Earlier this year, I embarked on a once in a life time journey with Volvo Middle East to Sweden for the VIP Winter Test Drive, where we would give the new Volvo V90 Cross Country a run for its money…on ice!
Landing in Stockholm, we kicked off the day with a city tour like no other! We experienced what Stockholm was like in the middle ages through thrilling historical tales. Old town, or “Gamla stan” as it is known locally, is by far the most mythical and legendary neighbourhood in all of Stockholm. Ending the night with a lovely dinner, we headed to the glorious Diplomat Hotel for some well earned sleep.
Up nice and early, we made our way back to Stockholm airport to catch a domestic flight to Kiruna, north of Sweden and only 145km from the Arctic Circle. Once we arrived to Kiruna airport, we struggled to drag our bags across the road to the Volvo meeting point, where we were briefed about what is to come in the next couple of days. After changing into, let’s say, more suitable winter attire, we strapped our gear onto the sleds and were off!
Arriving at the infamous ICE HOTEL, we were all left in absolute awe. Founded in 1989, it is the world’s first hotel made entirely out of ice and snow. Checking into our rooms, we had a few hours to rest and roam the property before a warm dinner and drinks. We would spend the night in normal accommodation, but little did we know what was to come the following night.
Today was the day! A handful of Volvo Sweden representatives introduced us to the V90 Cross Country and reinforced its renowned safety features that makes it one of the most trustworthy cars on the road today, followed by a summary of what we were to expect from ice track driving before heading off to the actual track.
We arrived to the ice track filled with adrenaline and ready to tear it up. Teaming up with my good friend Max of Arabia, we scaled through a number of circuits, tracks and challenges in preparation for the final grand prix challenge that saw all of us go head to head on who could complete the track in the fastest time. Let’s just say I needed to be towed out of the snow halfway through lap one!
After an incredible day driving on ice, we made our way back to the ICE HOTEL for one of the most surreal experiences and a memory for life. On this night, I would sleep in an ice room with the temperature between -5 to -8 degrees celsius.
Before I tried to get any sleep in below zero temperatures, it was time I finally ticked my number one buckle list entry. With the sky clearing up at around 2am, we prepared for the greatest light show on earth, The Northern Lights.
To cap off the trip, we headed back to Kiruna airport in style: on snowmobiles, across frozen lakes and dense forest…just because!