“Ovatko pohjoiset valot näkyvissä tänään?” – What ??
That was our first thought when we arrived in Finland and we came in contact with the language. As we left the plane in Kittila, we entered a winter landscape that we only knew from TV. If you can already rent snowmobiles at the “airport” you know there is still a real winter here.
After only a few minutes bus ride through a unique landscape of snow you will come to the winter sports center “Levi”. The “Hulu Poro”, crazy reindeer, was our hotel for the next seven nights. The place Levi was designed for winter tourism as most buildings and facilities . According to one of the few inhabitants, 1,000 locals have up to 3,000 tourists per week. With a capacity of 30,000 beds you get an idea of the winter circus in Finland.
1000 pinpricks on the skin
Already in advance of our trip we organized activities around Levi. For the first few days we rented skis and enjoyed the perfect weather on the slopes. The ski season starts in Levi in October and continues until May. Anyone who thinks they can find a ski resort in the Alps is mistaken. With a height of 531 meters, however, the mountain offers everything that makes the winter sports heart beat faster. Especially the empty and perfectly groomed slopes are unique. As it only gets light at ten o’clock and gets dark again at 3 o’clock, almost all slopes are equipped with floodlighting. You also have to get used to the temperature. At an outside temperature of minus 15-20 degrees Celsius, the wind feels like 1000 small pinpricks on the skin.
Due to its proximity to the Arctic Circle, on clear nights you have the chance to admire the northern lights in the sky. Equipped with a tripod and SLR camera, we set off for a vantage point at midnight. However, we were quickly disappointed as the whole place lay in the fog. This was repeated over the next few days. On the penultimate day we tried again and we were rewarded for the icy wait. One eye on the camera screen, the other in the sky, we enjoyed the short but intense spectacle in the Finnish night sky.
An absolute must is a visit to a Finnish sauna. After a hard day in icy temperatures you can really relax here. At least that’s the idea. Martin had a very different experience. In the beginning it was still very pleasant to a Finn took over the „Aufguss“. We had already learned in advance that the Finns sauna would be extreme and this has been confirmed here. At a temperature above 100 ° C it was also a new experience for us.
“Dont eat yellow snow!”
We were looking forward to the ride with the sled dogs. A bus took us to a farm outside of Levi, where we already heard the loud barking of the dogs. It seemed very chaotic for us, everywhere dogs, noise and yellow snow. When we got to know the owners it was clear that everything was in its place and they told us that the dogs can not wait to get started. When we looked at the dogs we were surprised. We thought with sled dogs of the proud and powerful huskies. However, other dogs are used as sled dogs. As “Husky” all sled dogs are called.
The six dogs pulled us through snow-covered forest trails and winter landscapes like a movie. After 15 kilometers we came back to the farm. The dogs, however, were not a bit exhausted and would run according to the owner until they drop dead. At reindeer sausage and berry tea there was time in a log cabin to warm the toes and fingers again before going back to the hotel.
Another highlight of our trip was the visit to the GoKart Center. It is not an ordinary kart track because it takes place on a frozen lake. The ten horsepower karts made quite a noise as we watched a group of tourists in front of us. Dressed in a special suit, helmet and gloves, we made our way to our warm-up lap. It was clear that this was a fun experience. Due to the slippery surface and the strong horsepowerd karts you have to be very careful when you open the throttle, otherwise the tires spin. In the race itself, it was very difficult to get an overview of who was in the lead as everyone turned in and needed help from the marshals. After 15 minutes there was a short break before it went on. When the race was over, we enjoyed another cup of berry tea at a campfire before heading back to the hotel.