The Artisan Blog
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.
The world’s first ICEHOTEL was founded in 1989, and for 27 years it has been constructed from ice taken from the frozen Torne River in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden - destined to melt away come spring for the process to be repeated the following year. This year welcomes an addition to this cycle with the construction of the fantastic new ICEHOTEL® 365- a year-round icy experience.
Over the last couple of weeks, Finland has been receiving some exceptionally good coverage around the world and has won the accolade of being named the safest country to visit by the Worlds Economic Forum and the Third Best Country to Visit by Lonely Planet (to be honest we’d have had it even further up the list there!). Here at Artisan, we are thrilled that one of our absolute favourite destinations is getting the exposure it deserves.
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:
Even before setting off for the Azorean island of Sao Miguel I was filled with anticipation about the prospect of swimming with dolphins in the Atlantic Ocean. I knew that it wouldn’t be a sanitised marine park experience and, as with everything involving Mother Nature, the extent of my contact with these supremely intelligent animals would be very much in the lap of the gods. It was even possible that I wouldn’t see any dolphins at all but regardless, there were a few butterflies dancing in my stomach. After all, it’s not every day you get to tick off another animals item is it?
It is only when flying over the Greenlandic Ice Cap that the sheer vast wilderness of the country strikes home. Of course, I knew all the stats, this is a country the size of Western Europe with a population of a large town in the UK. But still, when I flew over on a beautiful clear day, with hundreds and hundreds of miles of Ice and mountain below me, the utter scale became apparent. It is very much the Arctic I imagined as a child.
Ilulissat directly translated means ‘Iceberg’, and indeed the UNESCO protected Icefjord is the reason most people come here. Immediately on arrival at the hotel, I could see 2 huge icebergs, floating a few miles away along the coast. From a distance, they looked big…but nothing compared to the epic proportions, which become apparent up close to these imposing ice sculptures.
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.