A Wake-up Call in Abisko

Abisko From the Window
Abisko From the Window

This was how I got my wake up call in life. And I got it during my trip to the cold and frigid Abisko, Sweden to chase the beautiful entrancing aurora borealis. 

Since then, I have quit my robotic choreographed life, sold my stuff, went back home and have been preparing to travel the world. I will update this article on the results of my amazing life changing decision.

“Amazing, isn’t?” I looked up and see Klas coming in. He’s still at it. Putting up Christmas lights and decors around his guesthouse. I saw him putting up the Christmas lights outside yesterday. Today he is finishing up here inside.

“It will be much more beautiful tonight, when the Aurora comes up from there. The aurora starts to appear from the north. And that’s where the north is.”, he said, pointing at the mountains at the window. “Join the aurora hunting on snowmobile tour tonight. It will be worth it. You’ll see.”

“I will definitely join!” I replied excitedly. “Wouldn’t miss it for anything! That’s what I came here for. To see her.” Referring to Aurora Borealis.

“OK, see yah tonight!” He picked up the extra wreath lying on the floor and some tools and started to head out the door. I heard the door close with a slight hush of the snow and it was all quiet.

I went back to my window view while sipping my hot green tea.  I am here now at the dining hall of Abisko Guesthouse, my home for the next 3 days. I woke up early to catch the sunrise on my first morning here in North Pole and this is what I get. A view of gray clouds, white hills, white highway, leafless skeleton bushes and a white sidewalk. Totally white wilderness. I was up and about at 8AM and it was still dark. I wonder what the locals here do at 10AM on a weekend. I have been sitting here at the dining hall for a while with my morning tea and I haven’t seen a single creature pass by. The fresh snow from last night is still undisturbed and looks so fluffy. So quiet that I thought I was going deaf.

Abisko is a small village seated in northern Sweden, has only about a hundred population  and is just 1 hour drive away from Tromso, Norway.  The Abisko National Park is about 10 minute walk from I stay and is bounded by the scenic lake Torneträsk in the south and surrounded by neighboring hills.

I call this the land of extremes. In the summer, you will be under the rays of perpetual sunlight, the so-called midnight sun. In the winter, you will be under trance of the aurora borealis. It’s totally a different place, like a parallel universe, where white wilderness is traversed by snowmobiles and dog sleds.

Abisko Sweden
Abisko Sweden

Klas came back in this time to do some cleaning around the dining hall. I guess he’s done with putting up the Christmas decorations for the entire guesthouse.

“Is it always like this?” I asked. Looking back at the window. “Where is everybody?”

“This is pretty normal.” He said, still moving about, rearranging the chairs in the dining hall. There are about 4 dining sets around. There’s also a couch and a coffee table where the free ginger cookies are.  He turned one of the chairs to face the couch I’m sitting on and said, “When I first came here, I had the same feeling. It’s peaceful, quiet like a ghost town, where everyone knows everyone. And everyone is cheerful all the time. I fell in love with this place. I decided to leave my job and put up this guesthouse. This is where and what my passion is. Never looked back ever since.”

“What was your job then?” I asked, slightly shifting my seating position so I could face him.

He smiled and casually said, “I was a civil engineer. From the city.”

“What?” I asked, surprised but admiring his guts. He sat down on the couch. We talked for another 10-15 minutes or so about the aurora and the tourism here in Abisko. How he is thankful about the internet boom for now he can promote his travel and tours online and people are now more informed about the aurora borealis. And next thing he knew, seeing aurora borealis was on every traveller’s bucketlist or itchlist or what-have-you-list! 5 years ago, winter in Abisko, is like the apocalypse scene from The Walking Dead because everyone is trying to escape the sub-zero temperatures.

“Gotta check the reception again. See yah tonight at the aurora hunting. We start prepping at 7PM, OK?” He stood up and turned to me waiting for me say something. “Yup, see yah!”. I said. And he was gone. The sound of silence at it again.

I got up, went to my room and suited up for the -10 degrees that we have today. I grabbed my camera and head out the door. My first snow walk.  I can’t help smiling at the funny feeling every time I squish my shoe. It’s fresh snow on my feet!

I head out to lake Torneträsk which is about 5-minute walk from the guesthouse. I chanced upon a guy riding his snowmobile. He waved at me, I waved back and took a quick snap. So that’s how people move here. Snowmobiles. I reached the lake and see this marvelous spread of steel-gray icy water bordered with white hills before me.

Abisko Lake Torneträsk
Abisko Lake Torneträsk

I stood here for a while. Breathing all this beauty in. Seeing that no one is around to see me do some foolishness, I balled up some snow with my two hands and throw it in the air with all my strength, aiming at the skeletal bush. Another one coming your way, you skeletal bush. Slooosh!

My thoughts went back to the conversation this morning with Klas, the guesthouse owner. Talk about passion and loving what you do. I think I just had an epiphany right here, from the conversation I just had. It’s a sign. He quit his job that pays the bills, that provided him security and comfort, to live his dream, to do what he wants. I need to do that. I must act on what I really want to do. I have been working in the IT industry for almost 26 years now. Its about time to change that.

I think it’s about time.  I think I need to start planning. To slowly lay the groundwork for what I really want to. To live my dream of being a travel writer. And it is here in Abisko that I got the sign. Like a wake up call.

The only way to do great work is to love what you do. -- Steve Jobs Click To Tweet
Getting to Abisko Sweden

There are many ways to get to Abisko Sweden. But what I took was the fastest route. Fly into Kiruna Sweden from Stockholm and take the train from Kiruna Central to Abisko Ostra. Only 2 airlines fly to Kiruna from Stockholm, SAS and Norwegian Airlines.

Daily passenger trains operated by Scandinavian Rail connect Stockholm with the Norwegian city of Narvik, this train stops at Kiruna C, Abisko Ostra and Abisko Turistation.

Abisko is also reachable by car via the highway E10 which has linked Kiruna and Narvik which has a scenic mountain route.


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Add Your Comment
    • Lawrence
    • November 23, 2016

    I enjoyed this article. It puts me in Abisko, Sweeden. Now i must see it. Nice pictures too. Thanks!

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