Spotting the Northern Lights and sledding with huskies are high on many bucket lists. Also on ours. We went to Finnish Lapland to tick off at least one. “Would you like some reindeer horn in your coffee?” Text: Bart-Jan Brouwer
Image: John van Helvert
With thanks to: Askja Reizen & FinnairAlmost everything in Rovaniemi is linked to Santa Claus. This is already apparent when you arrive at the airport: a sleigh with reindeer floats above the baggage claim; among the spinning suitcases, trollish Santa Clauses stand surrounded by presents at their feet; Winged sayings of Santa Claus hang on the walls 'Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, Rudolf'; and at the exit there is a driver with a 'Santa Claus Holiday Village' sign in his hands. Even one of the local football clubs is named after Santa Claus: FC Santa Claus.

Bony Finn

A visit to Santa Claus is not on our bucket list. Sledding with huskies and spotting the Northern Lights. Our driver Lennart immediately quashes our optimism: “I haven't seen the Northern Lights very often this year.” To have a chance of seeing the Northern Lights, the so-called Kp index, the degree of solar activity, must be high enough and it must not be too cloudy. The latter already goes wrong on our day of arrival: it snows continuously. We stay in Pello where we will sleep in Valkea Arctic Lodge for the next few nights. We are welcomed by the owner, Antti-Pekka Palokangas, a chunky Finn who looks like his name sounds. He immediately accompanies us, hungry travelers, to the dining table and provides us with a mug of beet soup followed by a stew with reindeer meat and goes over the plans for the next day: a dog sled trek through the bush. I enter the next day with five layers of clothing. the cracking cold outside light. While the sleds are being prepared, there is a barking and whining of I have you there. The beautiful huskies only want one thing: to run! My sled has a power of 5 hp (husky power). The moment I take my foot off the brake, I really shoot forward – I almost fall off the sled. The dogs let me out... Breathlessly I glide through this nature scene, painted lavishly white. What a beauty! I want to store this picture on my internal hard drive forever.