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Northern Finland

PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2011 6:43 pm
by EleanorT
Just had Christmas with a difference this year - especially cold and dark - as we went to Inari, on the edge of the large lake in northern Finland. That of course meant that we missed the particularly white Christmas here in the West Country that melted and disappeared just before our arrival - such is life! Inari is quite a small village, and is where a big part (40%?) of the 600-odd population are Sami, and speak Inari Sami, as opposed to the other Sami languages, apparently each distinct to the point that they can't communicate one with the other. Not that I could tell the difference between Finnish and Sami let alone tell which Sami... With 4 hours of light, no sun and -30º on our arrival it was quite an experience, though unlike Helsinki and the UK where records of snowfall and temperatures were close to being broken, they'd had a lower than usual snowfall of 25cm or so. We did what one does as a tourist: a visit to a reindeer herder and husky farm (quite recently introduced for tourism, but the sleighing was really great fun), ice-fishing and snowmobiling, but the short days also allowed us to enjoy the sauna and a few good books. It is also far north enough to be sure to avoid the Santa-seeking crowds from England, though I'm not sorry to say that Santa did make an appearance, as is the tradition, at the slightly earlier time of just after supper on Christmas Eve (before he sets off around the rest of the world no doubt). I even sat on his knee: as I'd never have dared to do that when I was little I thought a little catching up was in order. Our chef and co-manager of the hotel we stayed in turned his hand to some Christmas tunes & jazz on the piano, revealing an unexpected musical talent. That is the full extent of the live music we heard in this one-week stay, but having listened to the advice of one or two people who looked like they might know, I came away with CDs by Ulla Pirttijaärvi, that I now see Charlie played a couple of times, Adjágas and Wimme. The village of Angeli, where Ulla Pirttijaärvi is from is just a bit to the west of Inari, near the Swedish border, and according to his sister, our manager/chef plays with her when she comes and performs in Inari. (He's also a master fisherman, if photos and business card are anything to go by. His record from the River Juutua, running alongside the hotel, is a 7 kilo trout.) This is a part of the world that I'd like to explore more - perhaps to coincide with a music festival - who knows...

Happy New Year everyone!

Re: Northern Finland

PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2011 8:57 pm
by garth cartwright
Great post, Ms E! Tho why anyone would pay to go somewhere even colder than London for Xmas I don't know (I was invited to Gothenburg but turned it down for that reason).

Re: Northern Finland

PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 6:57 pm
by EleanorT
Believe it or not once we realised we'd like to go away, only a month before, sun and warmth had been a priority... but with only 10 days max available and after a weekend spent on the internet looking for options that were no presenting themselves, I finally went for the other extreme. And in places like Finland they're sensible when it comes to coping with the cold - i.e. you barely ever feel it other than on the face. Our room was toasty warm and the sauna a real luxury. At the coldest, we did end up with funny frosty eye-lashes. But by the end of the week it had warmed so that temperatures were probably on a par with the -11º my parents had on Christmas Day! I'd rather that than go to Normandy, which is our usual alternative, where the thermostat is set at 10º (I'm not naming any names here!)

Re: Northern Finland

PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 2:16 pm
by kas
Ah, here is someone who gets the point of sauna!

I loved the account, Eleanor. We do indeed have record snow (or at least almost) here in Helsinki, for the second winter running. No record cold though which is good. And woolly sweaters and socks are also a wintertime must.

Also: we have learned to seal our houses against cold...