Thursday, 27 March 2008

Finland Pt.3

In this third and final instalment (sniff), I set out on two last adventures before returning home from Finland.

Reindeer are commonplace in the arctic circle, both roaming free and in 'use', kind of like a combination of a cow and a horse... and no, not like a corse or a how :]

We visited a local reindeer farm, where they told us all about the lives of their reindeer and then you're told to go and fetch one out of the pen.

Did you know reindeer shed their antlers every year?

White reindeer are believed to be reincarnated people and are kind of sacred up here.

They had a new stag that was very lively and slightly demonic looking.

Next we had to climb inside a sleigh and they hooked up a reindeer to it, as you do - and guess which one we got??? Yes, the demonic competitive stag :[]

There was a group of five of us racing across a frozen lake and all the reindeer were jostling for pole position, but not of them could take our lead position :)

It got very hairy at times, in both senses of the word - with antlers and hooves akimbo, you really had to tuck in and keep out of the way.

Oddly enough, these reindeer just know were to go, taking us all the way round the lake and safely back again without guidance.
Clever stuff!

Our following.

After our triumphant victory, it was back for hot drinks and biscuits around a much welcome open fire.


Next up was a 90km (56mile) snowmobile trek to the snow village and Ice hotel!

660cc snowmobile *drool*
Not much finesse about these beasts, but raw power :)

Opening them up on the straights was seriously good fun.

Riding time split 50/50, as a pillion passenger it was very bumpy on the back, but I did notice this cool fisheye style reflection in Andy's skid-lid.

Brum, brum - so this is how it was for 007?

There are proper paths for snowmobiles stretching for miles and even proper road signs.

After an hour so, we eventually arrived at the Snowvillage

Inside was remarkably large.

There were 26 bedrooms, each one uniquely carved!

And yes, the beds are made of ice!!!

The mattresses are not ice, of course, and pretty comfy too :}

The whole place was filled with amazing ice sculptures, like this mammoth.

The restaurant with it solid ice tables!

The Finlandia vodka bar with its huge bottle sculpture.

Even the glasses are made of ice!!!
No need for... ice.

I spotted this on the way out!
Now that's health and safety going a little too far.


...and a post of this length just wouldn't be complete without something for fans of my bottom...

Easily ranking in the top 10 'coldest things I've ever done' - I took this shot of my bum and the aurora in sub -20c temperature! Cold, butt worth it :0)
(Ahh, see what I did there)

The last evening consisted of a plenty of beer and a Finnish karaoke bar - probably one of the most surreal evenings I've ever experienced!


Today, I'm Most Angry About: Learning my car has almost halved in value in the two years I've owned it! Bummer :'[
Grrr-O-Meter Rating: 6.3/10

Today's Top Tip: Feeling cold indoors this winter?
Simply pop outside for a few minutes without your clothes on.
When you come back inside you will really "feel the benefit".

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Finland Pt.2

A trip to Lapland just wouldn't be complete without visiting some huskies, so I partook in a 15km husky sledding excursion, across a vast frozen lake.

The husky farm was home to no fewer than 115 dogs of mixed breeds - As you can imagine, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven :]

The hounds are very lively and bark excitedly when they know they are about to go on a run.

A gorgeous Greenland dog.

An Alaskan husky with piercing blue eyes.

Our team of huskies.

And they're off...

A very civilised form of transport.

An out of breath Malamute came and rested its head in my lap!

The dogs get pretty hot and roll in the snow afterwards.

I crouched down by Luppo here and she walked over and placed her paw on me.

I wanted to take her with me :[

The farm had 3 new arrivals 6-weeks ago.

Blue eyed puppy.


Shnoz to shnoz.

A beautiful bi-eyed Siberian husky.

I got howled at...

Probably the most camp clapping I've ever seen too :]


On one of the evenings, we went on a Lappish night.
Having no idea what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised by the fun we all had!

A fantastic open fire in the middle of the hut.

Our entertaining host for the evening.

Drinking black wine... Bleh, eww, ugh :[]

Ah, I was (un)lucky enough to be picked out and had to play this drum for a whole song!
...and I genuinely fear being picked out of an audience, bah...

At the end of the night, we all had to kneel on the floor and receive a reindeer blessing.
Basically being made to make a noise like rutting reindeer while being drawn on with charcoal from the fire.

Looking goood!!!

When we all left the Lappish night, the northern lights had come out to play!

That's it for the penultimate episode of Finland folks.

Today, I'm Most Angry About: Still having a hangover two days after a night out :(
Grrr-O-Meter Rating: 3/10

Today's Top Tip: Dog owner / sci-fi fans: Four empty kitchen roll tubes covered in tin foil and then pushed over your dog's legs make for a futuristic 'space-dog'.
For a really space age look, slip a fifth tube onto your pet's tail!

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Finland Pt.1

Last week, a friend and I embarked upon some amazing adventures in a place called Levi in Lapland - North Finland in the Arctic Circle.

I was at the top of the 'F' of Finland.

Flew out on an Airbus A321.
35,000ft at 500mph!

Arriving at the hotel(li) is comforting in this very different land.

-21'c! (-6'F)
The temperature in Lapland rarely ever goes above freezing in the winter months... Brrr

The language barrier was a little problematic at times.
3 house-points to whoever can decipher this catchy little headline!

Levi town centre.

Time to hit the slopes and continue learning snowboarding.

Extra balance is provided from the ears... honestly :]

Me boardin' buddy Andy.
We talk the talk far better than we board... erm... the board?

Warning!!! Extreme crash footage follows.
NOT for the faint-hearted!

When I said "hit the slopes" I meant it!
Serves me right for such temerarious behaviour :)

A very frozen lamp-post up top.

A beautifully barren wasteland of ice, snow and trees.

The main north slopes back down into Levi town.

The temperature really plummets at sunset.

Reindeer roaming free on the fell.

There are many of these little huts called Kotas dotted around the hill.
Inside there's always a fire burning to warm up by.

This, believe it or not, is a bar!!!
Much to my surprise (and in a Tardis style) I opened the door to see a handful of people merrily drinking beer and even a waitress serving behind a little bar!

Extreme public toilets :0)

By the end of the week, I was riding with the aplomb of a pro boarder... Almost!


Probably one of the most breathtaking experiences of my life!
Witnessing the northern lights - The aurora borealis!


The aurora continually changes shape and size and silently dances around the whole sky

The aurora streaking across the top of the drag lifts

At the top

Against frozen trees

Looking North over Levi

Swirling over the peak

Dancing over the valley mist

Flowing out over the clouds


That's it for part 1 folks.
Don't miss part 2 next week!

Today, I'm Most Angry About: Getting caught blatantly staring at a woman's breasts in today's circuit training class! :[]
Grrr-O-Meter Rating: 1.1/10

Today's Top Tip: Air travellers: Spice up the mundane task of going through airport security by walking bandy-legged like you're concealing something up your bottom*.
[* Will not be held responsible for any 'probing' that may follow]