Today is my final farewell to our magical days in the Swedish Lapland snow and all things winter. On our last two days in Sweden, we drove for miles, visited a tear-inducing, heartbreaking art show, wandered around in a blizzard and took a tour of the Tree Hotel with views from the top of the world and minimal interiors.The Dragonfly was my favourite – a rusty dream cabin up in the sky, with minimal furniture and views that make you stop and stare. It is a beautiful combination of wood, leather, metal and neutrals that compliment the landscape beyond.Back on the road, we headed south on the quieter roads to Bovallen (quiet as in – we basically had them to ourselves and passed only four other cars, bliss) and beyond to take in the scenery and yes we spotted our first and only Moose of the trip!We arrived in Boden to meet the lovely Hanna who gave us a tour of the unseen rooms at the top of Havremagasinet. One of the largest art galleries in Sweden it has an amazing history and proudly shares contemporary art dealing with themes and topics such as democracy, human rights and freedom of speech.This photograph is part of the Maria Friberg exhibit. This quiet and solitary scene shouts quiet a loud message don’t you think? I am sure you can all relate to her feelings of how the world is heading. Maria examines the themes of ‘the information age’s moral dilemma: how much is too much technology? And how can we continue our ruthless exploitation of earth resources’.I have to admit I do not visit art galleries often enough and I was not prepared for the emotions that the Knutte Wester show would unleash on me. In his art, Knutte Wester gives a voice to people who do not have the opportunity to make themselves heard. The stories behind the vulnerable figures he creates in bronze moved me to tears. I simply cannot understand how our world can treat people in the unthinkable ways it does. To know how these children and millions more like them all over the globe, spend their days in fear and uncertainty – rarely experiencing the sort of kindness that you and I take for granted every day. I want to scoop them all up, away from these situations that no person should have to cope with and make their days happy ones.The stories are heartbreaking and I couldn’t even stay to watch the end of the short films. Hopefully his work will be coming to London very soon so if you do not find yourself in Sweden I hope you’ll visit when it arrives in the UK – these really are stories that need to be seen and heard. It’s worth the heartache to learn all about the people underneath the bronze.Phew, my heart has still not recovered from that day. Just looking at these pictures overwhelms me, if I linger too long I’ll be crying all evening. So back out into the snow we must go. This time to Gammelstad Old Church Town – a Northern Scandinavian church town of more than 400 tiny red cottages with white doors.These beautiful little cottages were used on Sundays and during major religious festivals and are grouped around the medieval stone church in Gammelstad. The cottages served as overnight stops for parishioners who lived too far away to make the journey to the church and back in one day. A whole family or two would be packed into the tiny multi-functional rooms inside, all jostling for space in the modest cabin beds at night.As it was a quiet Sunday in winter when we visited, there were very few people around, and yes, people do still privately own most of the houses! Luckily we had an amazing and knowledgeable guide, Beatrice to tell us the history of the town and the area surrounding it. She snuck us into the church – which is closed for renovation and we got to go inside one of the cottages too.Once alone and back out in this winter air, we wandered up and down the snow drift covered streets (three feet deep in places). It felt like I must have stopped and snapped nearly every window, shutter and lace curtain in the whole town, on our quest to find the herringbone patterned door of number 84. Even sub-zero blizzard conditions won’t stop me when I have my frozen heart set on something!Okay then, one more window scene for the road. We couldn’t have asked for better weather conditions while we were there, the snow was thick and fluffy and on our last day, we were bid farewell with a gentle blizzard and then discovered a gigantic log pile on our way to the airport!Before I leave you, I thought I’d share the links for a few lovely shops we visited, artisan products you will love and other crazy things to see. I left Swedish Lapland with just a few modest purchases (I’m good now) – some magical Cloudberry facial oil from amazing natural beauty brand c/o GERD, a one of a kind pewter cup, that was made while we watched by the brilliant craft workers at Jokkmokks Tenn and a pair of Handknitted Mittens from Hantverksbutiken. I was chomping at the bit to get in the store next door too which sells the beautiful capes like Eva’s but sadly it was closed, and I also became quite obsessed with the idea of weaving Sami Bands at Stoor Stalka. For an amazing night out – have an early dinner at Bistro Norrland (the dessert was a work of art), then walk through the snowy streets and spend the evening it in a giant igloo with friends new and old – listening to Ice music made on instruments made of ice!
Be sure to check out Swedish Lapland, Visit Sweden, and Destination Jokkmokk – for more amazing places to visit and stay, they helped us plan our trip and we can’t thank them enough! Our return wish-list is already brimming with new things to do in Northern Sweden. I hope you enjoyed my snowy adventure – if you missed the other posts you can read them here – Part I – Part II and Part III. Have a wonderful weekend xxx