Ice to be 25

"Being an adult sucks" that was the thought I had over a year ago, as I was at the worst of all my countless jobs. A few weeks prior I had been watching a show with my mom about the ice hotel, which had long been on my bucket list, I asked her if someday she would go with me and to my surprise, she said: "sure someday." While at my miserable work, I thought of this and once again thought someday, and then thought of how we always say this. Yet, how quickly someday keeps slipping away. so I asked myself, "what did I need to make it happen?": time to plan and a reason to go and to convince my mom. It occurred to me I was just a year out from my 25th (yes that's a monumental birthday if I say it is) and my birthdays was in January the right time to go, so I just needed to convince my mom to keep her promise and see if my sisters or anyone else had the same dream. By February, my mom and sister Ali had agreed.

With the go-ahead, We started planning for real. I had already begun looking into planning it myself, getting everything in that I wanted: an Icehotel, the glass igloos hotel, dog sledding, snowmobiling, and on and on. With little to no knowledge of anything: many of the things I wanted todo were nowhere near each other, or I had no idea how to arrange things so far away in rural areas, it began to become complicated and expensive, I quickly found out travel agent's where the easiest way to go. I booked with Nordic Vistor and found the right trip, Northern Lights break. Using a travel agent also made it easier when we slowly added more people on first a good friend of my moms, then my eldest sister in spring and then in the fall, adding two more my middle sister and my eldest sister's good friend.

With a travel agent taking care of the logistics of Lapland, I wanted to look at rounding out the trip into a solid week. My first option was to go skiing, but between getting from Lapland to a European ski resort and then getting back to America logistically and time-wise didn't make sense. As logistics were critical, we chose between cities we could easily fly in and out with Delta, which boiled down to Paris, London, and Amsterdam as Delta's partner's European hubs. I had been to all three, but my sister and mom hadn't been to Amsterdam, so we agreed on that.

February 13th

Flight to Amsterdam- Thursday I flew from Salt Lake City to Amsterdam none stops, the only one from our group that's was flying from Utah was my mom's friend, Michelle.

Friday 14th

Arrive in Amsterdam- we arrived in Amsterdam before our layover to Stockholm. Mom and Ali flew in from LA. As I waited from them and trying to stay awake (did not sleep at all on the plane), I heard from mom, and Ali turns out they booked their Stockholm flight for the 13th (this foreshadowed more troubles) luckily after talking to few people in the airport they got on my plane.

Stockholm Sheraton- we finally arrived in Stockholm we made it to the hotel, where Sam, Jessica and Jess's friend Julie were already waiting. Having been in Stockholm before, I had seen how central the Sheraton was and had a friend who stayed there who loved it. Note: on our tour, we informed it was voted top three ugliest buildings in Stockholm, which isn't wrong. It's a very ugly facade but comfy and central.

Walking- after checking in, we all gathered in the bar, though, as I was desperately trying to stay awake, I had no interest Lollygagging around and begged to get out walking towards what I decided should be our first stop, the Abba museum.

Stockholm Medieval Museum- We stopped into the Stockholm Medieval Museum, which is free and inside an old underground aqueduct, which is cool to see.

Getting lost- From there, we walked towards the museum I decided as I had been in Stockholm three years prior for a total of 24 hours I knew exactly where we were going (I did not). However, I truly believe getting lost in a new city is the best thing you can do because of my directions leading us on the utterly wrong island. We took a water taxi across the bay to the abba museum, which ended up being the upside of getting lost.

Abba museum- one thing I had no desire to see my first trip but after one of my best friends had been obsessed with it, and as well as a coworker talked about how fun it is and the holograms you could sing with. I knew my sister Jessica would love the museum based on their slogan "walk-in dance out."Our main thought walking out was, "wow, they included every ounce of abba trivia ever known and thoroughly filled an entire museum, but just as fun as promised."

Spirit museum- Someone had heard about a spirts museum, and we all had to go. The museum comes with a spirit tasting at the end. The museum starts with a random art collection but then walks you through different aspects of sprits and making of them, including smelling experiences and facts about Swedish sprits and drinking songs. At the end we got our tastings and gathered around a high top to enjoy our first gathering as a group as cheered.

Night- did I mention I was tired? After the tasting, my mom and I headed back to the hotel to go to sleep, while the girls went to a bar and then to their dinner reservation.

Saturday 15th

Waking up- seeing as I went to sleep at like 6:30, so no surprise I was the very first to wake up which turned out to be a good thing, as I got a notification that the 8 am flight, Ali, my Mom and I were on, was canceled, and we were now on the 10 am flight with everyone else. Later, when Ali woke up and met me downstairs, and I told her what had happened, she then looked at the email and informed me that they had rescheduled us for a 10 am flight just the one yesterday (eye roll), which led to along time on the phone talking to the airlines, finally got us a refund for the original flight and we then booked the new flight for the new one only flight of the day to Kiruna.

