Twenty one people are sitting in a bus heading towards Kalix. Among those twenty one are people from all over the world: Finland, Sweden, Germany, Russia, Belgium, United Kingdom, Spain and even Australia. They are journalists and they are writing stories about the Bothnian Bay and all the things they will experience during their few days in the area.
While the beautiful Swedish countryside flashes past the windows of the bus, it’s time to tell you about the amazing trip.
The journalists arrived in Skellefteå on Saturday morning. It was easy to gather the group together in the small, but convenient airport. As soon as they landed they were taken to the center of Skellefteå to watch the Swedish Open Winter Swimming Championships.
Before the competition started, the host welcomed the Finnish national ice swimming champion to the arena. He felt the freezing cold water with his hands and shouted ”Perkele!”. Then suddenly there were men walking towards him, all wearing black suits and serious faces. It turned out, that the Finnish national champion of ice swimming wasn’t who he claimed to be after all. Instead, he was Petri Sirviö, the leader of the Mieskuoro Huutajat, a choir of thirty shouting men from Oulu. The choir ”sang” the Swedish national anthem ”Du gamla, du fria” and many other winter themed songs. People were confused at first, but at the end they enjoyed the performance.
Then the swimming started. One after another the participants managed to swim 25 meters in the 0,4 degrees water. Many of the journalists were cheering for their friend John Lule, the 18-year-old Ugandan guy who was away from his home country for the first time. He swam the freezing 25 meters very fast and he finished second on the whole competition.
After lunch, the journalists climbed the stairs of a bus and headed towards Gammelstad of Luleå. Journalists toured around the beautiful old church town and were invited inside one of the cottages. It was owned by this elderly couple Per and Sonja Sundberg, who offered some knowledge about the cabin and some warm lingonberry juice. The cabin was very cozy and warm although it didn’t have running water. Candles on the walls and a fire in the fireplace made the finishing touch and the experience was perfect.
Nobody wanted to leave the cabin, but the schedule was tight. Journalists were taken to see a concert. Not just any concert, but one with an ice cave, ice instruments and ABBAs music. The band was called Icing Queen and the instruments were really made of ice. The instruments required a bit more tuning than regular instruments, because of the cold air of the ice cave, but the sound was genuine and everybody enjoyed themselves. Despite the cold air and the snow, the feeling was warm and happy.
After the concert the journalists were ready for dinner and the discussions were interesting as they compared their experiences from the first day of the trip. In the morning they headed for Kalix, Haaparanta and Kemi, but more about that later.