Abisko trip by Artic Circle Train

On May 2015, I traveled for the first time by Arctic Circle Train. I went up to Narvik in Norway, stopping by Abisko and Umeå. But I didn’t achieve my goal at Abisko. So thick was the layer of snow that I barely advanced one kilometer of the twelve that I had planned.

Arctic Circle Train, Train 94

In the evening of Friday 4th, I took train 94 in Stockholm Central station direction Abisko. After 1,200 kilometers and 17 hours of smelling dog – I booked quite late and I need to settle for an animal-friendly wagon – the train arrived at ‘Abisko turiststation’.

I had 24 hours to reach Abiskojaure mountain hut, pass the night and come back to take the train next day at the same location and time but opposite direction. With a snow-free exuberantly green landscape, it was easy to achieve. This leg of Kungsleden is well traveled, kept in good condition and with easy to follow marks.

After three hours of walking back to the station, I still had some time remaining to walk alongside Torneträsk lake. A frozen white plane in my memory from May now transformed into a deep blue lake.

Abisko Torneträsk lake

Tired but feeling in peace and connected with nature, I took the train back to Stockholm.

See more photos in my Abisko photo album

Trip to the south of Spain

Being December the harshest Swedish month with just 6 hours of daylight. I decided to pass it to a place where Sun will shine. I traveled from Barcelona to Cordoba on AVE, the Spanish high-speed train. It was my first time in the south of the country. So, I wanted to see as much as possible in one week.

Cordoba is a small city. In barely two days I was able to visit the most interesting places.

See more photos in my Cordoba photo album

AVE also covers from Cordoba to Seville. In downtown Seville, I visited Mercado de Triana, Royal Alcazar, and Plaza Espana.

See more photos in my Seville photo album

From Seville to Granada I traveled 4 hours by bus. After a typical cold morning at this time of the year, the temperature raised to a comfortable 18 degrees. I walked up Sacromonte and stopped by “Mirador de San Nicolas” to take some pictures. For dinner I went to different tapas places, all of them were good and cheap. They are chepear at least than in Barcelona, my birth town. And the atmosphere was friendly and vivid. My last day, I spent 4 hours in a must-do-visit to The Alhambra.

See more photos in my Granada photo album

I fully accomplished my goal of spend time on the Sun and I saw some extraordinary places as a bonus. Barely staying two days per city was enough to see the main landmarks. The next time I go back to the south, I plan to experience Granada with more calm. It is the city that I liked most, even that all of them were fantastic.

Traveling abroad

From two days to six months traveling abroad is an enriching experience.

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.

The Wizard of Oz

As I step down from the train I begin getting the flavor of the city. Usually central stations are situated in old town. So the first steps already give that feeling that mixes the familiar with the exotic. Buildings, stores, traffic signs are almost like at home but not quite.

As I pass by I like to take pictures of everything that comes to my attention. The first minutes all streets are interesting and every building a monument.

I arrive at the hotel to let go all the baggage. And there and then begins the learning of the most basic vocabulary of any city: the greetings exchange.

Greetings are human artifacts crafted on custom and reiteration. They are the formal way of acknowledging the existence of another being. Hej, Bom dia, Bonjour, Hi, Buenos dias. Learning the basics of greetings allows us to begin the integration in the heartbeat of any culture.

Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything.

Charles Kuralt

The first hours are all scheduled. All places have a list of must see landmarks. Tour Eiffel is the quintessential of all such places. Going by taxi or metro is never an option. Walking is the only locomotion that makes sense if I have any expectations on seeing the actual city. I will walk from the Palace of Westminster to Portobello Road Market. I will see the people, the shops and the city flow from Plaça de Catalunya to La Sagrada Família.

That doesn’t means that I will not take the urban transportation. From the efficient Stockholm T-Banna to the almost alive London Tube getting into public transportation is an experience in itself.

and let Thy feet, millenniums hence, be set In midst of knowledge

Lord Tennyson

Going to museums allows to know how people looks at themselves and how is their attitude towards the world. Reading about vikings at Etnografiska museet in Museiparken or looking at a vintage chair at Musée d’Orsay in La Seine riverbank gives a glipse of what was considered worth conserving or – at least – what has survived the pass of time.

peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none

Thomas Jefferson

Shopping from basic items on a super market to a caprice at a flea marked makes a new stream of words come to work. Tack, muito obrigado, merci beaucoup, thank you, muchas gracias. There’s always a word to describe the gratitude for completing a comercial transaction. And always there are numbers. Knowing the currency exchange rate is a sensible part of the experience.

And I will innevitable buy some kitch objects to bring home just to remember that I was there and then as gifts to friends and family.

A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.

Mahatma Gandhi

When the visit goes beyond a month and a half mark I consider myself a resident – althought a temporal one. After more than a hundrer hours walking arround, visiting places and acquiring remembrances all have changed. Now I will visit a street that I have never seen before but it will not surprise me. A beautiful building is worth a look but not a picture anymore. I will pass by Praça do Comércio without almost taking a second look when I go to buy groceries at the supermarket.

The new has become usual the exotic mundane. I will stop visiting Castelo de São Jorge, Puerta de Alcalá or the National Gallery. As by now I need time to see other places and have other experiences to maybe return back some day to the old places and see them with new eyes.