Janice Issitt                    Life and Style

travel, interiors, photography, home, crafts, personal style

15 Dec 2014

Saint Lucia, Snow and Sweden

The countdown to Christmas has begun with the first Advent candles now being lit all over the world and none more so than in Sweden where every window is lit with a star or advent candelabra.  So put on your armour of light and fend off the darkness.  This year I was lucky enough to be in Sweden for St. Lucia day, the 13th December.  The roads had candles burning on the central reservations and in the shopping centre were young women dressed in white dresses with red sashes. The lead girl wears a crown of candles as this is also the shortest day of the year and thus it is a festival of light. 

My lovely God-daughter dressed up for me in her Lucia dress and crown of candles. 

St. Lucia is one of my favourite Scandinavian images and this year I hung a painting (by an American artist known as Audrey Eclectic) over my fireplace. If you have seen my home in Homes & Antiques January issue you can spot it.

For two days of my trip I popped up to Kiruna in Sweden (which falls in the Arctic circle) for some snow, and despite their being less snow this year than previously, it did fall to minus 24 degrees and there was no daylight at all.

The lack of daylight made photography very difficult but the weather was more of a hindrance in this respect as you have to wear such heavy special clothing that you can hardly move. 

Kiruna is a mining town and quite industrial, the smoke from the mines chimneys chugs away all day and night (not that you would know the difference).  Unbelievably the whole town is going to be moved in 50 years as they need to mine for the steel and iron underneath it.  The lack of light, and coldness added to the rather film like quality of the place, not so much in a pretty pretty way but more spooky and akin to Fargo.

We did a small amount of walking and between our hotel Camp Ripan above and the town we found some lovely older houses in gorgeous pastel colours. 

this house is empty with windows missing but seems to be undergoing some restoration.

this pale pastel yellow is a favourite colour for the houses 

I like the colour combinations on this house.

pink and yellow offset the Swedish flag on this property

the window lights are so welcoming,  I particularly like the candles on the window ledge.

We had one of these little cabins and to get to the main hotel had to walk down here. 

I had to considerably lighten this picture. It was taken quite early in the day.

And then there was the Ice Hotel. Mmmm a bit of a sore point with us. Due to open two days after our visit it was basically a building site with no signs of being ready. They charged us for a very lame tour and then left us stranded with no food or drink waiting for a bus in sub sub zero temperatures. 

It will take some convincing to get me back there.

In the Ice Hotel reception Rachel gets stuck in to lending a hand.

reindeer skin and antler doors

A corridor which we weren't allowed to go down.

The bar of the hotel is separate this year and in this round dome.

looking down towards the Ice Hotel from the car park

The ice is harvested from a local river and stored like this.

the bar where we didn't have a cocktail in an ice glass

the main hallway

I didn't get any photos of us dog sledding, that was quite an experience, being pulled by 8 huskies through the snowy forest and across a frozen lake. Not for the faint-hearted it was quite a basic way to travel and pretty scary.

As for the Northern Lights, well we did see a glimmer but not the full green illuminations. Strangely everywhere we went people said they had just seen it earlier! We think they were exaggerating.  Heres the thing though, they could start from around 4oclock and go on until late, you would have to sit outdoors away from town lights for many many hours just looking at the sky and in those temperatures you need to be pretty determined.  Perhaps I will try another time. 

Hope you enjoyed my little round-up of photos to join with Audrey Eclectic on her St. Lucia parade of blog posts. 

More photos later in the week of my special Christmas bargain finds from the charity shops. 

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