This week we say goodbye to Finland as we crossed the border into Sweden, do a lot of laundries and face an unexpected challenge!
Day 9 - Monday 3rd of October
Rovaniemi - Sangis
Monday morning in Rovaniemi was sunny and Minna & Olivia headed to a nearby playground while Jake did work in the mobile home. After lunch, with our sights set on crossing the Swedish-Finnish border, we headed to the grocery store in Rovaniemi to do our last restock in Finland. We stopped to fill up the mobile home with diesel in Tornio before crossing the border.
In Haparanda we stopped shortly in the Ikea parking lot and the girls went to get some bits that had been on our mind like a smaller saucepan, a rug for the living space and Ikea meatballs. What would a trip to Sweden be without Ikea meatballs, right? We got hungry while shopping so we had dinner at the parking lot.
We still didn’t have a destination in mind on where we wanted to spend the night, we had quite a bit of laundry gathered up from the past week so we found a camping site from the Park4Night app which also offered laundry and tumble dryer service. It wasn’t that expensive either so off to Sangis it was! The owners of the camping site were really friendly and the place was also very nice & quaint.
That evening was spent doing the laundry, playing outside in the field blowing bubbles as a thick fog descended as the sunset turned to a dark grey. That night as we got into bed, cranky and tired, we reflected on the day gone and agreed we had tried to do far too much in one day. Not only did Jake have to work, but we did grocery shopping, drove for 3 hours, stopped at Ikea and also did 3-4 loads of laundry.
Day 10 - Tuesday 4th of October
Sangis - Niemisel
Tuesday morning was filled with washing some more laundry, then putting them into the tumble dryer and then folding them away. It was hectic, but luckily Olivia didn’t mind the lack of play company and was happy to help Mum. We also emptied the toilet and filled the water tank before we turned our wheels to the next location.
Jake mentioned that there is a quite nice sauna and a fireplace in Niemisel where he has often stopped on his climbing trips to Norway, so that’s where we were headed. We found a parking spot in the forest and started making our way to cook some sausages by the fire and enjoy the sauna.
This “quite nice sauna” on the other hand was nothing that Minna had imagined. There wasn’t a possibility to warm up the water so we washed ourselves with freezing cold water and the sauna was pitch black! AND we had to dress on the sauna porch. Minna just wanted away from there as soon as possible. 😁 How happy was she when we got back to the car and enjoyed a nice WARM shower.
Day 11 - Wednesday 5th of October
Niemisel - Storforsen
Wednesday morning was really rainy so Minna and Olivia stayed inside the van and did tons of arts & crafts while Jake was working. It was really nice mommy-daughter time and quite relaxing as well without the hassle of getting dressed to go outside. Something different! Having a mobile home with two seating areas has really proven to be a great benefit when entertaining Olivia.
After having lunch we started driving towards Storforsen, one of the biggest waterfalls/rapids in Europe. The Storforsen nature reserve has a huge tarmac car park that was completely empty, we set up camp with our window facing the beautiful pine forest.
In the evening we took a walk down to the lookout platform but it was already getting too dark to appreciate the grandeur of this natural phenomenon. But we enjoyed the fresh air and got a little peak of what was waiting for us tomorrow.
Day 12 - Thursday 6th of October
Storforsen - Arvidsjaur
Yay, we woke up to sunshine! Even Olivia noticed how nice it was to see the sun again! Our hearts melted right at that moment. We have done something right as parents, it’s our joy to see her appreciating nature and enjoying the little things in life.
That morning Jake took some time away from his normal work routine and all three of us headed to the Storforsen nature reserve area to go have a look at the waterfalls. The walk around the park was just breathtaking! Beautiful landscape and scenery all around you. And the waterfalls then! You cannot even comprehend the size of them and how much water runs there, even the noise and the hum give you goosebumps. This place is definitely worth a visit!
After our long walk around the reserve, we were all really hungry, we headed back to the van and enjoyed the rare silence of a hungry toddler devouring her lunch.
This is where our plan ended, Jake knew when we left Kuopio a week and a half ago that the journey would take us here. Now, we had nothing but a compass bearing (South) and all the time in the world.
Minna opened up Google Maps and pinned the next location to be Arvidsjaur, a small village where we could fill up water, get some diesel and join up with the main road E45 that would take us all the way to Denmark.
Google maps took us on a real adventure through some very small and bumpy gravel roads, but we made it safely to our parking spot for the night. The parking spot in question was right next to a collection of “houses” we dubbed “the midget village”, it was a samí church village and a very peculiar place indeed.
