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A week or so ago, I was sitting in a train heading from Stockholm to Kiruna in Swedish Lapland with a party of Spanish friends. We were on our way so see the Northern Lights and, as you can imagine, we were full of excitement.
Outside it was minus 26 degrees Celsius. (Incidentally, this way of measuring temperature is named after a Swedish guy.)
We were hurtling towards our destination when our train broke down and stopped. The temperature inside the train began to edge down from cosy to worryingly cold.
Fortunately, the staff were well-prepared and brought heat-reflective blankets to keep us warm.
Even better, being Spanish and knowing how expensive wine is in Sweden, we’d packed some bottles of wine. Being Spanish, we know how to turn everything into a party.
We opened a bottle or two, had a picnic and even ended up outside taking photos.
I can smile about this now but, at the time, it was pretty cold. Especially for a Spanish guy used to living in Ibiza.
But I couldn’t complain. Unlike some of my friends who miss the beach and heat so much they head for places like Bali or Brazil for the winter, Christmas for me means snow and I’d gone searching for the white stuff.
When I was living just north of Barcelona, which doesn’t see much snow if any, I used to head up into the mountains to ski.
Now, although I’ve had some great Christmases with friends in Ibiza, I still love to head for the snow.
And I was delighted to be heading for for Sweden’s northernmost town to have some fun in a winter wonderland with a group of friends, while hoping I’d see the Northern Lights in all their beauty.
Fortunately, after two or three hours, the train was repaired, and we were on the move again. Relieved, and warmed by the wine, we were in a great mood.
We had a great time in Kiruna, which is a centre for all kinds of winter activities such as skiing, snowshoe walking, dog sledding and, my favourite, zooming across the snow on a jet ski.
Apart from the pleasure of being with my friends in a place as different from Ibiza as you could possibly get, it was amazing to see the Northern Lights. They were truly beautiful and, oddly, very Christmassy.
Written by Hector Piñol