Day Two: Sunday 11th August
Journey: Narvik, Norway to Boden, Sweden
The train between Narvik and Stockholm is what really connects the wary Nordic voyager with civilization down south of the Arctic Circle. We were therefore not newcomers to this line and had prepared ourselves well. The boredom of the twenty-hour, overnight route was to be dealt with using plenty of books, food and sheer courage.
While the first streak of the voyage went just as we thought, and was a great occasion to get better acquainted with the Tenth-century warrior/farmer/merchant/mercenary/poet/magician Egil Skallagrimsson, the voyage started to get strange when we reached the city of Galliväre, not far from Kiruna in Swedish Lappland.
Upon arrival, we were told to take a bus in order to reach Boden, the train’s next scheduled destination. Reasons set aside (It was some kind of accident if I remember well), this was quite a disappointment and we therefore went on to spend the next two hours staring at the void landscape of Swedish Lappland from the seats of an uncomfortably crammed bus. Still, the experience was quite interesting and the short peeks we had at the towns of Porjus and Jokkmokk revealed quite beautiful, if stereotypical Swedish settlements.
Once we arrived in Boden, another great surprised awaited us: our train had been re-scheduled to about 9 PM, roughly five hours after its original departure time. Left alone (Bar the hundred or so passengers that were in the same horrid situation as us) we decided to leave our bags in safety and wander around Boden in order to make the best of a rather annoying situation.
After finding food at a traditional Swedish restaurant (In this case, a Persian Diner), we managed, against all odds to find a map of the town and enter the core of the city. Since I have had the opportunity to visit Northern-Sweden before, I was content to see that Boden, despite being much tinier than its immediate neighbors (Luleå and Piteå) still had inherited the region’s traditional sense of tasteful urbanism.
Everywhere we went, we were met by flowers, traditional Swedish wooden houses, paved streets and mural paintings. The town in itself was quite calm, which is thankfully normal for a country town on a Sunday evening.
We realized quickly however, that in Boden there seems to be an interesting sense of local fashion. For the almost five hours we spent in the town, two elements seemed to repeatedly come back: Dragons, and fluorescent colors. The dragons, obviously inspired by the town’s beautiful Dragon-style train station, could be seen at almost every corner and plaza, often holding large flowerpots in their mouth. As if that wasn’t strange enough, many Bodenïtes seemed to particularly appreciate fluorescently colored articles of clothing. Shades of cyber-punk green, pink and orange were also extremely prominent in many of the town’s stores and facades. This unique (and unlikely) blending of two rather antagonistic concepts (i.e. dragons and fluorescent) made us think of a new nickname for the town: The fluorescent dragon capital of the North!
After a long stroll back to the station, and some more mind-warping train rescheduling, we boarded the Stockholm-bound train, now endowed with no less than six hours delay. We had the good luck to share our cabin with a charming Swedish family from Väster Götland and quickly went to bed.