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Last week, when I posted about how I quit my job to be closer to my family, I mentioned that I had a trip starting nine days after I arrived. This will be the longest, most epic trip of my five-month sojourn to Europe, and I know I will need a good portion of April, which I’ll be spending with my family back in England, to get over it.
As you might have guessed from this post’s title, this trip is to Lapland!
You would be forgiven for thinking that my not-to-successful trip to Swedish Lapland last year would have made me a bit gun shy about going back. After all, I broke my leg and spent long, sleepless nights gazing out the window at clouds that refused to part to let me see the green lights dancing behind.
On the flip side, I also spent a day with the most adorable husky team ever, sledding through an enchanting, snowy landscape. I got to jump naked into the snow. And best of all, I got to experience the complete silence of an Arctic winter’s night, a profound silence that you can never know in a city.
Plus, having grown up in Texas and migrated to Brisbane, I’ve never truly experienced snow. Sure, we got snow once every ten years in Houston, but it melted as soon as it hit our outstretched hands, destroying our dreams of creating a monster snowball to throw at our siblings. This means I’m still fascinated by places as snowy and well, Arctic, as the Arctic Circle. Still, this won’t stop me from taking a knee brace to protect me from the occasional fall…and some Yaktrax to try to stop those falls in the first place!
Initially, I planned on heading back to Swedish Lapland, but once I started putting my trip together, I knew it would be silly to limit my trip to one country. How could I miss the fjords of Norway or the wide open fells covered by Finnish reindeer?
Instead, I decided to try to split my travel roughly evenly between the countries. That plan worked until I realised that the Sami Easter Festival — a festival with its own Eurovision contest and where tourists can compete in reindeer races — was being held in Norway at the end of my trip. No way I was going to miss that!
As a result, my itinerary ended up looking a bit like a spiral…
My trip is all about winter adventures, many of which can only be found in the Arctic.
In the Lofoten Islands, where my trip starts, I will be going for a chilly snorkel in the fjords. I’m still not certain this is a good idea!
In Tromsø, I will be snowshoeing under the northern lights one night with Tromsø Villmarkssenter and dogsledding, snowmobiling, and staying in a Sami tent in the wilderness, courtesy of Lyngsfjord Adventure, the next. I will also be watching the bearded seals of the Polaria Aquarium courtesy of Visit Tromsø.
I’m looking forward to two cruises on Hurtigruten from Lofoten-Tromsø and Tromsø-Honningsvåg. In Honningsvåg I will do a day trip to Nordkapp, which at 71° north is the northernmost point on the European mainland.
Once I cross into Finland, Visit Finland has helped to organise an amazing itinerary for me. In my first stop, Inari, I will visit Siida, the museum of the Sami, and stay in the Hotel Kultahovi right next to some river rapids that I hope to photograph at night. On top of that, I’ll be visiting a reindeer farm and learning how to cook Lappish delicacies with Visit Inari!
Then I’ll be going on an overnight husky trip with Kamisak Farm where I’ll learn how to mush my own team. Having spent some time with huskies last year, I can’t wait to get close to the dogs again!
In Kakslauttanen, I will be staying in one of the coolest pieces of architecture ever — a glass igloo where I can lie down and watch the northern lights from the comfort of a warm room! When I’m not doing that, I’ll be channeling my inner Yoshi as I race around an ice karting track. I’ll have to restrain myself from throwing banana peels at people!
In Kemi, my last stop in Finland, I will be spending a night in the stunning — but cold — SnowCastle before snowmobiling out to the Sampo icebreaker ship, where I’ll get to put on a thermal survival suit and float in the Gulf of Bothnia!
Once I cross into Sweden and visit the church village in Luleå, I’ll be heading north to Jokkmokk, where I’ll be reuniting with Arctic Husky Adventures and going on a day trip with Karin and Liza Minnelli. I’ll also be revisiting the Northern Lights Apartments in Porjus…and hopefully not breaking my leg on the way!
I’ll be spending a night on the ice blocks of the original IceHotel in Jukkasjärvi and hopefully taking a class in ice carving the next day.
Finally, I’ll spend a few days at the Sami Easter Festival in Norway, heading back across the border to Finland to sleep because I didn’t book a hotel in time. I think that part of my trip is going to be a real adventure, especially if I get to race some reindeer!
Even though that sounds like a huge amount, it’s only a sample of what I’ll be doing during the day. My nights are fully booked for northern lights watching, and I’m hoping that the clouds clear at least once during the month that I will be there. Fingers crossed the great weather that Abisko has been having — where they’ve been able to see the northern lights for 14 days straight — sticks around!