• Sweden edition
 
My Sweden - Skellefteå
'The northern lights are simply spectacular'

'The northern lights are simply spectacular'

Published: 08 Mar 2013 10:07 GMT+01:00
Updated: 08 Mar 2013 10:07 GMT+01:00

In our weekly profile of people's lives in different parts of Sweden, The Local catches up with a Spanish couple who traded the sunny climes of Galicia for the snow, reindeer, and northern lights of Skellefteå.

For anyone who finds themselves tromping around the quiet streets of Skellefteå, finding Miguel Couceiro, 29, and Saleta Beiro, his 30-year-old girlfriend of more than six years, probably won't be too hard.

"Swedish people all dress in black," explains Couceiro, who first landed in this northern Sweden back in 2009 to pursue a masters in wood technology.

"But we try to be much more colourful. You can spot as from far away. It's also easy to find a lot of colourful stuff on sale because no one else wants to buy it."

The couple's taste for eye-catching clothing isn't the only thing that makes them unique among Skellefteå's roughly 30,000 residents.

SEE ALSO: In Pictures: My Sweden - Skellefteå

Together, the couple makes up nearly half of the city's Spanish population – at least according to their own calculations.

"Since we moved here, three more people from Spain have moved here. But we actually met them all in Spain. They read our blog and after hearing from us about life here, they decided to move here too," Beiro explains.

The blog, Å: Blog de Suecia, www.blogdesuecia.es, began early in the couple's stay in Skellefteå as a way to give friends and family back in Spain a window into their "exotic" life in northern Sweden.

Beiro, who showed up in the dead of winter six months after Couceiro had arrived to start his degree, still remembers the shock of stepping off the plane.

"It was -27C the first day I was here. That was a BIG change from Spain," she recalls.

"Everything was completely white. It was crazy. Everything looked the same and I didn't dare move around the city at all."

While her boyfriend pursued his studies, Beiro took classes to improve her English before later enrolling in Swedish for immigrant (SFI) language classes.

Eventually, local tourism officials learned to their surprise that some wayward Spaniards were blogging in Spanish about life in Skellefteå.

The discovery dovetailed nicely with the launching in 2011 of a direct Ryanair flight from Skellefteå to Barcelona's Girona airport.

Suddenly, Beiro found herself working for Destination Skellefteå, helping them manage their social media efforts as well as serving as a one-person welcoming committee for the increasing numbers of Spanish tourists arriving via Ryanair and, in some cases, after reading about the area on the couple's blog.

As Couceiro continues to hunt for permanent employment after finishing his degree, the couple explains that they've really fallen in love with life in Skellefteå, not to mention the cheap housing.

SEE ALSO: Check out the latest home listings in The Local’s Property Section

"Houses are really cheap in Skellefteå. Much cheaper than in Spain, no matter if you are buying or renting," Couceiro explains.

"But most of all we love that it's like living in two different cities. In the summer it's full of flowers and green and gorgeous. And in the winter, it's completely different – white and bright, and beautiful."

Bright? Indeed, while Skellefteå's proximity to the Arctic Circle makes sunlight scarce in the winter, the lack of natural light doesn't leave the town drenched in darkness, according to Couceiro.

"It's actually much darker in Stockholm in the winter. Here, there is snow everywhere, so what little light there is gets reflected. It's actually a lot brighter here than people think."

While some of the stereotypes they had about Swedes before they arrived turned out to be true ("lots of blonde girls, cool guys, and totally into fashion"), others have been proven false.

"The Swedes aren't quite as closed and reserved as many people in southern Europe think," says Couceiro.

"The people here in Skellefteå are really nice. We really feel like we're a part of the community."

Of course, there were some adjustments.

"We are more used to touching each other and giving big, warm greetings in Spain. Here it just takes a bit more time. But people are really nice and we do feel like we're a part of the community," he continues.

"There's also no place to get good tapas here. If we want them, we just make them at home."

Skellefteå's dearth of authentic Spanish cuisine is more than made up for by other things the town has to offer.

"There is a beautiful old wooden church village of Bonnstan," he says, referring to a collection of more than 100 wooded buildings dating from the 1700s.

A nearby wooden bridge, Lejonströmsbron, was the scene of the last military battle fought on Swedish soil in 1809 when Swedish troops fought in vain against the 6,000-strong Russian army.

But the real attractions are to be found in nature.

"There are Sami reindeer herders quite close by. I had a Spanish tourist ask me if he could see any, and I told him he could see thousands," says Beiro.

