If there’s ever a place to get away, it’s in a small town in Finland, just along the Arctic Circle.
Away from the turmoil, the negativity, the sadness, the chaos, the confusion, the attacks, the heartbreak, the madness, the noise.
In March of this year, I took a trip to Finland with my globetrotting boyfriend by my side. We arrived in Helsinki and spent two magical days exploring all that the city had to offer – crisp temperatures, a charming SkyWheel, strong coffee, a frozen harbor, Russian architecture, coffee cups carved from birch trees and prickly reindeer furs. And cloudberry jam – so much cloudberry jam.
Two days into the trip, we took a small plane to the northern region of Lapland, where we spent two perfect nights in a glass igloo under the stars. Yes, an igloo. You know, like the ones you’ve seen advertised at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort. But thanks to a blogger I found a few months prior to the trip, they were even better (here’s why – thanks Journey Wonders!).
I don’t know why I’m even bothering to write a section about this very specific corner of the world, because words, like photographs, could never do it justice.
We had arrived with one goal: to see the Northern Lights. Oh, did we see them. The first night, we eagerly smacked our credit card down on the dinner table at our resort and darted outside to catch them. Impressive, yet they only lasted about ten minutes. Later, we asked the hotel attendant when they’d show up the next night, and for how long. She laughed at our naiveté.
“Nobody knows when they’ll come or go. It’s always different. You just have to wait.”
And so we waited. After an afternoon of dogsledding in Sirkka and post-session dog cuddling (obviously), we returned to our warm, spherical abode. We waited for the next set of lights, lying flat on the bed, gazing upward. Trying not to even blink, or breathe, or make any sudden movements as if our actions directly affected the impending show.
There they were, even brighter this time. Shades of green filled the night sky and we gawked. They danced around us teasingly, disappearing and reappearing. But to my surprise, they were there when I closed my eyes to rest, and they were there when I woke an hour later. At peak brightness, we shoved our feet into our snow boots and wrapped ourselves with our robes and winter coats. We grabbed our iPhones to take mediocre photos of the phenomena before us. We suited up three times or so, and each time we laughed as the lights dimmed as soon as we stepped outside; Mother Nature laughed at the time we took to prepare for sub-zero temperatures. We opted to stay in.
It was peak season for the Aurora and we had expected to see them, but never did we expect to feel that feeling. Our out-of-body and out-of-mind experiences in those two nights jolted us awake, if only temporarily, to the true miracle of nature.
All the dogsledding and bittersweet cloudberry jam and reindeer babies and flavorful cuisine and hygge (Danish, not Finnish, indirectly translating to “coziness”) could not compare to the emerald skies that frosted over the stars outside our igloo.
We were universes away from every other human on earth, and we were free.