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Finland

When I originally sang along with the Pythons (“Finland Finland Finland, the country where I want to be”) I didn’t realise how much I’d come to agree with that sentiment. My trip to Lapland in winter was one of the most memorable experiences in my life, and I can’t wait to go back and see it in other seasons as well — especially if it coincides with the semi-annual reindeer herding!


Bashing Through the Ice in a 3500-Ton Ship

Standing on the bow of the Sampo icebreaker ship, I looked out “to sea.” That sea was a frozen, barren stretch of ice that stretched all the way to the horizon, only broken by lines of churned-up ice left by the ship’s previous excursions. It looked as though we should be stuck, hemmed in as…

Snowmobiling on the Icy Gulf of Bothnia

Standing in the middle of the frozen wasteland of the Gulf of Bothnia, I felt like I could have been a thousand miles to the north. Sure, in the distance I could see a small windfarm, slowly spinning away in the light Lappish breeze, but when I turned away from it I was greeted with…

Nearly Being Steamed to Death…in the SnowCastle?

Never did I imagine that a stay in the SnowCastle would result in me nearly passing out from heat exhaustion. As I curled up in my Arctic sleeping bag, leaving only my nose and mouth poking out into the -5C air inside my little dome of a room, the only thing I could think of…

Enjoying the Moment at the Arctic Snow Hotel

After having spent four of the previous five nights standing outside in seriously cold temperatures until well past midnight, it wouldn’t have been surprising if I couldn’t muster up much excitement about yet another cold night. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. Yes, I was tired, but the adrenalin had kept me going…

Cross-Country Skiing…Without Falling Over!

I’m just a little bit clumsy. I’ve fallen into a parked car, giving myself a concussion in the process. I’ve dislocated my toe on the Tongariro Crossing, having to hobble the final 2km so I could catch my bus. Last year, I planned to try cross-country skiing, only to break my leg before I got…

Being a Big Kid at Santa Claus Village

Sometimes I feel like my entire trip to Lapland was simply an excuse to indulge my inner child for a month. After all, I spent the entire time playing in heaping piles of snow, trying to make up for the fact that the first time I saw any snow stick to the ground was just…

Officially Licensed to Drive a Reindeer Sled

In the 1960s, a massive change swept across Finland. The Americans had finally perfected their design of a vehicle for recreational use on the snow — the snowmobile. While it has always been seen as a fun toy — sort of like a jet ski — in North America, the Ski-Doo imported by a schoolteacher…

Ice Karting: Channeling My Inner Yoshi

MarioKart is one of my favourite games ever. Since it originally came out on the SNES, I’ve loved zooming around the tracks (always as Yoshi), tossing turtle shells at people and avoiding the inevitable strings of bananas piled all over the track. Don’t tell Finland, but I’d rather play MarioKart than Angry Birds if given…

Dozing Off Under the Northern Lights…What Could Be Better?

Watching the northern lights is an experience that is truly beyond words. There’s not really a way to describe the feeling of staring up at the sky as it explodes into colour, at first cloudlike and faintly white before it slowly morphs into green (and sometimes pink, purple, and gold) streaks across the sky. There…

Dashing Through the Snow…On a Saddled Finnish Horse

What comes to mind when you think of animals in Lapland? Reindeer? Huskies? Polar bears (and no, they don’t actually live there)? One animal I certainly wouldn’t have thought of before I went to Finnish Lapland was the horse. Like the cows that didn’t last very long in Honningsvåg, I thought horses wouldn’t survive in…
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