Day 13 - Friday 7th of October
Arvidsjaur - Storuman
On Friday morning Minna and Olivia left our temporary “midget village” neighbourhood and headed for a park we spotted the previous day. The zip line was the star of the show and down we went at least a dozen times! We kept busy playing Hide and seek & tag, some of Olivia’s favourite games so the morning went by quickly while having fun.
As per our usual routine, we started driving after lunch. That afternoon we arrived in Storuman and parked our car in the grocery store parking lot to make some coffee and scout out a place to park for the night. Minna started making coffee, but wait! The gas had run out! We had totally neglected to keep an eye on our gas bottle!
A quick google search and we found one place nearby that sold gas that was luckily still open. Turns out, Swedish gas bottles are unique from the rest of Europe so they wouldn’t take our European bottle in exchange. Okay, so we can buy a Swedish bottle and return it before we leave to get our deposit back, right?
No, Sweden removed bottle buy-back due to the high amounts of thieves around three years ago.
This was starting to look like it was going to be an unavoidable expense. Luckily the friendly staff at the gas shop informed us that the next big town about 300km down the E45 called Östersund sells European bottles (due to the city’s proximity to the Norwegian border).
So we decided to save our money and wait until we arrived at Östersund in a few days.
We pondered a little while about what we should do food-wise as we couldn’t cook in the van. We decided to check in to the local camping site and use their kitchen, shower and sauna facilities which were a lot cheaper than buying a new gas bottle. The camping site was really nice, and very well maintained with a big playground where Olivia could have fun and a picturesque promenade that went around the lake.
Day 14 - Saturday 8th of October
Storuman - Dorotea
In the morning Minna went to the shared kitchen to make some banana pancakes and Jake flew the drone around the area as the sunrise was really pretty. After breakfast, it was time to go to explore the area and take some gorgeous pictures (one of which is the feature image in the header). Our bellies grumbled as lunchtime called us, we headed into the kitchen where we decided to take full advantage of the extra space and luxury of a real kitchen. We made food preparations for the upcoming week, chilli-con-Carne, mashed potatoes and crawfish-tuna-pasta. Jake was on fire cooking while Olivia was helping wash the dishes, it was a whole family effort for sure!
After lunch, we emptied the toilet & grey water and filled up the fresh water tank before continuing the travels towards Östersund. However, Östersund was over four hours drive away so we decided to split our journey. It was now Saturday and the shop that sells gas wasn’t open again until Monday morning, so no rush.
That cloudy afternoon we arrived in Dorotea and parked our car next to the church parking lot on a hill overlooking a valley of green pine trees. Of course, we wanted to find a playground so off we went and explored the area and to our surprise found not just one, but two different parks! Olivia was so happy, and so were we.
Day 15 - Sunday 9th of October
Dorotea - Östersund
Sunday morning was sunny and after breakfast, we headed again outside to see what more there would be to do. The town was quite small but we stumbled upon yet another park and also found a dedicated caravan parking area in the town centre, this wasn’t advertised anywhere so we took some photos of the area and posted them on the Park4Night app to help others with their travels.
Unfortunately, this new park paled in comparison to the school park from yesterday’s evening excursion and Olivia was determined that we have to walk back past the school park so that she can go down the twisting yellow slide again. While Olivia was engaged in yellow slide activities Mum and Dad took the opportunity to do some stretching and exercises to relieve the aches and stiffness that come with living in a mobile home.
We ate a cold lunch (remember we have no gas), packed up and were now within driving distance of our current destination where we could pick up a new gas bottle, pinned Östersund and started driving.
We arrived in the afternoon and parked on a gravel area in the suburbs of the town. Now, our normal routine would include an afternoon coffee at this point, once we arrived at our parking spot for the night. But we still had 12 hours before the shop opens and we can exchange our bottle. Minna spotted a coffee shop on Google maps that had a park next to it, perfect. We put on our clothes and headed on our quest for coffee.
Turns out Google maps had old information and the coffee shop was, in fact, a summer café/terrace. On the bright side, Olivia was happy as the park was right next to the closed café, with headaches and tiredness from the lack of caffeine we stayed and played in the park. On the way back we decided to treat ourselves to a takeaway meal and ordered Indian food to the car. Upon the arrival of the food, the delivery guy phoned us in confusion as he couldn’t find any house at the address. Jake promptly walked out of the mobile home and waved the delivery guy down and had a laugh explaining our situation. After dinner, we took quick, coldish showers and headed to bed in hopes of getting a new gas bottle the next day.
Stay tuned for next week’s adventures and locations, it will be again a busy one!
*Services include camp sites, laundry, septic tank services, water, electric, etc.