Lapland Adventure 2014 / Part 5 / Rovaniemi
April 11, 2014 § 2 Comments
Wilderness Husky Tour – Early in the morning, a friendly driver with an outstanding resemblance to actor Ian Mckellen, picked us up from Scandic Hotel. He drove through the outskirts of Rovaniemi until we reached the base of Bearhillhusky, a family company established in 2003 and run by Valentijn and her wife, Veronica. I like their philosophy of keeping the groups of guests small – so they can guarantee a personal service and a more satisfying wilderness experience -, that contrasts with other big companies in the area.
We were welcomed by Antti, our guide in the expedition, and an affable guy whose name I can´t recall now, pictured above with a group of loving dogs. First thing was a visit to the changing room, for those who needed some extra clothes. Once ready, we walked to a huge esplanade, where all the dogs were kept, each one with a small wooden hut to get refuge if needed.
For both Alicia and myself, dog lovers – we have four dogs, thee adopted, including our greyhound Gitano, who motivated my reportage Hounding Misery: The Misfortune of Being a Spanish Greyhound -, dealing with the dogs was a great time. Most of them were very friendly and willing to interact with human beings. Before starting the tour, Antti taught us a couple of basics about sledge control and how to dress the sled dogs with the corresponding harnesses.
Short after that lesson, with our canine friends prepared, we were ready to begin with the experience. As I had to take photos during the tour, we chose a double sledge, so we could switch places during the way and alternate the fun driving with the more relaxed passenger enjoyment. There are a couple of important things to keep in mind when mushing, such as the security distance with the sledge ahead and the importance of braking firmly, when necessary.
Using this transportation method for the first time was amusing and exciting, and traveling through the wilderness offered a richness of landscapes that made this a unique experience. After a good amount of kilometres, Antti announced a stop in the middle of the taiga forest, where we enjoyed a campfire lunch and a good conversation. If you have any doubt or question about Huskies and dog sledging, Antti is the person that will solve them for you.
As soon as we satisfied our hunger and curiosity, and the dogs got some rest, it was time to return to the headquarters, through a forest that was even more beautiful on our return, due to the presence of a golden sunset light. If you plan to visit Lapland and want a good introduction to dog sledding, remember to check Bearhillhusky for a personal and very interesting experience. They also offer overnight tours that I personally find fascinating and hope to experience sometime in the future.
Snowmobiles at Sunset – Without time to rest and recover from the lovely husky tour, we had to prepare for the next one. Short walking distance from Scandic Hotel, we found the office of Arctic Lifestyle, a service company specialised in private groups and personal attention. Jänkälä Jare, our big and congenial guide, gave us a helmet and gloves and walked with us to the nearby Kemijoki river, where the motorised adventure began.
In spite of their harmless appearance, snowmobiles can be really powerful machines and, therefore, require caution and reasonable driving. According to Wikipedia, snowmobiles were originally intended as a winter utility vehicle that could be used where motor vehicles could not go. Since the latter part of the 20th century, they have been put to use for recreational purposes as well.
It was really enjoyable to ride the snowmobile on the frozen waters of the river, while the sunset was ending it´s job and painting the horizon with outstanding colours. As it is common in most activities that can be done in Lapland, which is something I liked very much, we stopped for creating a fire and eat something, to the sound of a good conversation.
Lappish food at Nili – We asked several times for the best place to eat Lappish food, and most of the people recommended Nili. Although a bit expensive, as it usually happens with quality, the restaurant had a warm atmosphere and was decorated with local handcrafts and materials. The service was very kind and the food, by chef Timo Kyllönen, really good.
Winter Swimming World Championships – Casually, the last days of my Lapland Adventure matched with the beginning of the World Championships of a curious and meritorious sport discipline, based on the swimming of a gelid pool made in the frozen river. Therefore, I had the opportunity to witness and photograph a peculiar event that demonstrates, once again, that human body knows no limits.
Around 1244 swimmers, from 34 countries. gathered in Rovaniemi for this competition. The most severe competition of Winter Swimming World Championships 2014 was the 450 m endurance swim. a challenge that allures the toughest swimmers to combat for the World Championship gold medal. It was very interesting to have the chance to watch it and spend more time with Salla, who finally acceded to be photographed, as shown below. Once finished, I went back to the hotel and ate a couple of great homemade pizzas, from the nearby Koti Pizza.
Santa Claus – Of course, you can´t leave Rovaniemi, know as The Official Hometown of Santa Claus, without visiting this charming character, especially loved and cherished by children of all nationalities. And so we did, here, before heading back to Madrid and ending this Lapland Adventure 2014, one of my best travel experiences so far.
Thanks and gratitude – After some great experiences in Inari (Sámi Culture, Aurora Borealis) Kakslauttanen (Glass Igloo) Pyhä (Ice Climbing and Altai Skiing) and Kemi (Sampo Icebreaker), narrated in the previous chapters, my Lapland Adventure 2014 comes to an end. A wonderful adventure that offered me the chance to meet great persons in each location and experience some unforgettable activities. Special mention in this chapter to Salla Tauriainen, for her great help and disposition, and Juha, who taught me a couple of things with this education and professionalism. Thanks to Valentijn, Veronica and Antti, from Bearhillhusky, Jänkälä Jare and Arctic Lifestyle and all the people who helped me make this project a reality. Also to those few who decided to complicate my steps, without any kind of success. They all know who they are.
Lapland Adventure 2014 / Part 5 / Rovaniemi
Part 1 / Inari
Part 2 / Kakslauttanen
Part 3 / Pyhä
Part 4 / Kemi
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