How it all started
My trip to the Arctic Circle
Are you wondering how I got to Lapland?
I also asked myself that when I was on the plane to Rovaniemi.
Rova … where? – Yes, exactly!
I also had no idea what to expect.
In March 2011 I had my first day of work after vacation. I had just flown in from Dubai when the company called me and told me that I had a change in the roster. OK, no problem – it happened every now and then, so it was nothing out of the ordinary. But when I was told on the phone that I should pack my bags, because RVN is going to go for four days from tomorrow, I was a bit puzzled. The destination didn’t mean anything to me and I knew that it wasn’t one of our everyday destination airports. I asked kindly: “Where should I go?” “Rovaniemi”! „Rova … where?“ i asked. “I’ve never heard that before, where is that?” And the voice on the other end replied, “In Finland! Strictly speaking, on the Arctic Circle! “
That the cell phone didn’t fall out of my hand was everything. I could not believe it. ME, THE SUN WATER IN THE ARCTIC CIRCLE ??? – NO WAY!!! I just came from plus 30 degrees of sun, beach and sea and should now be flying north to minus 30 degrees of cold, snow and darkness? I was shocked! At that point in time, I had no idea what fantastic adventures were waiting for me and what great gift the company would give me with it.
The next day it was time to get on the plane and head north for four hours. The aircraft had been chartered by a large German automobile company because they wanted to carry out the “moose tests” in Lapland for their new car models. Since it was not worth flying home again for us as a crew, we were allowed to spend the four days in Rovaniemi.
My plan was actually that I would hide in the hotel room during the time on site, have room service come every day, enjoy the advantages of the Finnish sauna from time to time and just not stand in front of the door. Minus 30 degrees, but definitely not with me. But the captain saw it differently. As a cock in the basket (the rest of the crew was female) he had big plans for us girls
and told us as soon as we arrived at the hotel what great things we should do. Everything in me screamed: “No, please don’t go out”, but my heart said: “You will never again have the opportunity to explore the fascinating beauty of Lapland, because you will never fly here again voluntarily.” Well, I’ll be there! And so the four of us spent an unforgettable time in
beautiful Lapland. At this point I would like to thank one of my favorite captains “Stani”. If anyone from EW should read this, please order them my best wishes. If it hadn’t been for him and motivated us to go out into the cold, I would have missed the magic moment of my life! I thank you from the bottom of my heart – but more on that later!
Brief fact check on Rovaniemi
Rovaniemi is the capital of Lapland. It is a modern city known for its northern lights and for its proximity to the Arctic Circle. Rovaniemi is also called the gateway to the north, as it is not only the important shopping center for the settlements in the area, but also a tourist destination. As the largest city in Europe, the administrative urban area covers a very wide area of 8017 km², of which most of this area is only very sparsely populated. The city has a beautiful center that can be explored on foot. Lots of restaurants and
Bars invite the locals and tourists to linger. As cold as the temperatures outside in winter may be, the Finnish hospitality will melt every heart. We felt very welcome and I would recommend everyone to visit Lapland once in a lifetime – and from a sun worshiper!
Find out tomorrow how the journey continued and what great adventures we were allowed to experience.
to be continued …
Wild animals, snowmobiles and the fascination of the northern lights
On the first morning of our trip, we were kindly greeted by bright sunshine, so that the freezing temperatures were bearable. We were on the way to Ranua to visit the Wildlife Park. I was fascinated by the beautiful landscape somewhere in nowhere. As far as the eye could see only snow-covered forests and meadows that glittered like millions of crystals in the sunlight. The calm that the surroundings exuded was impressive. About 50 different species of wildlife and 200 different animals live in Ranua Wildlife Park. All animals live in spacious enclosures along the 2.8 km long park path in the middle of the surrounding nature and forest. Most of the way is built on wooden walkways,
is easy to walk through and offers an unobstructed view of the animals. In winter the park offers its guests a free sledge rental so that the children can have even more fun and have a great time in the wildlife park. To learn more about the animals, flora and fauna of the park, we borrowed an audio guide and the tour could start. We walked from enclosure to enclosure along the wooden walkway and enjoyed the local animals. Observing snow owls, arctic foxes, wolves and lynx in their natural habitat was unique. Along the path we finally came to the enclosure that I was most looking forward to: the polar bears. I was impressed by your stature and size and it was breathtaking to get so close.
A tip: between November and January, a visit to the Ranua Wildlife Park should be planned before 2 p.m. so that you can still see the animals in daylight. There is no lighting in the park, as the aim is to keep the environment for the animals as natural as possible.
We ended our visit to the park with a small warming snack at a shelter with an open fireplace that could be found along the way. The strengthening was also urgently needed, because our day should go on with much more action.
