FOR Emma Hofmeyer and Leonie Harris of Shepparton it was on their bucket list to visit Finland and see the Northern Lights.
Leonie had been fascinated by the lights for many years and finally convinced Emma to make the trip to see them.
Flying via Singapore, they landed in Helsinki before travelling onto Ivalo then Kakslauttenen resort where they had a glass igloo. You could see through the roof and it was a great way to view the night sky and the Northern Lights. They were there for three nights but each night it was overcast, so no lights in the sky.
The resort had lots to do with its wooden Finnish saunas, snow sledding with Huskies, riding snowmobiles and the opportunity to sample some great food. Emma said the salmon was so fresh it was wonderful, and you could wash it down with hot blueberry juice and dark rye bread.
Their next stop was Inari in Finnish Lapland, where they visited a Sami Village and met with the local indigenous people.
Their accommodation was in an old school house on the edge of a frozen lake. The school building had been converted into a lodge.
That night they headed out onto the frozen lake in snowmobiles and as they travelled across the lake there they were, the Northern Lights up above.
Emma and Leonie could not believe their eyes. The whole night sky was covered with the greenish glow. There was a special feel to the experience. In Finnish mythology it’s said the lights are caused by an arctic fox swishing its tail across the night sky.
Sometimes the light may only appear for a few minutes but that night it was out to play and danced across the sky for three hours. Emma said it was just incredible.
The actual cause of the lights is not known but it’s thought it is caused by the solar winds interacting with the Earth’s atmosphere.
It was cold out on the frozen lake, but their guide Matias assured them that this was in Finnish terms a heat wave…it was only minus 13. The week before it had been minus 29.
They stayed for three nights and the Northern Lights appeared on two of the three. It was just wonderful.
During the day they went exploring in the forest and found the rare wild grouse reindeer and fitted with snow shoes they went walking through the snow, which can be hard work.
Leaving the lodge, they took a bus South to Rovaniemi to visit Santa’s home. Rovaniemi was raised to the ground during WW11 but it was slowly rebuilt and became Santa’s home.
Emma and Leonie met Santa and had a photo taken with him. Emma was quick to point out that she had been very good and so had her nephews so they might get something nice next Christmas. You can also send postcards from Santa’s home to anywhere in the world and people come from all over the world to do just that.
They then took a ride on a snowmobile along a frozen river and visited a reindeer farm. It’s a great tourist attraction where you can get your reindeer drivers licence. The licence is valid for five years and you can hitch up a sled to a reindeer and drive away. Emma and Leonie said it was a lot of fun.
They made their way back to Helsinki where they spent a few days exploring the city’s attractions. It’s easy to get around on the trams just like Melbourne.
It was a wonderful holiday. The air is pristine and the Finnish people are so free. It’s definitely not a ‘nanny state.’ The ‘Fins’ will explain how it works and then it is up to you. They say things like that’s a sled, there are the huskies to pull the sled and then it’s all up to you.
Now that the Northern Lights are off the bucket list, what’s next? Well Emma always wanted to visit Easter Island and those giant statues. It looks like that’s on the list for next year.
Emma and Leonie would like to thank Lauren from Lyn McNaught Travel in Mooroopna for doing such a fantastic job in arranging everything.
Until next time,