The morning was rather slow and sleepy, at least for those in my room, but outside the Winter Market had begun. A few of the most eager of our group had set out to explore the various shops and activities by mid-morning, but some of us didn’t start looking around until the early afternoon. I wandered around the main market row for a little while to get a feel for the atmosphere. Above the sounds of conversation, some vendors (many in large fur coats and hats) were vying for the attention of passersby. As I walked further down the street, I became overpowered by the smell of cooked sausages, smoke, and reindeer meat–the next moment the air would be filled with the smell of Swedish candy and donuts. Oddly, a vendor selling traditional Sami duodji (artwork/handicrafts/woodworking/etc.) could be found next to a vendor who was selling One Direction and Justin Bieber shirts. It was an interesting and unexpected mix of international and local culture. There were plenty of these tents which offered “American pop culture” shirts. All seemed out of place, particularly when found across from someone selling reindeer hides or smoked moose meat. Other tents sold bracelets, jewelry, and house decor.
A few of us headed to the reindeer race at 2:00pm. The track wasn’t so crowded, so we were initially able to get a spot where the reindeer were being kept before the races, pictured here:
However, we later moved to a curve on the track so that we could actually see some of the race. The reindeer raced in pairs, pulling a person on a sled around a track which was probably about a hundred yards long. The reindeer were surprisingly well-behaved the track, considering none are quite domesticated. Their tongues amusingly flapped out of their mouths as they sprinted around the turn. Our group of five left the track after four or so races. There was one close race which was pretty exciting, but I don’t think points or winners were kept track of. Here’s a picture of the reindeer in action (Sorry for the track tape in front. I didn’t notice it until later.):
Afterwards, we checked out the shops again. A few people were enticed by the Norwegian sweaters on sale on one of the market’s side streets. Others went off to look around more. After checking out the sweaters, I perused a couple shops for souvenirs. The price of most things was very off-putting (as most of us found), so I kept my thinking small and simple. The competition between those selling Sami dudodji was high. Tents offering similar wares were often across or around the corner from each other. That made it easy to do some window shopping and comparing. But I was tempted by the doughnuts. Yeah, REALLY simple thinking, but the two doughnuts were totally worth the 20SEK ($3.10). They were a bit more substantial in taste and texture than American doughnuts (Krispi Kreme, Dunkin, you name it)—only a few local American shops I think could compare with it. I could have used a cup of coffee with them, though. Anyway, here’s a pic of what one of the side streets looked like in the late afternoon:
That’s about the extent of our Thursday. Lots of exploration. I did go to a Chinese restaurant for dinner with a few of the guys, but I’m sure the others found some other cool things to do, buy, and see. I personally had in mind a couple great documentaries and art exhibits to check out in the coming days (which were featured on multiple days), so there was certainly plenty to keep us all busy. Thanks for reading.