getting here isn't easy. In fact, it's damn near impossible. You can spend a lot on one of the few daily flights, you can shell out even more for a boat, you can drive for 17 hours, or you can get the once daily overnight train from Stockholm. The train apparently fills up pretty fast. Fast enough that I was sitting in a chair for the whole thing. No couchettes left. No wifi either. But there were plugs which was nice. So two years ago, camp's most infamous meal happened. It happened thanks to me and my co-counselor. This co-counselor had to leave halfway through that session because he his mom is swedish and they visit the country yearly. While I was sitting in my seat, he walked by. He wasn't going all the way to Narvik, but staying in Sweden somewhere. He invited me to his couchette for a while until he and his friends went to sleep. What a small world. 

After sleeping for like four hours at best, I woke up. It was bright out and I thought it was late and all this travelling was catching up to me. Nope. It was 3:30 AM. That was disorienting. I tried to go back to sleep but couldn't. Oh well. After a while longer, we reached Narvik and I was free. Narvik is far north. Like really far. It's in the Arctic circle. Fortunately in the summer it gets to a toasty 60ish. Good thing I still have all my warm clothes from May. The first thing I did upon arriving was climb the mountain. Narvik is very nicely located on a wonderful fjord. So nice in fact, that the Nazis tried to get it because it didn't freeze over so they could use it to import iron. They succeeded in that task. But more important than it being a good spot for importing crap, it's absolutely gorgeous. Long, deep, protected by gigantic mountains. The town of Narvik is effectively at the back of the fjord too, so it offers a wonderful view of the whole thing. Climbing another mountain was so fun. My favorite part was climbing through snow in my sneakers. How many of you can say they've thrown a snowball in July? I can. I can also say I've climbed a snow capped mountain. And I did it totally unprepared and in khakis and sneakers. Fortunately I remembered to bring my nice windproof jacket. Because at the top of a mountain in the Arctic circle, it is cold and windy. But damn they got some views from the top. Seeing the town a kilometer below me, seeing the fjord from a kilometer up in the air. It truly is a beautiful thing. And even though I stared my climb at like 5:30, I wasn't worried about not being able to see on my way down. Because the sun never sets. I called it an early night thanks to the whole four hours of sleep thing and went to bed. They have wonderful blackout curtains. They need them here. I slept for nearly 12 hours. That was nice. 

When I woke up and looked at my clock, I honestly didn't believe it. I checked my watch and phone and they all agreed. I thought it was either a conspiracy, I was going crazy, or I actually slept for 11.5 hours. I decided to go with the most likely answer and say I slept for 11.5 hours. Narvik isn't really a touristy place. There isn't a crazy amount to do, especially on a Sunday. The Narvik WWII museum is open on Sundays. It is a really cool museum. As I mentioned above, Narvik was important in WWII. The fjord doesn't freeze because the gulf stream, it's deep, and there is a rail line connecting Narvik through Sweden. Strategically it is a strong place. Nazis we're all over that and in 1940, war came to Narvik. Nazis took over swiftly and easily, their ships sinking the two Norwegian ships protecting Narvik allowing only one of the two ships to fire any shots, and that one that did only got off seven before sinking. Soon the British came with the poles and french and ousted the Nazis, pushing them towards the swedish border, but left and allowed the Nazis to get Narvik back. The museum offers some really cool information and has some awesome things from the war, including a lot of things from sunken ships. There was a bit of armor from one of the strongest battleships that was in the fjord during the war and it was easily a foot thick. Probably closer to a foot and a half. They say it took five tries to sink the thing. At the end of the museum there's a section about the future and refugees and things. All in all a really cool museum. Other than that, not much to do. The tourist information office suggested bowling as an activity. I decided to walk around finding my way down to the harbor. Not the industrial harbor but the little one. I can add going into the Arctic ocean to my bucket list and check that off, even if it was just a finger. It was cold. 

4 AM from the train

19 hours later I'm free

Closer to the North Pole than a bunch of places. 

There's a cable car that takes you partway up. You've got to climb the rest. 

Look at Narvik chilling down there

Some deep snow I had to walk through. 

That's a gigantic shipping boat down there

This was like 10:30 at night. Little statue about rising from chaos or something. 

The museum had a little projection about what happened in 1940. White is Allies, red is Nazis. 

Ah poor planning by the Nazis. Warms my heart. 

Big torpedo used to sink boats. This is an unexploded one. They had a pic of some kids sitting on it on a beach. I never realized how big these things were. 

The part about where the future is going. This is a real tank from WWII from Paris I believe. 

Narvik from the harbor. That water is cold. 


Where I had breakfast

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