I’m writing this blog from the train as we make the trip from Östersund down to Mora. I’ve done a lot of train travel over the years and I can say that this is up there with the most awesome trains I’ve ever been on. But more on that later…
The last few days in Östersund have been lovely with lots of sunshine, slightly warmer temperatures and good snow. Yesterday Casey, Anna and I went for a ski with Fi Hughes from Great Britain and it was one of those days where the tracks are so fast and the company is so good you feel like you could go all day. We didn’t go all day of course, as we had to pack up our apartment at Camp Sodergren and get ready to travel. There’s been lots of Olympic watching happening, which has been fabulous, and Casey and I even passed on our crochet knowledge to Fi, who is going to make some smashing headbands. Fi has a blog about her racing and training, you can check it out here: http://www.fionahughesdotcom.wordpress.com
I’m somewhat surprised that we managed to fit all of our gear into our bags this morning, as everyone has accumulated more clothes / boots / skis / you-name-it since we came over here, but we did it.
When our train pulled up at the station, I was confused, thinking that some of the carriages must be missing, but our lovely conductor, Lyn, informed us that this is a special train. The Swedish name for this type of train translates to “railway bus”; it’s just the single carriage, it was made in Italy in the 1980’s and has been running here in Sweden ever since I think. Thankfully there have been some minor adjustments since the 80’s like better heating and wifi.
I felt like a little kid again getting to go up the front of the train, meet the driver and see how it all works. We had to stop the train for a minute to wait for some reindeer (oh my gosh!) to get off the tracks, not that we can see any tracks at all! I can’t believe the trains can run in this much snow, if we ever had snow like this in Australia I think all transport would just shut down completely.
We will be arriving in Mora in an hour or so ready for the excitement of the Vasaloppet week. Lyn told us the story of how the Vasa came about, and it goes something like this…
A long time ago there was a king in Denmark who was very mean. The Swedish people were all very worried that he was going to come and take over their country, so the king of Sweden set out to find an army to defend them. He arrived in Mora hoping to find men to fight for him, but they didn’t want to help. “We’re starving and have very little shelter here, but you won’t help us. Why should we help you?” they said. Knowing a lost cause when he saw one, the King strapped on his skis and started off towards Norway to find men to fight. After he had left, however, the people of Mora changed their minds, deciding that they did want to fight for their king after all. They selected the fastest skiers in the town and sent them after the king. The men skied 90 kilometers before they caught up to the king, but catch him they did, and thus the Vasaloppet was born.
Now, every year, people come from all over the world to race in the 90km Vasaloppet race, but finishing gets you some warm blueberry soup instead of a war, thank goodness!
I can’t wait!