This article was originally published (in print) in both the Emersons Green Voice (Issue 15, December 2017) and Downend Voice (Issue 58, December 2017).
This time of year always has me dreaming of snowy landscapes and perfect winter escapes. So it seems only too fitting to tell you about our trip to a Northern Finland town called Ruka, some 175 miles South of famous Lapland, where evergreen fir trees tower over the landscape, lakes freeze solid in -20ºC temperatures and husky sledding is a favourite pastime of locals and tourists alike.
This Finland trip came about because we’d booked a simple, yet exciting ski package holiday – my first ski adventure in fact! Ruka is less busy than the equivalent resorts in Central Europe, which makes it popular with intermediate and advanced skiers who prefer quieter slopes and shorter ski lift queues. Although I’m not convinced I found my own ski legs during that trip, I did find unique experiences and adventures that I’ll never forget.
We embarked on tours to take us out into the depths of the Finnish countryside, where we found ourselves snowmobiling our way across frozen lakes with the ice-cold air whipping at our faces and hands. If you’ve not yet had the chance to snowmobile, then I must tell you that it’s much harder than it looks. The slippery ice beneath you and the fast speeds make it difficult to steer, yet the exhilaration causes masses of adrenaline to pump through your body. It’s an amazing experience and one I would definitely recommend to all adventure-lovers out there!
During this trip, we could also be found riding reindeer sleighs and driving husky sleds across the snow and ice. I appreciate it can sometimes be a worry to other animal lovers out there whether we should be doing these kinds of things when travelling. Although some companies are not reputable when it comes to animal welfare, I can certainly recommend Erä-Susi Huskies. We saw they really did love the animals and we saw dogs that were absolutely raring to go! When driving a husky sled, you have to keep your feet on the brakes every time you slow to a halt, otherwise the dogs jet off like cannons being fired from warships. Like I said, they’re raring to go!
In amongst these incredible new experiences, we sled down snowy hills like children and walked for miles and miles around the icy lakes (careful not to venture too far away from the waymarked trails).
And when our legs grew weary from walking, skiing, snowmobiling and sledding, we cosied up in our wooden cabin tucked away in the countryside. We lit our own log fires, tiptoed across the underfloor heating, hung out in our private sauna, sipped on delicious Glögi (a type of Finnish mulled wine) and ate Piparkakut (traditional Finnish gingerbread biscuits).
Whenever I think back to this incredible winter escape, I feel the Christmas spirit come to life within me. And I hope beyond hope that I’ll be able to jet off in search of another winter wonderland someday soon… maybe Canada or Japan next time. Who’s with me?
Did you like this? Don’t forget to share it around!