Jane chilling with her new furry friend in Köngäs © Jane Grisman
Jane Grisman, writer and editorial support at Lonely Planet, is just back from a snowy escape in Lapland.
Tell us more… I spent a magical week in Finnish Lapland with my boyfriend and his family after Christmas. We stayed in a chalet in Levi (also known as Sirkka), which is the largest ski resort in Finland.
In a nutshell… Lapland truly is a real life winter wonderland, for adults as well as children. It may be the home of Father Christmas, but there is far more than just festive cheer on offer. With its frozen lakes, snowy mountains, frosty forests and the breathtaking Northern Lights, the natural beauty of Finnish Lapland really did take my breath away.
The Christmas markets at Levi © Jane Grisman
Defining moment? Surviving snowmobiling! It turns out that if you travel at 40mph in temperatures of minus 25°C, the wind chill factor at night brings a whole new level of cold to the experience. Minus 25°C plummeted to minus 40°C, and within the first 30 minutes of the 3 hour snowmobile safari, I’d lost all feeling in my fingers and icicles had formed on my eyelashes. It was an incredible experience, but not for the fainthearted.
Good grub? Reindeer hot dogs are a tasty snack. We grabbed a freshly cooked reindeer hotdog and a mug of hot Glöggi at the traditional Christmas market in Levi. Glöggi is the Finnish version of mulled wine, infused with spices, raisins and almonds – very welcome in sub-zero temperatures.
So, learn anything new? The Sami are the only indigenous people recognised by the European Union. The Samiland Exhibition at the Levi Summit Congress Centre gave us a fascinating insight into the history of the Sami and their way of life. We took a cable car up the mountain to the indoor and outdoor exhibition, stopping to feed the reindeer along the way, and explored the traditional Sami buildings which show how Sami people have lived through the ages.
On a husky safari in Köngäs © Jane Grisman
Favourite activity? Finland has a huge range of winter activities on offer, but husky sledging was by far my favourite. We took a 10km safari in Köngäs, just north of Levi, and drove our own dog sleds which was amazing. Racing over snow-drenched fields gave us breathtaking panoramic views of Lapland. Seeing how excited the huskies were before, during and after the ride made the safari an unforgettable experience!
Bizarre encounter? Daylight – a rare sight in winter. On our first day, sunrise was at 12:21pm and sunset was 12:27pm, so we only had 6 minutes of daylight. It sounds a lot more drastic than it was though, as twilight lasts for around 5-6 hours so there was still plenty of time to explore and soak up the stunning sunrises.