2/18/2007 07:41:00 am

I want to go dog sledding. Right now.

Since we started talking about/planning our Kiruna trip last week I've been doing some reading about the things you generally do in Kiruna. And to be perfectly honest, the answer is, that apart from the Ice Hotel, there isn't really much there. That doesn't bother me too much, because for me the train trip almost the whole way up the length of Sweden and into the Arctic Circle will be part of the adventure (for all of us, otherwise there'd really be no point going). I'm really hoping that we get lucky with the weather and see the Northern Lights too.
We had done some preliminary budgeting and were thinking that it was feasible to spend 1500 kroner, which is approx $270 AUD, the breakdown being ~800:- for the return travel, ~150:- for one night at a hostel, 100:- for our entry to the Ice Hotel, and then the remainder on food and alcohol. We could get the train for less if we opted for seats rather than a 6 person sleeper compartment, but it's 17 hours each way...so..you know, we thought that the sleeper was well worth the extra money.

Things started to get a bit more expensive looking when I decided to look into what else we can do on our Swedish Lappland excursion and quickly realised that dog sledding could possibly be the most exciting adventure in my life to date. Ever. And maybe into the future as well. Especially because get to go to the kennels and play with the husky puppies before you help harness up the dog team and slide off into the snow with fully grown huskies. Huskies huskies huskies!!! I'm so excited!!!!!

The only drawback is that it will cost at least 800 kroner, ~$145 AUD, which blows the budget out of the water. The more I think about it though, the more I realise that there's probably only going to be one point in my life where I can go on a dogsledding Husky Safari (their words, not mine. Oh! See how their canny marketing sucked me in!) in the Arctic Circle, and that's now. When you think about it, it's less than a lot of stuff (read: crap) that I spend my money on, and surely there is some reason I spent the last year working my ass off and saving up my money? That reason was Husky Safari.
I'm ready to mush.

Oh, and one other thing on the topic of obsessions (soon to be retitled "I'm not really sure how I feel about Swedes"): queueing. Everyone always makes jokes about how the Swedes love to form queues, and it's more true than I could have imagined. You go to the bank, take a number, wait in line, get to the front of the line, get told that you should have taken a green ticket not a red one, go back to the ticket machine, realise that the instruction to take a green ticket is written in Swedish, take a ticket, and get back in line. You go to the pharmacy, take a ticket. The bill-paying place. The bus-pass refilling place. The list goes on, they even have little holes in the counters where you put your used ticket.

At first, I thought it was hilarious, and now it's become generally more routine. But I've realised that the reason they have ticket machines EVERYWHERE is because Swedes are incapable of behaving like normal people (so much of me wants to end the sentence here) when it comes to waiting without order imposed. Actually, if I digress for a moment, I think there's a theme here with the need for order to be imposed: don't even think about crossing the road on a red man, even if there's not a car/bicycle/husky in sight.
If there is no ticket machine and you are waiting in a queue, you actually have to stand, well, decisively, because if you look for a second like you aren't in the line, people just walk in front of you. There's no "are you in line", or a look over the shoulder, they just pretend you aren't there (which, incidentally, is how they act when you need to squeeze out the door on a bus, or when they barel into you in the street). And it's like you have no right to challenge them because you're just another stupid foreigner who can't speak english and wasn't standing in the queue assertively enough. It happened to me the other day at the post office (and just as a side note, the post office is a counter in the supermarket where they also sell hot dogs, hmmn): I stood back a little to let a person with a pram go past me, and in the nanosecond that I was slightly displaced from line, I had lost my place because someone had walked in front of me and slotted in.

I know you must be thinking, "so why don't you say something?", but my answer to that is that the thought of having to tell someone I was before them whilst trying equalling to sound polite but assertive, and at the same time as feeling like an arrogant bastard for speaking english in Sweden and being terrified that they're not going to understand me anyway (and DO NOT even get me started on wilful misunderstanding!!!) is just a bit too much. The end of that particular story is that I managed to push back in front of him just as he made it to the top of the line instead by getting really close to him just as he approached the counter and then angling my body in front and smiling at the clerk, hahaha. Apparently, according to my Swedish corridor-mate Johan, I handled it just like a Swede.
Which is all well and good, but why can't they just find the end of the line like normal people?!

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