The Artisan Blog
The Arctic Circle is generally associated with winter and long, dark nights but I have always found the prospect of the Midnight Sun and the endless summer days to be alluring. It is something which is hard to understand when you come from a world that has both light and dark each day. In fact, this natural phenomenon seems so unnatural to us in the UK that it can divide opinion. I have since returned from the far north of Finland and having just experienced the Midnight Sun for myself I can honestly say that it should be on every bucket list, and don’t worry, the hotels in Finland have excellent blackout blinds!
After hearing the many beautiful tales of Lapland and seeing some incredible photos of the Aurora Borealis and the winter landscapes of Finland, I thought, “there is no way it can actually look like that surely?”. But as we descended through the clouds into Rovaniemi, with the sun rising past a blanket of snow, I could not believe my eyes – it was just like the photos! The incredible snow that hung from every branch of every tree was such a breath-taking sight.
Despite having travelled to Finland several times by myself, I had never given my parents the chance to experience its wonders for themselves. However, in January they got to experience a holiday to Torassieppi in Finnish Lapland for the first time. Read on to find out what they made of their experience to the Arctic North!
To say we were apprehensive about going on a 25km Snowmobile safari is a drastic understatement. The closer to the activity we got the quieter Jorie and I became. However, when it was time for the activity we went along, watched the briefing video and before long we were being swept along on a snowmobile!
Despite being a fairly seasoned traveller to Finland myself, my parents had never experienced the delights of the Arctic North. However, in January they got to experience a holiday to Torassieppi in Finnish Lapland for themselves. Read on to find out how they got on!
Flying into Finland, we could see the vast spread of snow, frozen lakes and trees reaching out across the horizon and only as the plane touched down did we see just how deep the snow was on each side of the runway. An early flight meant that we landed in Kittilä around lunchtime, but it was on the drive to Torassieppi that we began to grasp the immensity of the wilderness in this fabulous country.
Despite having been lucky enough to experience the delights of Finland numerous times for myself, my parents had never had the opportunity to visit this amazing country for themselves. With my dad having a very special birthday coming up, I decided that I would give him and my mum the chance to experience this beautiful Arctic gem for themselves. Here's what happened from their point of view!
When winter comes around and the weather becomes more bitter, all I crave is cosiness and comfort in order to get me through the short grey days. This is why, when I read about ‘hygge’, my mindset on how to spend these potentially dreary months changed completely.
In case you haven’t heard of this revelation which is taking the likes of Pinterest and Instagram by storm, ‘hygge’, pronounced ‘hooga’, is a Danish word which has no direct translation in English. It does not describe anything tangible, but rather that warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with truly enjoying life’s simple pleasures, particularly during the colder months.
After a short stay at Brändön Lodge, we continued our journey north and ventured further into the Lappish wilderness. We were heading for a small village called Sörbyn, in Northern Sweden, where we would undertake perhaps the most anticipated activity. Dog sledding conjures up a variety of magical images but nothing quite compares to the reality.
We arrived at the location of our activity in the early afternoon but already the sun had begun its descent casting an orange glow on the surrounding snow. Three teams of dogs lay in wait and the moment they saw us approach they began to realise the time had come for another journey. Never before had I witnessed such excitement amongst dogs. They were eager to set off, climbing on top of one another, barking and trying to pull a sleigh which was anchored into the snow.
For the first half of the tour, two of us would control our own sleigh and the other two would sit on the guide's sled, then we would swap over. As the guide went through a list of instructions on how to control the dogs I began to feel quite nervous, and as a gentleman was about to offer my companions the opportunity to have their own sleds. Unfortunately, my colleague seemed equally nervous and had sat down on the guide's sled before he had finished speaking and thus I had no choice but to throw myself straight into it.
Lapland is all too often associated with thousands of families searching for a big guy with a thick, woolly beard, a jovial laugh and a propensity for dishing out gifts in late December.
However, escape the “Santa Centrals” especially in January, February and March (when Mr & Mrs Claus holiday in The Bahamas) and Lapland is a treasure trove of outdoor wonder and activity. For adults, Lapland can be exactly what you need for your winter retreat.
Here are our top 17 things to do in Lapland that don’t include Father Christmas:
The crackle of logs burning in the stove
It has taken me an absolute age to write this blog because I can’t quite find the right words to describe the feeling of returning to a warm winter cabin after an active day spent engaged in winter’s Nordic activities. The deep snow serves to deaden noise so very often the only sound you’ll hear from outside is the wind and, on calm nights, it is almost eerily quiet beyond the doors of your wooden enclave. Inside, you get a sort of “Homestead on the Range” sensation which is enhanced by the crackle of logs burning in the stove and the creaking of the broad timbers from which the cabin is constructed.
I woke up this morning in my cosy Northern Lights Cabin and looked out of the window to see the sun shining down on the far side of the river.
I went to Harriniva to see my guests. They were super excited as they were about to go out on a 17km Husky Safari. I was telling them all about our 420 dogs and their smiles got bigger the more I told them.
Being one of those people who tends to plan their day around meals and loves to try out new food, one of my favourite parts about travelling to Lapland is sampling the Scandinavian food which is rich, varied and plentiful.
In the depths of Northern Finland and Sweden, food is (logically!) sourced firstly from the landscape – fish are caught in the lakes, reindeers are bred in the forest and berries and mushrooms are foraged from the ground. This gives the food here a natural and fresh taste and I love the fact that the meals here feel so hearty and wholesome.
The very first dish I enjoyed on a visit here was a simple one – sautéed reindeer with mashed potatoes and lingonberries, but in the bitingly cold arctic environment it was, quite honestly, perfect.
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