The Artisan Blog
It might still feel very much like autumn here in the UK but the snow has most definitely arrived in the Arctic Circle! The onset of the new winter season is something that we get very excited about here at Artisan Travel. Not only do the winter months allow for a whole range of exciting Arctic activities such as dog sledding, snowmobiling and snowshoeing, but they also give our clients some of the first opportunities to go in search of the Northern Lights!
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.
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 next twenty years are the blink of an eye"
Quotation source: My father on my 50th birthday (thanks for that dad!)
I love this photograph. It may not be the greatest composition in photographic history but, for me, it sums up exactly what the Artisan Travel Company is all about.
The picture was taken in Alaska, somewhere north of the Arctic Circle on the Dalton Highway (of Ice Road Truckers fame) and it is the moment I fully realised that I had well and truly ticked off my number one bucket list item.
Coldfoot, Alaska is a truck stop, little more. The 2010 census recorded that just 10 permanent residents live here and its name (formerly a mining camp called Slate Creek) is said to derive from a time when gold prospectors would labour this far north, get “cold feet” and head back home.
Coldfoot - A Tiny Slice of Alaskan History
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.
One of the first tasks I had when I joined The Artisan Travel Company was to spend two weeks acting as the company's representative in the tiny ski resort of Luosto. Travelling north of the Arctic Circle on my first assignment all seemed a bit daunting at first but I got to know Luosto and our suppliers very quickly and found myself falling very deeply in love with the place because it has just about everything you could ever want from a winter holiday.
As a Product Development Manager, I get to visit loads and loads of places but this very often has to be done reasonably quickly.
Spending 14 nights in the same destination allowed me to appreciate the slower way of life, to get to know the wonderfully friendly locals and take huge joy in the vast range of winter activities available in Luosto.
Arriving at Kittila Airport on a very late flight from the UK last December, I was happy in the knowledge that I had a very short transfer to get to my hotel. No sooner had my friendly Finnish taxi driver helped me into the car, he was then helping me out of it 5 minutes later as we arrived at the hotel. I was quickly checked into my room and tucked up in bed in anticipation of tomorrow's adventures.
I was met the following morning by my guide for the next two days, Jaakko. He was absolutely fantastic with the small group I joined and had obviously built up a brilliant rapport with the members despite the assortment of nationalities and ages.
This morning's activity was cross-country skiing and once we had established that no one in the group had actually done the activity before he led us through the very basic first steps of learning how to move around with the ski's attached to our feet. Once we got our balance and had learnt to stand up (!) we began a short circuit so we could practise negotiating the skiing tracks which run alongside almost all the footpaths in Northern Scandinavia.
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