Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Kiruna: How long did you say?

Leer: "Kiruna: ¿Cuanto dijo?"

From Göteborg to Kiruna the trip takes 20 hours, that begin in a modern X2000 (3 hours to stockholm) and continues in a couch wagon, not as modern, to Kiruna.

Kiruna is the biggest municipality in Sweden, and in the world. It has, however, the lowest population density. It is located beyond the polar arctic circle, and so north it is cold. Really cold. Obviously there are not that many people dreaming about living there. Despite this, and following the policy in Sweden about sending national processes to the less populated areas, some processes are centralized in Kiruna, including traffic fines and TV taxes.

There are other reasons to live in Kiruna. An important one is the iron mine. The iron that pushed the industrial development of Sweden, that is an important revenue for the country even today, and that was sold to support the Nazi Germany during world war II. But that's a long and complex history, and I'll talk more about it after visiting the mines.

The first notorious event, for me, was the snow, the real one. Down in Göteborg snow is a joke. Only a few millimeters each time, and don't last. But here the snow stays, and everything around is white, so white that it looks like the sun rises earlier.

A short walk from the train station to the hostel is a totally new experience because of the snow in the ground and the snow falling, and it makes me realize how cold this town really is. After checking in the hostel I can say the trip is over, and now it is time to enjoy the place.

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