Next stop: Snowmobile rental
To be honest, I was a bit skeptical and also afraid that we’d borrowed a snowmobile for two days. But as soon as the crew was briefed, it was an amazing feeling to “heat” through the winter landscape. The combination of cold, sun on our faces, endless landscapes and just hearing the noises of the engines was a lot of fun for all of us. Our guide
took us to wonderful places and told us a lot about the beautiful surroundings around Rovaniemi. It was particularly important to him to emphasize that the snowmobile operators care about which routes are driven so that the landscape is not destroyed and in spring, when the snow has melted, it could bloom again in full glory.
Exhausted from the cold, but intoxicated by all the impressions, we reached our hotel in the late afternoon. I think we girls were all happy to be back in the nice warm hotel room when the captain asked: “I’ll go out after dinner to watch the northern lights. Do you wanna join? “
And again the head and the heart came into conflict: “Should I go out the night when the temperatures drop again? – Not in life! ”Said the head. The heart was excited again and cried: “Well, of course! Experience the natural spectacle of the northern lights once – when does it start? “
Three hours later, incl. In my warm outfit, which would have been enough for an expedition to Mars, we left the lights of the city behind and walked further and further into the darkness of the night. It was bitterly cold. After a walk of about 3 km we finally arrived at our lookout point. An ice-cold wind did not make the situation any better, and so did we
waited, waited and waited! But nothing happened – nothing at all! I tried to ignore the cold by thinking that a week ago I was still at 30 degrees on the beach in Dubai and tried to transfer the comfortably warm feeling to my body now, but unfortunately that didn’t work. I felt like Olaf the snowman from the Disney movie “Frozen”.
If someone had nudged me, I would probably have slipped to the side like a large piece of ice. After what felt like an eternity, we noticed a change in the sky. What was just deep black was slowly becoming greener. Wave-like movements were clearly visible in the night sky. Indeed, it was worth the wait:
Aurora Borealis in its absolute perfection. Looking up, I forgot time and space. What one had seen so often on television or in pictures, I was now able to experience live and in color. The cold and the shivering of the last few hours were forgotten. Body, mind and soul were filled with the purest humility, fascination and beauty.
This event is of course one of my travel highlights that I will not forget in life.
But my magic moment shouldn’t take place until the next day.
to be continued …
Huskies, reindeer and my
The next morning it was time again: into the monosuit and back up on the snowmobile. In the most beautiful sunshine we explored the landscape again with the aim of visiting a husky farm. After we drove back and forth through the area we reached the farm after a short time. From the distance you could already hear the “howling” of the huskies, who were waiting to be finally harnessed to the sled to do their daily lap. The dogs were absolutely delighted to see us, because they knew that it would start soon. As soon as we arrived we exchanged snowmobiles for dog sleds and the wild ride started. Of course the dogs didn’t have as much power as a snowmobile, but it was impressive to see how fast 6 huskies can move you. During the journey, the guide explained to us the order in which the dogs were harnessed to the sled. Seen in this way, it is like a small pack with a lead dog, stronger, leading and weaker dogs, but together they make the perfect synthesis. We enjoyed being led through the landscape by the dogs – sometimes at a faster, sometimes at a slower pace.
At this point it should be said: if you get involved in a dog sled ride, you should accept a small fragrance brand. Since the dogs run in front of you and the wind is carried backwards, there is always a somewhat stricter scent mark in the air. Anyone who knows the smell of the “wet dog” in their home country knows what I’m talking about.
Back at the husky farm, we warmed up with hot tea by the campfire. Then we were allowed to explore the farm and stroke and hug the dogs, some of which were running around freely and some were in enclosures. I especially remember the little puppies who wanted to be cuddled and played with all the time.
Then it was time again: up on the snowmobile and on to the next destination. After the dogs, the reindeer were waiting for us.
Next Stop: Reindeer Farm
When we arrived at the reindeer farm at noon, numerous reindeer and reindeer herders in traditional costumes were waiting for us. They gave us a warm welcome and first of all invited us to lunch. The menu said: Reindeer – what else !? Seriously, reindeer? The cute animals that give us their
When button eyes had just greeted us, should we eat now? Different countries – different customs! And how unfriendly it would have been to refuse hospitality. Let’s go! Since I had eaten different types of meat in many countries,
I should now eschew the typical saying “Reindeer tastes like chicken!”, but that would be a lie. Since we ate a kind of goulash, I couldn’t even define the pure meat taste. After lunch we went out to see the animals. We were allowed to stroke them and everything became us
explained about reindeer. They were just so cute and if you approached them carefully they were really trusting. We quickly turned a short lap in the sledge over the area and already it was dawn again.
We made our way home and were sad to hand over our beloved snowmobiles. They had taken us to so many fantastic places and also brought us so much joy. Our guide noticed our sadness and asked: “Hey, do you want to do a snowmobile tour at night?”
We refused, because tomorrow we were heading back to Germany. But he didn’t give up: “No problem, go to the hotel, warm up and come back later!” The offer was tempting, but again the cost was overwhelming. It was
Hotel provided by the airline, but any food and leisure activities had to be borne by us personally. Anyone who has ever been to Scandinavia knows how expensive it is to make a living in these countries. And, of course, extraordinary activities like the ones we experienced also have their price. Still we were
hooked on the idea of chasing through the area on our snowmobile in complete darkness. The crew looked at each other and everyone agreed – we’ll be back later!
