On Wednesday we decided to rent a car to look further afield. For only 80 euro for the day it was well worth it to have a look throughout the local area. Steve did a great job of driving while M provided snow driving advice.
Winter tyres are studded and the roads are well looked after. Although still covered in snow they have been groomed. They don’t appear to use salt or grit as I believe these don’t work once under a certain temperature anyway.
Steve invited the guy who dropped off the car to stay for a coffee and we all had a good yarn. He was able to provide us with some tips on places to go. So our first stop was the Snow Village.
The only thing about driving in Finland is that if you go past your turn off you have a drive a fairly long way to turn around. You can’t just chuck a u-turn in the middle of the road due to the snow banks. So after travelling quite a bit further past our turning we eventually managed to find a spot to spin around and make our way back to the Snow Village.
The Snow Village gets built every year when they take water from a local river to use for the ice and hire artisans to sculpt the blocks. It is basically two tunnels that run around in a circle. Off the tunnels are individual pods that are the hotel rooms. The tunnels are lit with coloured lights and each hotel room is uniquely themed. For example one had ice carved armchairs in front of an ice carved fireplace complete with dangling chandelier. The ice bar was pretty cool as was a complete ice chapel room. Note to self – wet reindeer skin smells like wet dog!
Next stop was the Husky dog farm (if only we could find it). After parking the car deep in a snow pile we hiked it down a road for about a kilometre before we figured that we were either lost or it was miles away. So we hoofed it back to the car. I think Steve thoroughly enjoyed getting the car out of the snow drift! About 4 kilometres down the road we came across the husky farm. We knew we had hit the right place when a tour bus was seen in the car park. You could hear the dogs barking from the road so we all eagerly walked towards the noise. Man, huskies are so beautiful but again, wet dog is a smell I am not too fond of. A number of tourists were already milling around and another bunch had left for their dog sled rides. We had a pat of the dogs and then the sleds started to return. The barking was incredible. The other dogs not involved in pulling the sleds were going nuts as they could hear the sleds coming well before we did and you could tell they just wanted to get out there and run!
By the time we left the husky farm it was dark so we were furiously looking for any sign of the Northern Lights. Later that night we picked a road that led into the national park where we knew it would be far darker. Steve noticed a hut just off the main road so we stopped to have a look. It turned out to be a walkers hut complete with fireplace and a shed load of wood, matches etc so we decided to camp out there for the night (or as long as possible as not everyone was too keen on staying all night). With a roaring fire, plenty of hot chocolate, snow for melting, chocolate for munching on and good company we holed up there until about 2.30am. The stars were spectacular but not a hint of the Aurora Borealis at all. During all the time there, not one car went past our little hideaway. What a magic night.