I said goodbye to Vanessa the next morning and flew from Zurich Switzerland to Helsinki Finland where I connected and headed North to Rovaniemi Finland. The goal: to see the Northern Lights! When I set out on this ‘trip around the world’ the Northern Lights were at the top of my list of things to see. However as the year wore on, and I made my plans and was planning this last leg of the trip in Europe, to get up north seemed really expensive and risky since there would be no guarantee that I would even see the lights. Finally, two days before leaving for England, I shuffled my plans and booked my last weekend in Europe to be in Finland. It would definitely be something I look back on and regret if I didn’t at least try. After a year full of so many incredible dream come true experiences, I didn’t want to end it wondering, what if?
I arrived at 9:40pm on a Thursday. I checked into my hotel, a cute little chalet with a sauna in the room then booked it to the lake where there is often a good view of the aurora. I had intended to buy a tripod (which everything I read said is essential for photographing the lights) at the airport in Helsinki, but wasn’t able to find one. And let me tell you, they were right. There were some beautiful lights but it was difficult to take clear photos without a tripod. Regardless, I was so happy to be in Finland, and that the lights were visible on my first night. When I could no longer feel my toes, I walked back and came inside, to warm up in the sauna! I was inside around 1am, but the lights are visible all night and that’s why I’m here, so every 10 minutes or so I would go outside and take a look! I learned a lot on my first night ‘aurora hunting’ and had a list of things to prepare for the next night!
I slept from 3am to 9am, had breakfast, and then left to spend the day at the Santa Claus Village. First, I went to the husky park where I got to hold a brand new baby husky and could have cried! I went on a ‘dogsled’ ride around the forest, which was incredible. From there I went in to see Santa! You walk through the North Pole to meet him. We chatted for a few minutes (he didn’t ask me what I want for Christmas) we took a photo, and then I went to the Santa Claus Café for some hot chocolate.
I was also able to go feed reindeer and take a sleigh ride through the forest. Finland in the fall is enchanting. The sun peeks through the trees, and hits the ground covered in moss and mushrooms. Everything is frosty and glistening. I half expected to run into a fairy or troll. It was stunning.
Thats the arctic circle!
I stopped to get prepared for another night outside:
- mittens (I left mine in the taxi when I got dropped off)
- thermal socks
- A TRIPOD!
- Remember to bring headphones
I slept from 4pm to about 7pm, getting ready for another night aurora hunting! I went down to the lake at about 8:30pm, danced around listening to music (to keep warm) and playing around with the settings on my camera. The whole time I was out, there was at least a faint aurora which was incredible. This is the third or fourth night in a row that they’ve had ‘shows’ which isn’t that common so I was very fortunate. As the evening progressed the lights got brighter and more stunning. It often reflected on the lake which made it twice as bright and stunning.
One particular display started low in the middle of two islands in the middle of the lake, and grew and grew, going from dark green, to light green, to pink, to almost white, spreading all along the sky. It was incredible. The light danced and swirled above me. I got so excited to photograph it I had to remind myself to stop and take it all in. it was incredible. I lasted just under three hours before I couldn’t feel my toes and decided to turn in from the lake. I warmed up in my room, then ventured back out just outside my chalet. The lights were still out faintly, but became brighter and more magical! A pale green light shimmered over the trees and my chalet and was incredible! I couldn’t believe how stunning it was. After another hour the lights were settling down. I went to bed, knowing the lights were still dancing overhead, so grateful to be here in this fairytale place, after realizing another travel dream come true. The tripod really did make all the difference!
On my last full day in Finland I lounged around my room, went exploring around the lake and the woods near the hotel, and slept away the afternoon so I could stay up for my last night of aurora hunting!
The auroras were faint, but they were there. I had only three nights in Finland and was so so furtunate to be able to experience the lights each nights. I’m so glad I made the effort to make it to Finland. I fell in love with it more than I expected.
I left, and started my two day journey home.