Arctic Adventure (1)

February 4, 2009

Me Photographing the Ice Hotel

Me Photographing the Ice Hotel

Suzanne, Ele, Magnus and I piled into our fabulous V70 Volvo station wagon in Barents Blue Metallic with state-of-the-art snow tires and a GPS navigation system at 7 am, beginning our Great Northern Adventure to the Arctic Circle. It was a long day of driving – taking approximately nine hours, with very few stops – most were bathroom breaks. The Swedes have these funny single ladies toilets with a miniature toilet for tots. We made it to the northern-most mining town of Kiruna at 4 pm. Our one big stop en route to Kiruna was at the Arctic Circle itself. There, we performed and filmed our homage to Lawrence Weiner’s “Abridgement of an abutment to on near or about the Arctic Circle” in Canada in 1969. Weiner used an empty package of cigarettes – “whatever is at hand.” We used a Playtex tampon. (This might not have been the best choice, however, since it blended into the snow what with its white plastic packaging). I also made a pee flower. Once in Kiruna – an industrial mining town – we checked into the Samegården, a comfortable unpretentious hotel and cultural center Suzanne found for us. After a quick freshening up we drove to Jukkasjärvi to see the Ice Hotel and a small 400 year old church with a special Samì alter mural and organ. The Ice Hotel did not disappoint. It glowed like an over-sized blue-tinted ice cube in the velvet slumber of the Arctic night. We did a self-directed tour before meeting up for a round of drinks in the Absolut Ice Bar. All the Hotel rooms we saw were unique. Each one was designed by a different artist or artist collaboration. After a few Absolut martinis served in ice glasses in the Ice Bar (Ele ate hers after she finished her drink) we walked out into the frigid cold to see the Jukkasjärvi church – to have a tour of the church, learn about the alter piece (designed and built by a Samì artist), and see the church organ. We learned that the Jukkasjärvi church represents a sort of a meeting of cultures since Swedes, Fins and Samì worship there and have done so for centuries. The organ made in Luleå – with its unique keys of reindeer antler, each one engraved with different Samì symbols – underscores the overlapping of peoples and cultures. The church organist gave us a tour of the church and played some traditional Samì songs on the organ. Suzanne made of a video. For dinner, we trouped to the Ice Hotel restaurant. Sadly, it was a tad disappointing. By 10 pm we were the only diners in the expansive (and expensive) restaurant. But the food was delicious – at least mine was. I had perch pike for dinner and we shared desserts including an unusual plate of elk cheese ice cream. For dessert, I imbibed a large glass of Baileys. Yum.

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