27 February 2012

Lapland day 4

We had set our alarm at 2 and 4 in the night to see if the skies had cleared, but no such luck, snow kept falling through the night. We had to say goodbye to Lapland without really seeing the Northern lights.

After breakfast, it was time to say good bye to the new friends we made during these few days, 
wishing them luck to see the aurora as some where staying longer. 

Time to say goodbye to the sweet huskies too, they didn't mind the snow at all.

Some even preferred lying in the snow to lying in their doghouse.

 A taxi took us back to Ivalo airport over the snow covered roads.

Past the nice wooden houses in the nice red colour.

The airport was just as covered in snow as the country side we'd just driven through. Soon the machines set to work to clear the runway for the arrival of the plane which would take us back to Helsinki.

Without any delays we arrived in Helsinki, were we bought some nice goodies, reindeer sausages, Finnish cheese, some herbal teas, vodka with lingonberry, birch juice and chocolate with liquorice. I always thought the Dutch wee the only ones with a liking for liquorish, but I was clearly wrong.

This is us at Helsinki airport, happy but also bit sad, 
as we had had such a good time and would have loved to stay longer.

Back in Belgium we were welcomed by the setting sun. 
A nice ending to 4 wonderful days.

26 February 2012

Lapland day 3

A flying visit as this was was already our last full day in Lapland.

We had another lovely breakfast, with porridge and hot chocolate and much more

After breakfast it was time to go snow shoeing, I had in mind the  racket for tennis type thingies, but that has changed since than (of course what was I thinking)

So off we went, through the hills with our guide of the day; Lotta.

She explained that the fluffy bits, a kind of lichen, on the trees are called old's man beard. These only grow where the air is very good. There was a lot of old man's beard in the trees :)

We came across a coral full of reindeer, but they quickly scattered, so we did not get close look. 
Lotta said never ask a reindeer-herder herder how many reindeers he has, as it is the same as asking how much do you earn or what is in your bankaccount.

Beautiful birch bark, Lotta peeled some off, as kindle, to make a fire later.

Up the hill was though going but so well worth the view.

Time to let our snow shoes rest and have some lunch.

We all had been given a bag with a flask full of lovely warm berry juice and a pie and some sausages each. We heated them up over the fire and tasted just so good.

After lunch it was time to had back down, so much easier and with the sun coming out behind us, we hoped we would be lucky and see the Northern lights later.

Back at the hotel we had another look around the husky yard, 
where this cute little ball off fluff had appeared.

Time for a drink by the fire and another sauna. 

After dinner we went for a walk, the huskies had just returned from a trip a longer way away and were brought back on this truck, each in it's own washing machine ;)

We had heard there was going to be a wedding on Tuesday. 
The ceremony would be outside by the alter, carved from ice. 

It had starting snowing by than and we sat a bit in the shelter by the lake with the nice fire.
Wouldn't mind something like this in our garden.

And than we were off on the snow mobiles, we had some practise rounds around on the lake and than off through the woods, over more lakes. It was great. We ended up on the lake were we had been aurora hunting last night. But the snow kept falling, so clouded. again we could see there was a lot going on behind the clouds, were the clouds were thinner. 

Here's the proof, all of us, me and Robin on the far left, in front of the camera with a shutter time of 15 seconds; it did capture us with the green lights behind the clouds.

25 February 2012

Lapland day 2

As it was dark when we arrived at the Wilderness Hotel, we only saw where we had ended up in the morning. 

We had heard the howling and barking of the huskies and saw they were just outside our window behind the wooden fence/screen. I had waken up in the night and the sky was clear and full of stars, but no aurora. High hpes though that today we would be in more luck, as the activity rate of the sun was much higher.

After breakfast we got our  special suits on to keep us warm on our trip with the huskies. They were being put in front of the sledges and ready to go. 

Christophe, the French guy, who owned the 70 or so huskies explained to us how to ride the sledge. He also told the Sami don't have a tradition of using huskies and sledges to herd and follow the reindeer. 

Dogs were ready to go, Robin had taken position on the sledge and I had cuddled up inside, so off we were. 

It was just amazing, the frenzy of the dogs before going and than the quiet once we were through the trees and on the lake. You just heard the dogs running on the snow and the sledge, making the nice crunchy sounds as only snow can do that and otherwise just so so quiet.

After a couple of hours we stopped for a rest and a bite to eat. Christophe built a fire and handed around the chowder like fish soup which he brought along. There were just 8 in our party, 5 sledges in total, so no big crowd. 

Just another perfect view from our little campsite.

The dogs did a little nap on the ice and snow while we ate.

Time to get going again and cuddle up in the sledge :)

Back at the hotel we spend more time with the huskies and found there were 2 puppies too, they were soon after my gloves. Perfect ending to our day out with the huskies.

I enjoyed a nice sauna before dinner. After dinner it was back in our suits and of to the lake again to see if we could spot the aurora tonight. As the clouds had shifted regularly during the day we had high hopes they would do so too while we were there. But no such luck. We could vaguely see there was a lot going on behind the clouds and when one of our companions took some pictures with an exposure time of 20 sec, the sky and snow was all green in the picture. If only they would shift, those clouds.....well maybe tomorrow.

24 February 2012

Lapland day 1

Day one was all about travelling. 
We took the train to the airport in Brussels, were we got on a plane to Helsinki. When I noticed that we were flying along the Dutch coast, I spotted the village were I spend the first 18 years of my life: Wemeldinge.

It lies along the coast of the Oosterschelde and a canal runs through it which connects the Oosterschelde (Eastern Scheldt) with the Westerschelde (Western Scheldt)

After a couple of hours we landed in snow covered Helsinki. Half way there; as we now had to fly to Ivalo, way up North. We had a few hours and spend them looking around the shops, it was great to see many handmade items and local foods there. Making a mental-list what to get on our way back.

 Once on the plane the pilot told us they had a problem with the navigation and they had to fix it. So we had all the time in the world to watch the snow being shovelled and technicians come and go.

Finally, after more than 2 hours, they had located the defect part and got a spare one and we were on our way. As we were flying much later now we hoped to catch a glimpse of the Northern lights above the clouds, but no such luck :(

Ivalo is a nice small airport, much better than these huge ones were you're walking miles before you get anywhere. Outside a taxi from the Wilderness Hotel was waiting for us. 

When we were half way to the hotel, he got a phone call, he had forgotten one more person to stay at the hotel, so we went back and picked him up. after a long drive were we saw less and less houses and more and more trees and snow we arrived. The crew of the hotel had kept a lovely meal for us of reindeer with cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes.

As it was so clouded we didn't go aurora hunting that night but straight to bed in our cosy room, ready for the next day with the huskies.