Stockholm (Sweden)

march 2001-january 2002


It was years that I thought to experience to live abroad besides just travelling for, at most, one month. The best would have been to carry out my thesis project for the university somewhere in Europe; given I'm fond of north european countries, I choose to try to apply for Sweden, and finally I was accepted. I was excited by the idea to leave my italian everyday life to dive in, what I was sure would have been, my life's most interesting experience.
Actually it was!


I got a room in the outskirts of Stockholm (in Lappis for those that know), sharing the kitchen and the living room with some guys (two sweds, a german and a france) and a bunch of girls (one from Kurdistan, two  armenians, one  greek, one france and two sweds). It was a mess but I had great fun.
I work hardly in the labs of the mechanical department freaking out to align lasers in the wind tunnel (P.I.V. for those that know).
I showed off  rollerblading with some friends in the main square in Stockholm every saturday till the temperature dropped below the 0 C, then I started ice skating almost every evening in the ice-ring in downtown.
And what about the travels:

IMPRESSIONS about the people

During these ten months Sweds wholly confirmed to me their reputation of reliable, serious and respectful people; I envy them for their respect to the wildlife and generally to the common things (they should teach it to italians). This, summed to a widespread wealth (few people with many resources), determines an average high standard of life, shown, for example, by the number of public services and their efficiency, incomparable with the italian ones.
Nevertheless, despite I strained, I didn't managed to have many friends and, trying to build friendships, most of the times I felt like bumping against a wall. I think it's just a different way to get in confidence in the relationships.

IMPRESSIONS about the wildlife

Concerning the wildlife for me living in Sweden has been a ten months long dream. I don't think I could be able to describe the beauty of the swedish arcipelago in the summer, or of the midnight sun that shines high in the sky even in the deep night. And what about the four hours long twilight that lights the snowy land in the north of Sweden during the deep winter?
Once I read that Stockholm is considered one of the most beautiful world's capital, I perfectly agree with it. Stockholm is amazing, no way to describe his islands, his parks, his shops, his international atmosphere...





Abisko (Sweden), Narvik (Norway)

5 days, june 2001 (midsummer)

It was few days before midsummer (23rd june, one of the most celebrated days in sweden), when, me and a swedish friend of mine, left from Stockholm to the north by train. It was almost 24 hours by a long typical train. Despite the duration, the travel was so nice: summer seems to transfer energy to people in sweden and on the train there was an uncommon happiness. Moreover through a "green house like vagon" I admired the suggestive green landscape during all the travel since between june and july the sun never dissapears below the horizon. The view gets more and more beautiful northward, especially when the train enter the Lappland and the Abisko area with its mirror like lakes. It's right in Abisko we got off in the morning and we started trekking in the Abisko National Park (see the map above). We had been trekking until the day after through all the night, walking on the snow, crossing cold (gosh, really cold!!!) rivers, but always lit by the sun light that, for the hours among midnight, was as orange as in a twilight. I'll never forget the amazing view of the midnight sun from the top of the mountains.




Kiruna (Sweden),  december 2001

It was years that I wanted to travel north of the polar circle in december when the sun never rises over the horizon. Hence in the middle of december I got on the same train that six months earlier brought me  there to see the midnight sun. But now everything was so different: the excitement for the coming midsummer (23rd june) of all the people on that crowded train running for 24 hours lit by the sun turned into the silence of an almost empty train lit at most for few hours by a twilight-like light. I got in Kiruna at 11.30 a.m. and I was amazed by the orange light reflected by the snow giving to the landscape a dash of unreality. This kind of light kept for 2 hours and I admired it while watching a snow-scooter race at the top of a hill nearby Kiruna. I remember the kids playing hockey in the frozen streets or in some of the several ice rinks, the old women pushing a kind of sledge to prevent them from slipping down and the darkness that at  2.30 a.m. had already covered everything.
The following days I visited the house of a dog sledge driver, friend of a guy known on the train on the way to Kiruna. Outside the house thirty beautiful dogs and all the equipment to travel in the snowy countryside for several days by dog-sledge 


