Sleeping on Ice

An ice bed

A night in an Ice Hotel in Swedish Lapland seemed like an unforgettable way to celebrate a special birthday.

The adventure was eagerly anticipated but tinged with trepidation. It was impossible to imagine sleeping in temperatures of minus 5 degrees on a bed made from ice.

We opted for the unconventional husky sled transfer from Kiruna airport to the hotel in Jukkasjarvi. I’d had visions of an elegant sleigh pulling us gently along with us all being ensconced under fur rugs. The reality was very different.

The huskies getting ready

On leaving the small airport terminal, we were greeted by loud barking huskies and taken to a nearby shed to prepare. We donned enormous all in one ski suits over our normal ski clothes, black terrorist type balaclavas topped by ‘Deputy Dawg hat’ with furry ear flaps. Black leather boots and long leather gauntlets completed our outfits. Our luggage was put into enormous sacks and transported by road in the vans which had delivered the dogs. We were not an attractive sight and apart from height, you couldn’t tell the four of us apart.

Not a glamorous look

We sat astride the long, low wooden sledge in height order with the tallest at the back, our feet tucked on the runners. The twenty dogs got into position: in pairs and in line according to experience and age. With a ‘mush, mush’ we were off. The dogs were obviously very fit and ran surprisingly fast. In places the track was rutted or steep and it felt like being on a roller coaster.

There was snow everywhere and the scenery was breathtaking. After 40 minutes, my toes started to feel chilly and I was grateful to see the hotel in the distance. It was absolutely stunning.

Checking in at reception

On the introductory tour, our guide told us that each year the hotel is sculpted from ice cut from the Torne River. Everything, including walls, ceilings, chandeliers and beds are made from ice.

The ice chapel

The ice chapel

There was even a chapel for weddings with a difference and translucent sculptures everywhere. The unique ice suites were all different and sculpted by different artists. One had a telephone box, another life size statues of the four Beatles. Our suite was amazing; a ‘room’ within a ‘room’. It included a small hall with ice benches covered by reindeer skins and a staircase leading to a mezzanine bed.

The carving of an animal

Day visitors are banned from rooms at 7pm and we were able to open our duty free champagne, which was obviously well chilled, in the privacy of our room. Dinner in the main hotel was excellent with desserts served on plates made from ice. Fortified by nightcaps from the Absolut Icebar we felt that we couldn’t put off the inevitable any longer.

We changed in the warm area and walked the short distance to our ice room dressed in pyjamas with snowsuits on top. After safely negotiating the stairs, we shed our snowsuit and boots and wiggled into our double sleeping bag (with individual liners) without standing up because the ceiling was four foot high. Not the easiest of tasks! Probably because of the effort involved, I slept considerably well despite waking at one stage feeling rather warm and claustrophobic!

We were woken up at 8am and served hot lingonberry juice in bed. The adventure was over. We had survived and thankfully my main fear had not been realised: I hadn’t needed the loo in the night!

The hotel information was absolutely right: it was an “ice-night to remember” but probably one not to be repeated.

Sweden Wins Eurovision 2012

Last night, Sweden won the world’s largest televised non-sporting event, the Eurovision Song Contest. Loreen won convincingly with her dance anthem “Euphoria”. voters all over Europe supported this new single hit with 372 points and undoubtedly we will hear her voice in the radios all over Europe now. This year the contest took place in Baku, Azerbaijan.

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Loreen performs Euphoria

Russia with Buranovskiye Babushki and their song “Party For Everybody” became second with 259 votes, followed by Serbia’s Željko Joksimović and their song “Nije Ljubav Stvar” with 214 votes.

The Russian entry was a departure from the usual performances by younger singers in song contest. Buranovskiye Babushkithe or the “Buranovo Grannies” (the group’s name in English) and their ethno-pop song was popular with the voting public as it was both fun, entertaining and unusual – as you can see from their performance below.

The UK entry sung by Engelbert Humperdinck ended up second to last place with only got 12 points for his performance of “Love Will Set You Free”. Last year’s more popular UK entry from the band Blue reached 11th place when the Eurovision Song Contest took place in Düsseldorf, Germany. Judge for yourself whether Europe was right not to give more votes for Humperdinck’s ballad style song by watching the music video below.

The Norway entry received the fewest votes and they came last in the song contest.

The show was shown on television all over the world and millions of Europeans followed this event which has been designed to celebrate the diversity of all the nations on this continent. Next year the contest will be taking place in Stockholm, Sweden.

The winning entry Euphoria is currently the song that has received the most 12 points under the current voting rules of the Eurovision Song Contest being awarded 12 points by 18 other participating countries. Sweden recieved points from 40 of the voting 42 countries.

Enjoy the YouTube video of Loreen’s winning performance in Baku and again, congratulations Loreen!

Image reproduced from http://www.francesoir.fr/
Videos reproduced from YouTube / eurovision