Then there are those other four-legged beasts.

"The moose! They are such strange animals. Such skinny legs and huge heads," Beiro recalls from her experience on an elk safari.

"They are like a cross between a cow and a horse, but drawn by a child."

SEE ALSO: Elk intimacy with 'Leffe the Moose Man'

But the biggest treat of all about living in Skellefteå?

"The northern lights. They are simply spectacular," Couceiro effuses, calling the celestial phenomenon "overwhelming" to see live.

"Just the other day I was brushing my teeth and looked out the window and there was this huge northern lights display."

SEE ALSO: In Pictures - Sweden's northern lights

Beiro agrees, explaining that none of the pictures or videos she'd seen could prepare her for the aurora borealis she's seen in her adopted home in northern Sweden.

"There is so much movement. It's like the lights are dancing across the sky," she says.

David Landes

Follow David Landes on Twitter

Related links:

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

22:21 March 8, 2013 by EmilioQuintana
"the sunny climes of Galicia"?http://www.colindavies.net/weather%20in%20Galicia.htm
Today's headlines
Sweden scraps 'new start zones' after EU input
Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag visits a school in Tensta, one of the neighbourhoods mentioned when he and his colleagues first floated the new start zone proposal. File: TT

Sweden scraps 'new start zones' after EU input

Sweden has abandoned a plan to ease taxes for small companies in blighted areas after the European Commission challenged its legality. READ () »

'Easter eggs an invitation to spread germs'
A typical Swedish Easter egg. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

'Easter eggs an invitation to spread germs'

A Swedish microbiologist has warned that traditional Swedish Easter eggs laden with candy are an open invitation to the spread of bacteria and viruses. "Is this really a good idea?" he asked. READ () »

Jammed truck snarls Stockholm rush hour
Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Jammed truck snarls Stockholm rush hour

PICTURES: A truck got wedged inside a tunnel in central Stockholm on Thursday, with authorities concerned the accident may have damaged cables in the tunnel's ceiling. READ () »

Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
A Swedish Easter witch holding daffodils. File photo: TT

Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter

In India, I'd notice Easter only from the traffic jam outside the churches, but here witches, egg hunts, and feathers mark the Christian holiday. The Local's Deepti Vashisht brings you the various shades of Swedish Easter. READ () »

Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Chemtrails?: Shutterstock.

Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe

A Swedish MP who launched an official government investigation into the existence of chemtrails tells The Local why he thinks Swedes deserve the truth, even if it may leave some conspiracy theorists unsatisfied. READ () »

PM pleads ignorance of Vattenfall's Nuon bid
Fredrik Reinfeldt answers the constitutional affairs committee's questions. Photo: TT

PM pleads ignorance of Vattenfall's Nuon bid

Sweden's prime minister on Thursday said Vattenfall itself, not its owners the Swedish state, had responsibility for the loss-making Nuon deal. READ () »

'Kockums submarine raid may be illegal': lawyer
Photo: TT

'Kockums submarine raid may be illegal': lawyer

A Swedish lawyer says the Swedish military may have broken the law when it raided the Malmö premises of German defence giant Thyssen Krupp. READ () »

Good weather could blight Easter traffic
Easter traffic two years ago on the E4 motorway. File: Jessica Gow/TT

Good weather could blight Easter traffic

Traffic experts have cautioned Swedes heading to the countryside for what should be a sunny Easter, warning that the most serious accidents often take place when the weather is clement. READ () »

Saab offers Gripen lease to Malaysia
Jas Gripen jets in flight. File photo: TT

Saab offers Gripen lease to Malaysia

Swedish defence giant Saab has offered to rent out fighter jets to Malaysia. READ () »

What's On in Sweden

What's On in Sweden

Check out what's happening with The Local's guide to the main attractions and events in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö - in association with DoToday. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Advertisement:
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
TT
Politics
Swedes to give six-hour workday a go
TT
Society
Aussie choir member wows Abba in Sweden
YouTube
Society
Stockholm magic a surprise YouTube hit
Fastighetsbyrån
Society
Gallery: The Local's Property of the Week
Private
Society
Swedes find 200-year-old gravestone in living room
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Deepti Vashisht
Features
Deepti Vashisht dissects the magic of Sweden's personal ID number
Shutterstock
Society
Ten signs you've been in Sweden too long
Society
Jimi Fritze heard every word when doctors discussed taking his organs
Society
A Swedish farmer explains why the new bestiality ban is 'pointless'
ESL
Sponsored Article
Learning Swedish the easy way
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

748
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com