Abisko is so far up north and west that a mere hour and a half on a fairly slow moving train gets you over the border into Narvik, a beautiful port town in Norway. We found out later that this area is home to some of the most scenic fjords of Norway, the Ofotfjord, surrounded by mountains 4500 feet above the ocean.[Earlier parts of this series : 1 – Getting to Stockholm | 2 – Towards Abisko | 3 – Dog Sledding, and finally seeing some auroras ]
The town of Narvik, being over the mountain range that prevents rain clouds from reaching Abisko, gets plenty of precipitation, and ample snow during winter, as you can see from this picture below :-)
During the entire train ride, we were glued to the windows taking in the breathtaking winter wonderland that lay ahead. And as it so happened, this entire train journey was unplanned – we hadn’t heard about it before, and were doing it because we heard of someone else at the hostel who’d done it the day before, and recommended it. What a fantastic idea it turned out to be!
Little villages with less than a dozen homes, frozen lakes, bare trees weighed down by snow, sunlight making the mountains glisten.. Here are a few dear memories of the winter landscape between these two arctic villages.
In Narvik, we walked away from the train station towards the waterfront, as we didn’t know where else to go. The houses we walked by all had long, dripping icicles hanging from their roofs and windows, sometimes a good foot long. We walked down to the fjord and peaked into the crystal clear, aquamarine blue waters filled with life underneath. The waters were so clear that right by the shore we could clearly see starfish, coral and other aquatic life wandering about. After taking several pictures and nearly getting numb, I headed into the only little café open that morning. It was filled with old men animatedly discussing something in brisk Norwegian over cups of coffee. And, on the little makeshift stall, there were delicious looking breads, cakes and other goodies. I was particularly drawn to the highly healthy looking crispy bread (or more like a biscuit) made entirely of seeds (!!) and a highly unhealthy looking roll of almond, fresh cream and blueberry cake. I instantly ordered it before realizing that I had no Swedish or Norwegian Kroners on me. The café would not, as luck would have it, accept credit cards or Euros. Oh boo! I was actually looking forward to it. Disappointed, I moved away to watch Uday through the windows, still out there looking around and photographing. Then the lady who makes the cakes surprised me by saying, “here, would you like some coffee? I can definitely offer you some..”. I politely declined, and was smiling to no end to think she would even do such a thing.. And then before I could say a word more, she loaded up a plate with that delicious-looking cake and handed it over to me saying “here, no harm done. Enjoy!” Oh… and was it yummy! So much so that when I saved up a few bites for Uday, he liked it enough to convince her to take the 5 Euro note we had and pack for us some of that biscuit and cake and Norwegian cheese along with it. Such generosity – we felt it several times all over Sweden. People were friendly, helpful, generous and genuinely warm. We met several people going out of their way to help us. Just made the entire holiday so much more memorable.
Below – a few pictures from Narvik :
On the way back, we breathed in all the beauty of the winter snowscapes that we could hold, and eagerly awaited what the evening had in store for us. Would the clouds clear up? Would we see the skies light up? Until the next part ![Earlier parts of this series : 1 – Getting to Stockholm | 2 – Towards Abisko | 3 – Dog Sledding, and finally seeing some auroras ]
Fabulous scenery! When I came to Auroville in 1990, some used to call it green desert.
Now you have been to white icy desert and beautiful people of that desert! Such pictures
people keeps in their studio and drawing rooms while you were actually physically there, seen with your own eyes. I can imagine how unforgettable it must be for you. Compliment, Udya and Priya.
thanks for your comment, Aryadeep – white icy desert indeed & people actually live there.. through-out the train journey there were little villages and sometimes not even a village – just a house, as this image below shows. Out of an imaginary story book :-)
Hi, May i know what train did you took from Abisko and alight at which train station of Narvik? Is Narvik worth going? I will be going to Abisko to catch the Northern Lights in Jan 2015..
By the way, a very nice write up on the trip! :)
Hi Elfie, thanks for your encouragement!
There is only 1 train station in Narvik, and you will not miss it as long as you’re awake :-) Even if Narvik doesn’t interest you much, I think it is worth going just for the beautiful scenery en-route – we felt this was a second ‘highlight’ of our trip to northern Sweden, apart from the spectacular northern lights. That aside, there’s only this much you can do during the day in Abisko (and the days are short in winter). You can find the schedule of the train for your dates from here : http://www.scandinavianrail.com/scenicrail/sweden/arctic-circle-train There’s plenty of space on the train, so I wouldn’t suggest buying your tickets just yet – you can buy them at Abisko or on the train. Good luck, and if you write about it, do please share your travelogue!
Hi Uday, thanks for your reply! Really appreciate that!!
Just another question, you didnt stay overnight at Narvik right? But you managed to get the early train to Narvik and late train back to Abisko? You are so lucky!
However, i just checked the train schedule, for the dates that i am travelling, the train coming back from Narvik is in the early afternoon and the train from Abisko to Narvik reach around early afternoon too and there is time overlapse.. Dont think i can go to Narvik unless i stay a night over there..
Thanks alot for your help anyway! :)
Happy to help, Elfie.. we actually took the early morning train from Abisko (I think around 8am), reached Narvik at 9:30-9:45am, and we had about 2 hours in Narvik before having to take the return train to Abisko at around 11:45 or so from Narvik. 2 hours seems very short, but it didn’t feel so bad considering the train tickets were very cheap & we had just enough time to walk around the harbor area & through a part of the city – and pick up some Norwegian pastries :-)
We seem to have reached Abisko back at around 1:15-1:30pm, so we had plenty of time that afternoon/evening. This is what the camera timestamps tell me, and it sounds about right from what we remember as well.
Based on the schedules you’re seeing now, it sounds like timings may have changed – but it could also be that all the info is not correct online. Maybe just wait till you go there, and see what the timing & frequency actually is. Another idea would be to consider spending the night at Narvik, it will be a different experience from the nights at Abisko, and the large bodies of water could make interesting compositions against the northern lights. During the day you could walk around and try and find out where you’d like to be at night to photograph the auroras. Yes, there will could be city lights and you may have some haze coming from them too, but they could all be made to help your photographs.. In short – I’d still try & go to Narvik !
Thank you so much for your detailed reply! :) Okie well noted and will consider your suggestions! Maybe i will stay a night in Narvik, still in the midst of planning my itinerary..
nice work on this post Priya!! loved your adventures!!! I’m also excited for my Abisko trip this December and recently just booked online for that Narvik day trip!
So happy to hear :-) I’m sure you will have a lovely day out !
Hi Priya, these are really great pictures! I will be stopping by Narvik on route to Abisko, and am planning to check out the place for a few hours. How do I locate the waterfront town in Google Maps? Also, would you happen to know if there are luggage deposits at Narvik station?
Hi Justin, thank you ! this should be it (link below). Don’t know about luggage deposits, I’d say don’t trust any online resource & try to call the station directly OR the Norway tourism office… It Is a really small station so I wouldn’t bet on it, but you never know – things may have changed. The walk from the station to the waterfront isn’t that long so if you have just a backpack and a cabin bag – worstcase – you Will be able to manage. If you can, do please let me know what you find out, would be a great resource.. thanks & have a great adventure !