Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Inland Empire

As everywhere else, the narcissism of small differences applies to North Sweden. While I often refer to Umeå as the “High North” here on Rawls & Me, people from, say, Tromsø, would find this label slightly entertaining. Even within North Sweden, I have found that those living in the interior considers the “coast” to be clearly lacking in terms of authenticity, perhaps not as bad as “Stockholm” but certainly not the real thing.

This afternoon, taking the kids for a train ride up the River Ume, I sort of see their point. After a morning of intense snowfall, it was like entering a different realm. The closest I can remember was when flying from London to Skellefteå in 2009 and being greeted by a herd of reindeers just outside the airport.

For military strategic reasons, the main railway through North Sweden was built far away from the coast when constructed during the late 19th century. Before the Bothnia Line was built about 120 years later, the tiny town of Vännäs was an almost legendary junction where people travelling to and from Umeå had to change trains. Today, its station, built in 1891, truly felt like frozen in time.

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