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The Artisan Blog
Usually, when the Artisan team travel to Finnish Lapland we visit during the winter season between the end of November and the beginning of April. However, this year we were given the opportunity to travel to Finland and Norway in the month of May. Lapland in spring provides a very different type of trip to the ones that we offer in the winter months.
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!
At this time of year, the sun does not set in Northern Norway. Whilst slightly disorientating at first, I soon came to really enjoy the never-ending days and the opportunities this opened. In this time of the Midnight Sun, Norwegians sleep less – they fish, they kayak, they BBQ, they island hop – more daylight means more time to enjoy the splendours of the land and socialise until the early hours.
At around 11.30pm the sun dips toward, but never quite reaches, the horizon. The Norwegian fjords and mountains are bathed in a pinkish golden glow and the scenery looks all the more idyllic, exuding a sense of warmth and serenity. As strange as it sounds, one of my favourite things to do was to simply sit on the water’s edge and enjoy the colours of the light.
One of the key highlights of the trip was the chance to spend time on the island of Senja. Having listened to colleagues rave about it for years, it was a place I was eager to see. I can confirm that it does indeed live up to the hype.
It didn’t really occur to me until afterwards, but to see a whale in the wild is truly a magnificent experience.
We were lucky enough to see four sperm whales up close off the coast of Norway (although, as Daniele our guide pointed out to us, your eyes play tricks with you at sea and what feels like 20 metres away is more like 80) and it makes you feel overwhelmingly humbled to witness an animal that has swum in our oceans for more than 5 million years.
The adjective ‘beautiful’ is banned in our office so I have had to delve into my thesaurus to accurately describe what I thought of Norway on my recent stay. Glorious, splendid, gorgeous, lovely and stunning are a good way to start, but perhaps most accurately, my overall thoughts on the parts of Norway we explored were that they were so easy on the eye that it was almost laughable.
"We come from the land of the ice and snow, from the midnight sun where the hot springs blow."
I've always wanted to incorporate Led Zeppelin into one of my blogs and the opening lines from their classic "Immigrant Song" presented the perfect opportunity.
Singer Robert Plant was inspired to write the lyrics when the band played in Iceland 1970 and this remarkable island has continued to inspire ever since.
I have been lucky enough to visit Tromsø in Norway several times in recent years, both in the summer and winter months, and I really like the city. It has a lot to attract people, including some mind-blowingly good restaurants, lively bars, cute little shops and a really beautiful harbour area.
I thought I had seen most of what Tromsø and the surrounding area had to offer, but it was only on my recent visit last summer that I learnt of the island of Senja....