Breakfast- our first breakfast in Sweden, we ate at the hotel, which had some of the best croissants and what would be a highlight throughout the trip Swedish pancakes well and just food in general!

Flight- now that we were all on the same flight we all went to the airport together and thus the final act of airplane problems we boarded the plane and then 20 minutes in had to turn around due to a problem and got back to Stockholm waited an hour before getting on a new flight and then reloading.

Arrive in Kiruna- When we finally arrived, we were met at the airport by a guide and loaded into the van (the perk of having 7 of us was that it was always a full van, so we never had to share).

Clothing- the first stop was to get gear at the tour headquarters. We were given the one-piece snowsuits, boots, helmets, gloves, Balaclavas, and hats. After we had all our gear, we reviewed our itineraries with a guide.

Camp Ripan- we were told camp ripan is the nicest hotel in Kiruna though we didn't have high hopes. The hotel was surprisingly cute and cozy. It consists of a bunch of cabins; each one has a main room with a tiny room off it with a bunk bed in it. Unfortunately, since our plane was late, we had little time to settle in like planned or explore the town, it's not big but cute; they had shops including an H&M, as well as a church we would love to explore.

Snowmobiling- we were picked up and taken to the snowmobiling site about a 20-minute drive. The snowmobile was set up to look at the northern lights, unfortunately, as they are a natural phenomenon and weather permitting (it snowed all day, but we were hopeful). The tour took us through the woods and up to a cabin where they set up a fire and cooked us dinner telling us about Sami's and the region. They made us reindeer stew and linden berry juice (this was the first of many). After dinner, we went snowmobiling back, luckily it was a little more direct this time (even though it was so funny it was freezing). even though it was exhausting it was the perfect kick off to the trip exciting but we had so much to come.

Sunday 16th

Breakfast- we were being picked up at 9 am so we all planned to meet up around 8:30 to have breakfast in the hotel reception hall. We were warned that lunch would be light and late. The hotel had a great spread of Swedish pancakes and linden berry jam as well as awesome fresh whip cream and a large assortment of other foods like oatmeal breakfast meat pastries etc.

Dogsledding- we were picked up geared up (highly recommend not having your snowsuits up and most gear still in your bag as it's a 20-minute drive). When we got to the dogsledding location, we had to wait a bit. There were dogs everywhere that were so adorable, so we "played" with them for a bit then were given instructions (a lot less than I expected) before long we were on our way. I soon learned the speed you went was the luck of the draw, as it's up to the dogs. That said, everyone agreed it was one of the coolest and most magnificent experiences of our life, some dogsledding companies just have you ride as they take you out, but we were able to actually able to drive. Though maybe the best moment was at the cabin and our guide said, "I'm so impressed a group of women would take a girls weekend and go dogsledding," though, him aside, the trip was perfect both driving and riding in the sled.

Downtime- When we got back, we finally had some downtime as we got back around two and had until 4. everyone was ready for a drink and something else to eat ( I can't even remember what they served us on the trip). It was a little late for lunch, but the kitchen whipped us up a cheese platter, and then I was bold enough to ask for french fries. They even whipped those up, entirely off the menu, and a real highlight the hotels Devore and lodging was great, but that right there won us over. I took the opportunity to take a nap while I had a chance while the others stayed and chatted.

Abisko- the drive to Abisko was about an hour, and we all end up falling asleep, which turns out our driver, the best Sami lady we had the day before as well, said it's an honor as you only fall asleep when you feel comfortable. We met the guide at the bottom lodge, where we walked a short bit (maybe 15 minutes) up to the ski lift. The guide gave a history of the area as we walked. The ride up the hill is long, and if we had been lucky enough to have clear skies and great weather, it might have been gorgeous; instead, it was cold, and nothing gets you cold like sitting outside for half an hour moving (burrr). By the time we hit the top, we were psyched to undress (our top layers) and get cozy inside.

Sky station- The sky station is really just an old ski hut (not some mid-century building the photos look like) though the food set up and the menu was beautiful a really interesting menu presented beautifully. Again reindeer meat or sams (pescatarian) rein-don't meat the best was the dessert if I may say myself. While we ate, we got a presentation on what the northern lights are scientifically (interesting but ruined that upscale feel). After dinner was viewing time, though, I was confident we wouldn't see anything given recent weather even so far out from Kiruna. But it was fun going up to the roof and laying on the snow looking up, hoping to see the elusive beauties, but no such luck. I was done we had until 11 we could stay, but anytime after dinner (around 8) you can ride down so by 9:30 I was ready to go get warm and head to bed (especially since there was still an hour drive ahead) by 10 I was able to convince everyone else and we all loaded up the van at the base of the chairlift this time (no walking needed).

Monday 17th