Snapshots from Scandinavia: Digital Transcriptions of Climate and Culture

From dog-sledding to the northern lights, Viking ships to the Ice Hotel, this interim explores the unique aspects of living close to and above the Arctic Circle – through the lens of our cameras. After lessons in digital photography and pre-trip orientation, we’ll take off for two weeks in Sweden and Norway where we’ll record aspects of Nordic culture and climate, creating travel blogs to reflect on the experience.

Starting in Stockholm, we’ll explore Swedish history and culture through visits to sites such as the Vasa Museum (featuring the world’s oldest complete warship) and the interactive ABBA Museum. From Stockholm, we’ll travel north of the Arctic Circle to visit the world-famous Ice Hotel outside of Kiruna. There we’ll learn to take pictures of the Aurora Borealis, take a lesson in ice sculpting, and experience the winter landscape through cross-country skiing. Then, we’ll take a train to Oslo, Norway where we’ll visit the Nobel Peace Center and the Olympic Park and Museum in Lillehammer. In Norway we’ll also explore popular winter activities such as bobsledding and curling.

A sketch of our daily itinerary (and informaiton brochure) can be found here


Kiruna/Jukkasjärvi, Sweden:

  • The Ice Hotel – The original ICEHOTEL, Sweden, was founded in 1989. It’s an art exhibition and hotel made of natural ice and snow from one of Europe’s last wild rivers, 200 km north of the Arctic Circle. We’ve made it our mission to create life enriching experiences, in Jukkasjärvi and beyond. The walls, floors and ceilings of the hotel are the canvases of designers from all creative disciplines. The artists and art work vary from year to year, each rendition of the hotel presenting an ephemeral collection. The hotel melts and returns to Mother Nature in spring.
  • Ice Sculpting Class – Explore the magical world of ice sculpting for yourself with this introductory class. Working with your hands completely absorbs you, realaxing and intense at once. The master sculptor begins the class by giving you some background about working with ice, and an introduction to the tools. Each sculptor apprentice is then given a block and chisel and off you go!
  • Dog Sledding Tour – we’ll visit a dog sled camp where you have the chance to meet friendly Alaskan huskies face to face. You can also romp and play with the puppies and ask any questions you may have about the dogs. After getting acquainted with the dogs, you’ll have the chance to help harness them. We’ll get under way to the sound of barking huskies, but as they get into their stride, they quiet down. The only sound you will hear from then on is the sound of the snow sliding by under the sled as the dogs carry you into the Northern wilderness.
  • Northern Lights Photography Tour – a nightly excursion to hidden places in the wilderness – away from the intruding electric lights of human civilization, the conditions for catching the lights are at their best. While we wait for the Aurora to make her appearance on the night sky, your guide takes you through the basics of night time photography and capturing the northern lights on camera.
  • Cross-country Skiing – strap on your cross-country skis and head into the Narnia-like woodlands. Cross-country skiing is next to a religion in northern Sweden and you’ll find most locals have at least two or three sets at home. Athletes favor it for its all-round work out of all the major muscle groups while at the same time an efficient cardio-exercise. And, if you’re not keen on the fitness aspect it’s still a great way to get off the beaten track and experience the Arctic wilderness. We stop for “fika” (Swedish for coffee and a snack) along the way.

Stockholm, Sweden:

  • Skansen – the world’s first open-air museum, founded in 1891. Here you can stroll through five centuries of Swedish history, from north to south, with a real sense of the past all around in the histori­cal buildings and dwellings, peop­led by characters in period dress. 
  • Vasa Museum – the museum’s centerpiece is the stunning 17th-century warship, the world’s oldest complete ship. Ironically, in 1628 it sunk to the bottom of the harbor on its maiden voyage, where it remained until being salvaged 333 years later.
  • Fotographiska – Fotografiska is an international meeting place where everything revolves around photography. Located in the heart of Stockholm… exhibitions are the foundation of Fotografiska. The center’s ambition is to exhibit world-renowned photographers, many who have never been shown in Sweden, as well as those who are not yet established. Since our grand opening, May 20th 2010, we have shown legends like Annie Leibovitz, David LaChapelle and Nick Brandt and introduced new photographers like Helena Blomqvist, Klara Kallstrom and Johan Wik. Here, we’ll participate in a half-day photography workshop in addition to touring the galleries.
  • ABBA the Museum – ABBA The Museum is more than an ordinary museum. Naturally, the members’ costumes, gold records, original items, memorabilia, and much, much more are here. But at this museum you are an important part of the experience! We simply want you to experience the feeling of being the 5th ABBA member. To find out what you would look like in their legendary stage costumes, to sing at the Polar Studio, to experience exciting hologram illusions, and to enter the stage together with the band.
  • The Royal Palace of Stockholm – this 18th-century Italian-baroque residence has more than 600 rooms and took more than 60 years to complete. The Royal Palace of Stockholm is His Majesty The King’s official residence and is also the setting for most of the monarchy’s official receptions. In addition to the Royal Apartments there are three museums steeped in regal history: the Treasury with the regalia, the Tre Kronor Museum that portrays the palaces medieval history and Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities.

Oslo, Norway:

  • Viking Ship Museum – the museum displays the world’s two best-preserved wooden Viking ships built in the 9th century, as well as small boats, sledges, a cart with exceptional ornamentation, implements, tools, harness, textiles and household utensils.
  • Vigeland Sculpture Park – the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist, and is one of Norway’s most popular tourist attractions. The park is open to visitors all year round. The unique sculpture park is Gustav Vigeland’s lifework with more than 200 sculptures in bronze, granite and wrought iron.
  • Nobel Peace Center – the museum about the Nobel Peace Prize. We present the Peace Prize laureates and their work, and tell the story of Alfred Nobel and the Peace Prize. The Center also acts as an arena for debate about important social issues. Through permanent and temporary exhibitions, guided tours, various events and family activities, we wish to foster reflection and engagement on topics related to war, peace and conflict resolution. The Nobel Peace Center has achieved international recognition for the use of documentary photography and interactive technology.
  • Oslo Opera House – we’ll go on a guided tour and gain an insight into some of the many facilities the Opera House has to offer and what goes on behind the scenes before the curtain rises. Maybe we can walk out onto the Main Stage, or visit the costume workshop or scene painting room, and possibly even meet a singer or dancer as we make our way around. Learn about the architecture, stagecraft, opera and ballet from our knowledgeable tour guides.