Finland, or to me more precise Lapland, what can I say, going there in January is a whole new definition on cold, at a fresh -30 its quite amazing the things that freeze.
however this winter wonderland is really stunning, its a complete world that is monochrome in the most magical way. I thought I had seen snow and felt cold but this just completely moved the bar and redefined my perceptions.
So what can you do in all this snow? we we went there with three bucket list items to get to, see the northern lights, ride snow mobiles and have a go on a dog sled.
To do this we stayed at the http://nellim.fi/destinations/muotkan-maja/ Muotka Wilderness Lodge, which really is in the wilderness, it is so quiet, you have Reindeer wandering the grounds [on occasion] and all around you nothing but forrest and of course in January Snow .. lots of snow.
Its about a 45 min ride form the airport in Ivalo and to be in a taxi with a local driver is quite an experience, they go so fast in the snow at first its a little unnerving, but the cars feel very planted on their snow tyres and I never really felt in any danger.
but I think hiring a car would be a bad plan, better get a local driver unless you have a lot of snow experience or of course driving in snow is on your bucket list, in which case that the full indemnity cover is on your insurance.
See Below a rental car buried in the snow we saw by the side of the road …
The first night we check in and get treated to a great meal and some drinks at the bar, the food really is very good, not super flash but good tasty wholesome food in buffet format so as much food as you want.
Free tea or coffee anytime beers/shorts etc from the bar were about €5 each so not to bad really.
##Day 1:Cross Country Skiing & Snowmobiles## We started the day with cross county skiing, a first for me, I add here I also don’t downhill ski, I have done one lesson in downhill but really didn’t get very far. But I am game to try anything so why not have a go :)
Well all I can say is I do suck at cross country skiing, Michelle did quite well at it, but even though I really suck at it, it was still great fun, a pretty good workout and the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere was complete. we also had a new and soon to be common experience, the sensation on ice on your eyelashes, thats is such a strange sensation. We skied for about 45 minutes then stopped for biscuits and Glögi which is an awesome hot drink, Glögi is a Mulled Wine .. It was very yummy.. I didn’t notice any booze in it :) .. anyway after our Glögi like all these things we had to ski for about 45 minutes back. Sara out guide was great and very patient with us.
That evening we had our first snowmobile ride. now with hindsight i am not so sure having the first ride in the dark was the smartest move but hey how hard can it be, i ride a motorcycle and bikes.. its much the same .. surely ? well no its nothing like riding a bike, it is quite surprising how much physical input the steering needs and how bumpy the ride is.
Our guide Etiu and we rode with 2 french couples on 4 snow mobiles, so including our guide 6 snowmobiles in convoy. However they had ridden before and were very familiar and confident. So the pace was I felt pretty brisk always around 40kph, my self hitting 50kph in the straight when I was playing catch up .. though it was one of them that managed to put their snowmobile down in a ditch :)
The idea of the ride is to go aurora hunting, you head out to find a large open space and there you can hopefully see the northern lights, but for us that night it was cloudy so no lights. The ride was split into three sessions, by the second session I found my way and by the third I was actually starting to enjoy it .. I think for the Michelle for the first she was so scared she was quite warm, in the second session she got calmer and then cold .. in the third she was miserable .. frozen to the core .. a whole new definition of cold!
##Day 2 : Snow Mobiles, Reindeer Farm, Snow Shoeing##
I think it was with some trepidation Michelle joined me for the snowmobiles, the lure of the Reindeer Farm was enough of a lure and she braved the pillion seat and I think found it more fun that the night before.
Anyway you can watch the movie and make your own mind up ..
Every night on this trip you go out and do something try and get to see the northern lights, on this night we went out snow shoeing which I don’t have any photo’s or videos of. But it is great so quiet peaceful and the night we went out was very moonlit, but still cloud cover so no northern lights, another great experience though.
##Day 3 : Dog Sled Adventure##
This was on Michelle’s bucket list of things to do, just as the snowmobiles was on mine. I don’t know what I had expected really but all I can say is, it was freaking AWESOME!
If you watch the movie you will get the idea, but basically we ran out for about an hour, then had a great lunch cooked over an open fire .. then another great ride back :) the movie is only 5 mins long, so super condensed :)
For this night we decided to go for a trip out in the car, nice and warm and we figured a better shot to go further and perhaps get to see the Aurora. But still no luck .. as they say its not guaranteed ..
##What about the Nuts and Bolts ..Bookings ..##
We made the booking through
I am sure not the cheapest but they did a great job and everything just worked.. well done ! Flights were booked by the Aurora Zone on http://www.finnair.com/, what can i say .. you been on a Ryanair flight .. you get the idea make sure you take food and drink with you ..
Clothing: We took lots of thermals, and combined with the gear the resort leant us it was just about warm enough, if I went again I would take a big thick pair of track pants to go under the suit over thermals.. a couple of sets, and you want a warm pair of gloves you fit under the mittens they provide. A neoprene ski mask would be good as well. If you have crash Helmets, then my advice is to take them with clear and tinted visors, if you have ski googles pack those as well.
Go-Pro and Batteries: okay so a battery lasts about 15 minutes, I took three, and rotated them but when not in use they need to be in a pocket close to your body heat or when you get them out they are flat !
Canon EOS: I didn’t use it much, at -30c its a real hassle to get out hence the Go-Pro was much easier to use. I also had some issues with the shutter freezing seemed to be okay if i had it in a pack wrapped up and just got it out briefly to shot pictures then put it away again. The battery was fine .. lasted a couple of hours .. mind you it normally lasts a couple of weeks of hard use!
So what can I say .. its on a lot of bucket lists .. seeing the lights is still on ours, but all the other stuff made it a great mini break all the same !
Want to see more ?? .. all the photos can be found here