2019 Finland

January 2019

I arrived in Helsinki from Barcelona, and traveled into town, checked into the hotel, bought a hoodie, and waited for Rachel to arrive. We headed out to explore the Lux festival something we had researched online before we came.

The festival features a walking route around part of the city where exhibits of illumination are setup.

We went to the rock church, a church caved out from a rocky piece of land which has levels of pews allowing a great vow of the building, it's a really nice place to relax.

In the evening we went back to look at a few parts of the Lux festival we had missed the previous night, especially wanting to see a giant set of varying length pendulums rack with a light up ball on the end, which produces really beautiful patterns.

The following morning we flew up to Kittilä, picked up a hire car and went to one of the ice hotels, the Snow Village, this year everything was themed as Game of Thrones, which was really impressive, we looked around and had a few drinks in the ice bar before driving down to Rovaniemi where we were staying that night.

In Rovaniemi we booked a snowmobiling tour, and were really lucky to find we were the only two, so it was me, Rachel, and our guide. We snowmobiled out about 18km to the edge of a frozen lake, before continuing to a tipi, having some food, and hot chocolate, and then riding back to the start. We also went to Arktikum, the science museum.

The following day we drove up to Apukka where we stayed in an Ice cabin for one night while it was around -18c outside. We went snowshoeing, this was a guided tour and we accompanied a family from Austria who were lovely. We also explored Santa Claus Village which visually is pretty magical, but also a little tacky and commercial. Because they use a special postmark, we both posted a postcard to our parents. That evening I had one of the best steaks of my life (equal to the one in Cologne.)

The next evening we stayed in the same resort but this time in an aurora cabin which is a wooden cabin where the front half is all glass, so while laid in bed you can see the skies. Unfortunately however while we stayed there it was mostly heavy snow and we didn't get to see much sky, and only the glimmer of an aurora.

We drove North past Inari up to a car park off the side of the road where our host met us to take us to our cabin located on an island only accessible by snowmobile. The place was wonderfully secluded and cosy. That first night was quite stormy and by morning we couldn’t see any tracks in the snow, only fresh powder.

Our first full day on the island we went out on cross-country skies (the first time Rachel has skied) we used the sauna and generally relaxed. The second day we snowshoed back to the car and drove further North seeing more reindeer on the road. We made a campfire in a tipi on the island and toasted marshmallows and played with sparklers.

Our penultimate day in Finland was mostly spent driving South to Levi, but the drive was magical with no traffic on an isolated, snowy road, passing through the town of Pokka, stopping at a cosy rest stop and having coffee and cakes. In 1991 Pokka recorded a record temperature of -51.5c the coldest in Europe.

We spent our final night in Levi at a spa resort, enjoying the hot pools, jacuzzis, and saunas before going to bed and getting some sleep before flying home.

We stayed in 5 different places, drove just short of 1,000km saw multiple reindeer, snowmobiled, snowshoed, skied, and sauna’d. The trip was perfect! ❤️