We left Hans and Karins on New Year’s Eve to head west to Åre. Åre is a ski town in the middle of Sweden, we were told it was the place to be with people coming from the UK and Stockholm to spend their weekends skiing whilst staying in posh hotels and ski chalets so we thought we should give it a try and enjoy ourselves there and see in the new year in style.
We wasn’t let down, we had a great time we started the night by eating a meal at a restaurant called the frozen Mexican followed by copious amounts of beer at a really cool bar named Broken, which had been running since the early 90’s, from there we went to see in the new year with the rest of the revellers on the main square, a count down and fireworks blasted across the sky and before we knew it, it was 2019 from there we headed to a swanky club and danced into the early hours.
The next morning, feeling rather fragile, we had to escape the hustle and bustle of the town and head to somewhere a little more remote. We headed for a spot on the map next to a large national park close to to border with Norway and wasn’t disappointed, we spent two nights in the car park in the middle of nowhere only being disturbed by the odd snow plow and cross country skier.
We woke up refreshed from a couple of days rest and decided to explore the nature reserve, Robin noticed a small town dead in the middle of the reserve named Vålådalen and upon arriving we were greeted by the quaintest little hotel/hostel and ski resort from which there was an abundance of activities you could take part in, from ice fishing to snowshoeing they had it all.
Following that we had a pretty rough night, the temperature had warmed up and it had began to rain and there was a speedy wind battering the van all night, Although it was nice for it to be slightly warmer the rain and the wind played havoc with the roads, smoothing all of the snow into sheet ice making each journey more and more difficult.
We headed to the local waterfall which was the largest in Sweden, it looked like the one from the beginning of twin peaks, with that and the surrounding fir tree we had the theme tune playing in our heads the whole time we were there. It was a good trip out although the paths were a bit of a death trap the scenery was beautiful and it was good to see some of the sights in the local area.
When we left the waterfall we headed for our next camp spot, the sun had long since gone down, and driving on dark roads when its so icy is always tricky, We turned into a small side road and immediately knew it was a mistake, I could have got out my ice skates and skated to oblivion. It clearly hadn't been gritted or plowed, so rather than risk turning in the road and sliding off into a ditch we carried on, hoping to find a more level, larger turning ground. All that greeted us was more ice, and a huge wall of snow. As we tried to turn the van slid rather helplessly into the ditch running alongside the road. Luckily by chance, a man was loading up his 4x4, with his huskies and his sled, and he managed to pull us out of an icy ditch, not once, but twice. Steve, we will forever be in your debt.
We made our way to a lay-by which we knew we could get to, we had a good nights kip and in the morning we felt refreshed. We had to pick something up from karin and Hans, just a Haynes manual sent to me from my brother after we broke down along with some products for us to photograph. it was nice to see Karin and Hans again and after that we were on our way, we had to head south again, we had booked a pair of flights back to Gatwick, to surprise Robins dad on his 60th birthday so we headed towards Ostersund-Are airport to see if there were any decent camp spots and to explore the local area a bit more. We found a small town named Lit, it had a huge church which we camped next to only to be awoken the next morning by its ridiculously loud bells. we had planned to do nothing. We tidied the van, did some housework and put on a pan of soup for dinner.
The next morning we woke up and Decided to make our way from the Lit further towards an island named Froso, near which was a nature reserve and possibly our best spot yet. it was stunning, there was a single track road flanked either side by a couple of rows of trees and then a huge frozen lake surrounding us on both sides.
We found a great spot just next to a lake, put on our ice skates and went for a skate, it was beautifully quite with the odd creak of the ice under our skates. The warmer weather allowed us to enjoy the outdoors a bit more. We woke up the following morning and went for a run along the shore of the lake and managed to fly the drone and get some great shots of the van. We were also kept company by a wood pecker, who rattled his head for most of the morning on the nearby dead trees.
Because we loved the nature reserve so much we decided to stay a second night, it was snowing heavily and we had the fire in the van roaring with some of the fallen wood collected from the surrounding woodland. We really felt at home in the van and wouldn't wish to be anywhere else.
After the next morning we headed back to Ostersund Camping, the campsite with the really nice toilets and showers, to spend the night, it was nice to be able to have a shower and get our things ready before our flight home. We got some work done in the van and the next morning we left for the airport to spend the weekend back home with the family.