It was so dark that you couldn’t see your own hand in front of your eyes. And in this case it is not the well-known phrase, but fact. I had never seen anything like that before. When the snowmobile headlights went out, it was dark – DARK! We were in deepest Lapland: no street lamps, no house lights – NOTHING! It was scary in a way. If you looked to the right or left from your snowmobile, you looked into the deep black. You had no feeling whether there might be a bush in a short distance or whether there was the kilometer-long plain next to you. Only the headlight that was directed forward gave an idea of the way. Of course I was frozen again after a very short time, but unlike the day before, my adrenaline level kept me busy. Later we came to a small refuge on the edge of the forest. Our guide lit a campfire and we warmed up again with tea. After everyone was ready for the return trip, the guide said that we would take a different route back than we had come. He really wanted to show us something with the “nice weather”. “He is funny,” I thought. “What does nice weather mean here? It’s just pitch black. ”
At some point we reached the place where the guide wanted to take us. He slowed down and finally stopped. We had no idea where we were and we stopped. Before the lights were switched off, he explained to us that we were pretty much in the middle of a huge frozen lake and that there was nothing but frozen water for miles around us. He wanted to give us a feeling for the dimensions in which we were currently. But I wasn’t prepared for what awaited us!
The lights of the snowmobiles went out, the eyes quickly got used to the darkness and the gaze was directed upwards. What my eyes saw there was conducted with an energy through my whole body, so that I was stunned and speechless! I had never seen anything so breathtaking before in my life!
If I said that I saw a starry sky, that would be the understatement of the century. The galaxy shone above me with millions and millions of stars. Now I understood why it was so important to the guide that we understood the dimensions in which we were currently. Because completely speechless, I could only move my head from right to left in slow motion. I was frozen. But this time not from the cold, but from perfection. That was beyond anything I had ever experienced before. If you turned in a circle, you could see the round, spherical bulge on the horizon. It wasn’t like a sky, it was like floating in the middle of the universe.
At this point it should be said that I have been interested in astronomy, astrology, spirituality and the universe since my earliest youth. All that I had read in books for years suddenly became real and I was right in the middle of it. At that moment I understood so much about life and could have cried with happiness and fulfillment – my magic moment.
Nobody said a word. It was so quiet that all you could hear was the cracking of the snow and ice. After everyone had recovered, it was very quiet back to the hotel. Everyone first had to process what they were allowed to experience there, on a very normal day, in the middle of the nocturnal nature of Lapland.
to be continued …
It’s time to say goodbye
Still blessed by the events of the previous night, it was now time to pack your suitcase and concentrate on the return flight. In the afternoon we went back to Germany on duty and our passengers expected excellent service, as they were used to from the outbound flight. But before it was called “Back to Reality” we plunged deeper into the enchanted atmosphere of Lapland.
We had a very special appointment with a very special person: Santa Claus himself! Everyone knows that Santa Claus lives with his Christmas elves in the Arctic Circle and how could we miss the chance while we’re here. So get into the taxi (unfortunately no snowmobile this time) and off to Santa.
About 8 km from Rovaniemi is the Santa Claus Village, or rather, the residence of Santa Claus. He spends his time in Santa Claus Village every day in order to fulfill the mission of his life: to promote the well-being of all children and the good-naturedness of adults, but also to spread the message of love and kindness as well as the Christmas spirit worldwide.
When we entered the area I felt like a little child again and was very excited to meet Santa Claus in person. How is he? Does he speak german? What do you want me to say to him? And what will he saying to me? Crazy how these beautiful surroundings can make even an adult dream again.
But before we entered Santa’s house, we crossed the Arctic Circle. On the site there are stone pillars on which a light strip is attached and a floor marking. This is exactly where the Arctic Circle runs. It is the latitude of the earth, north of 66 ° 33′45.9 “E-Time. It is the southernmost degree of latitude where the sun stays above or below the horizon for 24 hours: these phenomena are called the midnight sun in summer and polar night in winter.
A large wooden front door opened and we were in Santa Claus’ house. Many corridors and steps later we were standing in front of his living room door. A Christmas elf asked us to be patient before the private audience with Santa Claus could start. Everyone was excited and wondering what was about to happen. But then the door was opened and Santa Claus was sitting on a large armchair by his fireplace.
As expected from Santa Claus, he greeted us with his warmth and invited us to sit down next to him. He asked us where we were from and what would lead us to Rovaniemi. After that, the conversation continued in German, because Santa speaks every language in the world. We told him about our incredible events that we had been able to experience in the last few days and then it was time to say goodbye again.
I will never forget his words, which he gave us with a wink when we said goodbye:
“See you at Christmas – ho ho ho!”
We left Santa Claus village with a smile on our faces and it was clear to me that if I should ever have a family and children, then I will come again!
And so a perfect trip ended perfectly!