I hitch hiked to the ice hotel (20 km from Kiruna) since the taxi-jeep was fucking expensive. I still remember me aside the street with the frozen thumb up praying for a lift while the cold wind was freezing up my face. I knew I had less than one hour before the darkness came up and frankly I didn't believe to my eye when a france guy stopped (maybe for sympathy) and let me on his car.
I really liked the ice hotel. I think it's worth a trip, even if I just visited it during the day, since sleeping was expensive (but not very expensive, at least for a simple room). They rebuild it every year at the end of november (it may take some weeks) and usually it melts down in April. Every year it is different and the rooms with their sculptures are carved in situ by international artists. The year I visited it, there were 66 rooms, one bar and they were building the church and the cinema. There were simple rooms, with just a normal bed or ultra decorated room, for example the one where the bed was a big ice vessel. The beds were blocks of ice covered by wooden boards on which were leant  the mattresses. As blankets there were reindeer skins, but to sleep you were also provided by a thick sleeping bag (the ones of the army). In case you sleep there, you are supposed to leave your luggage at the reception, that is a wooden (heated) structure outside the ice hotel. Then you go to your room with all your clothes and took them off only when you are inside your sleeping bag pushing them at the bottom of it. The temperature inside the ice hotel is between the -2 C and -9 C, but, I promise, you it's warmer than outside!!!!!! Hence the only non-iced stuff in the room are the wooden boards, the mattresses and a curtain as door. Also the glasses of the bar are ice-made, and you can use for three times before they melt. One of the most beautiful things I remember about the ice hotel was the landscape of the frozen lake where it's built. You can also have a bath in the swimming pool, just in case you feel too hot in your room :-))




August 2001  sweden

It was a week end trip the one in Gotland, but very intense. Reached Visby, I got struck by the beauty of such cute small medieval town with the wall skirting it, its cobblestone streets and the awesome ruins of the church. Me and my girlfriend decided to hanging around the island hitch hiking both since we didn't have much money and we were eager to test the local helpfulness. It was a pleasant surprise when we experienced people were so nice and helpful. We travelled two days in the north part of the island, and one half day we were taken by an old couple enthusiastic of driving us through the Gotland tourist highlights. For instance the rocks called ...... The sea erosion gave them funny shapes: like faces or like huge columns that seem to belong to the ruins of some ancient temple. This kind couple also took us to buy the smoked fish (in swedish: rok fisk), that we ate in front of our tent on the cost; it was delicious! My only regret was to have stayed in Gotland not enough to see the whole island, since I think it would have been worth; maybe next time!



  • When I was there (17 august) it was really hot (28-30 C); I sweated a lot. Don't underrate it! In winter it's warmer than  the mainland but wholly desert

  • In July and in the first two weeks of August Gotland is crowded of Sweds spending their vacations. I think it gets too much touristy. Fortunately I was there immediately after this period

  • Gotland is perfect to be visited biking or you can rent a scooter in Visby. It's quite cheap, especially if you rent a big one and   share the expense with your fellow




15 days, July 2001

Stockholm archipelago (Sweden)

Stockholm archipelago is amazing: a labyrinth of thousands of medium-tiny islands where you can wander plunged in the wildlife with, in summertime, a 20 hours daylight. Living in Sweden thereby I could not miss the chance of renting a kayak and exploring this charming world; it was the middle of July when me and my girlfriend prepared all the needs for a 15 days travel: a tent, food, water, petrol ring, maps, compass,...and we left towards the open sea. I hardly forgot the sunrise from the sea horizon I saw one morning getting up at 4.00 am. Moreover among all the islands we zigzagged,  I fell in love particularly  for that called Moja. It's one of the biggest, where there're  no car, left alone some funny three-wheels moped, and just one paved road. It seems in Moja time froze 30 years ago. I got so charmed, that I came back 6 months later in the middle of the winter when everything was covered by a fifty cm thick layer of snow, all the creeks  frozen, the 20 hours of light turned in few ones, and all the windows  lit by the typical swedish christmas lights. The island seemed fallen in a kinda of hibernation, waiting for the far far next summer.