Here's hoping for (at least) one clear night and plenty of solar flares

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December 10th 2013
Published: December 10th 2013
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Brrr, minus eight degrees at Helsinki Airport this morning ... and minus 16 degrees in Ivalo which is where we will be heading later today. Well, actually, Ivalo is just the airport that we fly into. Ultimately we are bound for the Hotel Korpikatano in a remote place called Menesjarvi. There we will spend the next seven nights watching for the Aurora Borealis and our days dog sledding, snowmobiling, ice fishing and going on a reindeer sleigh-ride (when will we sleep?). I use the term 'day' very loosely here because the sun will not show itself above the horizon while we are inside the Arctic Circle!! So it will be either twilight or dark for the next week. A new experience for us; we have been in Alaska in July and seen the midnight sun - this will be other extreme.

After a sleep in and a late breakfast, we have spent the morning in our room getting the travel blog up-to-date because we are not sure what internet access will be like up in Lapland so this might be our last post for a while ... We return to Helsinki late on the 17th of December.

We look forward to the comments being posted on and messages via email. It's good to know that people find our blog interesting and sometimes entertaining. Especially, apparently, the parts where things don't go quite according to plan! Remember, if it's too much information, you don't have to read it all - just look at the pictures. We may not have replied individually to everyone, but we are enjoying messages from home.

To be continued ...

Yay, we have internet access AND mobile phone coverage AND television inside the Arctic Circle. Which just goes to show that it is harder and harder to truly get away from it all in today's technological age!

About 2.00pm we re-traced our steps to the airport. It's not very far from the Hilton Hotel, but it is a chilly walk in a covered, but not entirely enclosed, walkway. We arrived into Terminal 1 yesterday, but departed from Terminal 2 today so we had to take the escalator to the upper level. Bernie caused trouble at security screening again today! He had to unpack his camera bag and had his small tin of eclipse mints removed while his bag went back through the X-ray machine. Nope, that's not the problem. Mind you I had already cleared security with an identical tin of mints in by carry-on bag??! Back into the camera bag to try to isolate the offending item. The bag went through again, this time with Bernie's small torch withheld. OK, all clear. Bernie's mints and torch were returned to him and we proceeded towards the departure gates.

We had more airport food for lunch before heading to Gate 30. Our plane was already at the air-bridge so Bernie took the obligatory aeroplane at the air-bridge photograph! We pulled away from the air-bridge about eight minutes after our scheduled departure time so Finnair is rating better than SAS for punctuality! While we were waiting for the last passengers to board I was sitting looking at the wing with snow sitting on it and wondering how that would affect the aerodynamics for take-off. Should they be de-icing the wings? We taxied out onto the tarmac and pulled up beside a vehicle that turned out to be the de-icer. This funny little vehicle, basically a driver's cab on a telescopic arm with a hose, proceeded to spray de-icing liquid all over the wing (I assume there was an identical vehicle on the other side of the plane) before manoeuvring itself to the back of the plane and repeating the process on the tail-fin. OK, now we were all set for take-off!!

After an hour and a half in the air, we smacked onto the runway at Ivalo - certainly the hardest landing we have had on this trip! There are no sky-bridges at Ivalo Airport; we had to disembark via the stairs and walk across the tarmac. All the other tourists were busily taking photos of their arrival in Lapland so we snapped off a couple of daggy tourist shots too. We had to give the camera bit of a run today otherwise there would be no pictures for the blog!! Toni, one of the guides from Hotel Korpikatano, met us in the arrivals hall. We waited and waited and waited for our luggage to come off the plane. Just when we were starting to worry that it might still be in Helsinki it popped out onto the baggage carousel.

We dragged our bags out to the hotel's Ford Transit and Toni drove us up to Menesjarvi. We were driving into snow all the way so no Aurora sightings tonight! On the plus side the temperature is quite mild (relatively speaking) at only minus eight degrees!! Apparently it got to minus 30 degrees a couple of nights ago.

Dinner was ready for us on our arrival so it was straight downstairs for our evening meal. After dinner Toni fitted us out with our snow suits, socks, boots, mittens and balaclavas. There were four other people who checked in with us - all from the UK. Matt and Sophia from Poole/Bournemouth, but currently residing in Nottingham and Londoners Colin and his cousin, Trudy. What a sight we all looked in our onesies and oversized boots!! Hardly fashionable attire, but well-suited to the conditions. So, we are all set for tomorrow's activities - snowmobiling and ice-fishing.

6,159 steps / 4.19 km


10th December 2013

Really enjoying your blog Tracey but am not able to enjoy all your photos as some will not open! All I can do is imagine what they must be like and hope I can see more after you both get back. Hope you get to see the Aurora Borealis in all its glory and your photos do it justice. Cheers
12th December 2013

Feeling for you
Hi Tracey and Bernie, we can't wait until your next episode, it seems like we feel for you when things don't go as planned..maybe we have been there as well. It's just your quest for the Aurora is killing us, we feel exhausted for you. You better get this under wrap or we will feel cheated. Good luck guys. Valerie and Wade.
14th December 2013

seriously freezing
It is easy to imagine how freezing it is over there when checking out the photos, though I probably haven't ever experienced such conditions in my lifetime! Not very appealing. So I really hope your quest goes well! love Janet

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