Alexey Moskvin

Baltic Exchange and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘lulea

Luleå to Umeå

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You know you’re in Sweden when people talk about driving snow mobiles and have mashed caviar spread for breakfast. But at least I learnt that å actually sounds more like o than a. After the loneliness of Finland and reservedness of Gällivare I am glad to be in the warmth of a friendly place. But saying bye to Cecilia and me and Jakob are setting off to see the Storforsen – a humongous current in the north east from Luleå. It’s not exactly on the way but well worth seeing.

Jakob’s object is vial of cyruped birch sap. It’s very nutritious and was done more as an experiment than anything else. He took it out of the freezer, the vessel has that white porcelain top with a rubber ring and a metal spring, but but the sap should keep for a while even if melted. That’s what makes the project go ahead – a little thoughtful artefact that tells a bit about Jakob’s thoughts.

In addition, Cecilia gives me a tiny felt rabbit she made. I’m not giving that one away.

We unwrap the gift from Santa Claus I give them – it’s a snowball. That anti stress thing that you squeeze hard when want to calm your nerves – it makes the sound of a real snow. It has a white rubbery slightly textured surface and Cecilia says it must be stuffed with rice. It’s pleasantly heavy and comfortable to hold.

Jakob’s bike is one of those dirt ones, caked in mud and with an extra large fuel tank wrapped around it. He kicks it into action. I’m thinking of ride we did with Jan in Pärnu along the coast as I avoid lumps of mud falling off Jakob’s bike and jumping on the tarmac.

Storforsen or ‘Big Stream’ (no shit) is a natural reserve. That landscape of polished stone and pine trees, where the rapid used to cover the entire area but now tamed and reduced to the stream. Nevertheless, it has an awe inspiring force. The wooden bridges and viewing platforms erected next to it are there to protect one but you can only feel it’s strength by standing on the rocks next to it. The energy, the unimaginable masses of water, the sublime natural force that makes you feel very small and feeble. The rock plateau underneath the clear sheet of water seems so near but completely inaccessible as the innumerable tons of water that pass there every minute would reduce you to vapour within seconds.

In the smaller streams and pools around the area people are swimming and jumping into from rocks. It’s extremely tempting but the time (and clouds) stand in our way – it’s about to start raining and we left our gear uncovered next to the bikes. We should rush back to the parking lot and cross the swimming off the list.

Some more palt stuff in the local cafe, followed by waffles. The rain really does it, we got there just in time. Books, films and the usual chat makes the time pass before we can set off again. On the way back we pass the village where Jakob grew up and say goodbye shortly afterwards.

I’m on my way to Umeå, wondering which way the clouds go and hoping we are not going in the same direction – the rain is still here. I’m getting quite late, so wouldn’t like to do much stopping. But do twice just to adjust my helmet, have some water and one of those pastries from yesterday.

The Myrbäck village consists of 6 houses, it’s about 20 miles away from Umeå. Tore and Anders are walking towards me with the dog as I clumsily ride up towards their garage. It’s a wonderful house, homely and stylish. We start with whiskey, just before dinner, later switch to wine, they even found some Kilkenny and I’ll have to think about describing the house tomorrow as tonight we are getting sloshed.

Written by Alexey Moskvin

25 November 2011 at 00:56

Gällivare to Luleå

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Not much else to do in Gallivare in the morning and after a walk I do end up in the same hotel for breakfast, amongst other slightly bored tourists. Regular breakfast, I’m getting quite used to those – ham, cheeses, pastries, fruit. Lots of coffee. And an extra apple to take with me. It became a routine – collect things scattered around the room, replenish the thermos and the squished bottle with water from a tap, stick everything in the boxes (thank heavens, Ioannis and BMW for the inner bags), strap the sleeping bag onto the bike, attach and adjust the video camera, check the route on the sat nav – all the waypoints are where they are supposed to be. Switch the ignition on and warm the bike a little. Ear plugs… check. Helmet and strap… check. Gloves on. Off we go… Oh, bollocks, forgot the glasses. Stop. Gloves off, glasses on, gloves on again. Now we can go.

The sleepy mining town of Malmberget. Stormy clouds are hanging over the Dundret threatening to turn the sunny morning into a very wet one indeed. But I can’t stay any longer to wait for it to pass, so just have to bite it and go.

The ore mining (research) destroyed the insides of the mountain and a gaping hole appeared in the middle of the town, growing each year and making more and more of the town uninhabitable. It looks scary on the map. In real it’s just confusing. Even my recently updated map shows roads that no longer exist – to go around the fenced area I have to go much wider than expected. I try east, west and south looking for a spot to have a view of the whole thing. Unlucky. I can see a glimpse of the pit but it’s hard to imagine the scale of things.

The clouds are here, starting a drizzle just as I go into a what used to be a mining community, now it doesn’t look much more than a tourist attraction. Still very charming. I buy a bag of sweet pasties from a lady for lunch. From now on, I’m moving towards home, my route is going south.

Sweden is spectacular. I’m waiting to get sick and tired of cliffs and pine forests but it never happens. For lunch I stop by the road and walk into the forest, towards the stream, waaaay below. It’s just rock and wood, with splashes of moss here and there. The landscape is filled with earthy colours, the surface of rock is polished with a recent rain, glistening and hyping up the contrasts. Water is running down everywhere.

Sweet pasties (I wish I remembered what they are called) and water. With an apple, heart of which I throw away, hoping that it might grow, diluting the evergreen forest with something more user friendly.

I’m in the suburbs of Luleå and very glad to meet Jakob. I haven’t had a proper conversation for a couple of days. I park in front of their house and we are discussing what to do – I’m happy to do what he wants, he’s the same. Very soon we dismiss dirt riding (thanks Jakob) – I’m definitely not feeling adventurous, and we settle on some easy riding. Which, in turn, would rule out Håkan but I have to accept the sacrifice. And shortly after we agree that a swim and beer might be the most appropriate for the evening.

Jakob introduces me to his girlfriend Cecilia, they live together in the first floor apartment. Cecilia is as quiet as Jakob talkative, they make a great couple. There is a massive dragon skeleton Cecilia made out of felt in their living room, she’s talking about her shop and other bits she makes.

I quickly cover their office floor with my bags. It’s still hot, after shower I change to shorts and we having palt with bacon and onions and lingonberry jam. Awesome.

Jakob makes his own beer. I’m jealous. Apparently, it is a smelly process, so there is no way we could do it in our flat, beer making needs some space too. The cupboard in their office is full of beer making stuff.

We set off for the local beach, with the bottles clinking in the backpack. Meeting Anna and for a drink, swim and fire.

Written by Alexey Moskvin

5 November 2011 at 01:19