The Artisan Blog
As we enter the winter months, it can be tempting to simply wrap ourselves in a blanket and curl up in front of the television. But here at Artisan Travel, we believe that winter is a great season to get out and explore some incredible destinations and experience some wonderful bucket list activities.
As the summer sun begins to fade and the dark nights start to return, some travellers might be tempted to pack their passport away for another year. However, we believe there are plenty of reasons to be excited about the arrival of the winter months.
Now don’t get us wrong we love sunny escapes to places such as Croatia, Madeira and the Azores and there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy some of the last of the summer sun if you want. However, what these destinations can’t offer, as excellent as they may be, is the chance to enjoy some truly great bucket list, Arctic experiences.
Cold, dreary weather, post-festive season torpor, and back-to-work blues; welcome to the joys of January. How do we recommend you cure your mood?
Start planning your 2018 adventures of course!
We have a vast variety of bucket list holidays all around the world, skilfully designed by our Travel Experts with you in mind. We'll take you from the wilds of Finland to the sun-drenched island of Gozo; the fjords of Iceland and Norway to the volcanic paradise of the Azores.
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.
Today is the United Nation's International Day of Happiness and as expected the World Happiness Report 2017 was released. Here at Artisan Travel, we are thrilled to see that Norway was crowned the happiest country on Earth. However, we are actually not very surprised, as we can see why those who live and travel there fall in love with the magic and wonder it beholds.
Here’s why we love Norway!
Continued from TIME TO MAN-UP (PART 1)
Option 1: Go directly from the sauna into an icy plunge pool
It feels like being overcome by a panic attack
Believe it or not, this is the easy option!
From the comfort of a warm sauna........
(Image: Visit Finland)
Rush from the warmth of the sauna and submerse your body in the icy waters of a purpose built plunge pool – essentially, a big hole in the ice! The secret is to just go for it, hesitation can often result in failure and a dash back to the sauna's toasty sanctuary.
Time for my Fellow Northumbrian to "Man-Up"
I thoroughly enjoyed watching the recent program on ITV called The Land of the Midnight Sun featuring Alexander Armstrong but felt little empathy for his winter swim in the Norwegian Sea near Tromsø.
Tromsø’s position on Norway’s west coast means that thanks to the Gulf Stream it is generally warmer than other towns and cities located at similar latitudes. As Armstrong stripped down to just his swimming trunks, the temperature was -4°C and as he strode purposefully into the icy, grey waters the sea temperature was an admittedly chilly -1°C (the salt content means that sea water has a lower freezing point than fresh). That’s pretty cold by anybody’s standards but compared to what goes on elsewhere in Northern Scandinavia, this was a walk in the park on a balmy late summer evening.
One of the more memorable evenings of my visit to Northern Norway was spent in the home of a local fisherman who specialised in King Crab.I will admit right from the start that I on the whole don't eat seafood, but still found this whole evening a wonderful local experience.
King Crabs are rather famous on the north coast of Norway, namely in Kirkenes and the North Cape of the country.
Despite their immense popularity as a local delicacy, we learnt that King Crabs are not native to this region and were in fact introduced artificially by Soviet Scientists in the 1960s to provide a new valuable catch for Russian fishermen. Their native home is the Barents Sea surrounding Alaska where the population is declining, despite strict fishing controls, yet here on the coast of Norway they are thriving.
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....
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