Pitea, day 3

Saturday 3/28

After an unpleasant night, due to my sore throat, I didn’t want to go on a four-hour drive to ski across the arctic circle.  So I had breakfast with Lance and Patty and then let the gang go without me.  I took my skis out of the van, thinking I’d ski into town.  Minutes later, Mark came running up with my ski boots; Lance had sent him.

I headed to town later that morning.  I wanted to buy some small presents at the Tourism Bureau, eat hot soup, and resupply my bathroom and lunch stuff.  The golf course below our hotel ran down to the frozen sea; and thanks to the new snow I had a very good, mostly downhill run.  At Hole 7 on the shore, I skied west thru a field of saplings, and then picked up a trail thru a park.  Lance had encouraged me to go out on the ice, which the Chamber of Commerce guy had said was still safe in this north-facing bay.  I decided not to, because I was alone.  But, while making my way around the end of a low wooden platform, I felt my pole tips clicking on ice; it was a dock.

As I got closer to town, I saw more ski tracks and footprints; and the way got thin and icy.  I came to a row of apartment houses with a raised cement promenade along the water.  Many of the balconies were glassed in against the cold.  I hid my skis on the seawall rocks under the promenade and walked the rest of the way into town.

I'll bet this hotel has soap in the bathrooms.

I’ll bet this hotel has soap in the bathrooms.

I found the Tourism Bureau; but it was closed.  Happily, the “WC” was open.  I was tired and my throat hurt, and I refused to think about the trip back.  I went to the nearby “walking street” to look for an ATM and hot soup.  Most of the shops were closed because it was Saturday.  I asked a clerk in the town museum for directions.  (I always start with “Good morning!” so my Swedish informant will know that English is coming.)  She went out in the cold with me to point out a building with an ATM.  After that I found a cafeteria.  It seemed to be just a salad bar; so I made a salad and got some tea.  Then I discovered another serving line around the corner that had hot food.  Too late!

I kept looking for something like an American drug store or convenience store, but I never found any.  Don’t Swedes ever shave or get headaches or eat cheese sticks?  I stumbled onto an underground mall, found a snooty supplement shop and bought some vitamin C.  In the courtyard, a busker was singing in a bizarre Swedish cowboy accent:

Mama, put my guns in the ground
I can’t shoot them anymore.
That long black cloud is comin’ down
I feel I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door.

Meanwhile, the sun had come out.  The new snow melted, and the old snow started to melt too.  I retrieved my skis and walked and skied back to the hotel with my meager loot.

I spent the afternoon reconfiguring my gear from ski mode to fly mode.  I filled my wallet with Icelandic 1,000-kroner bills; they’re only worth $7 each.  The group showed up, and I went back to town with them for dinner.  

The pavement in town was mostly bare.  We ended up at the Golden Dragon.  While nominally Chinese, it also offered pizza, Indian food, Thai food and hamburgers.  I ordered chicken and asparagus soup, and a Hawaiian pizza; it came with banana slices on it.  I really liked it!

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