So far this has been less a holiday of scungy student living, and more your spoilt brat living the high life holiday.
We caught a taxi through the streets of Stockholm at 6.15 in the morning – pretty, pitch black, ridiculous cyclists riding in the snow.
we caught the ferry to turku. ‘Ferry’ perhaps gives the wrong impression – this was a 12 deck cruise ship, with buses inside. (Seriously, i saw greyhound-type buses coming out of it’s belly.)
The first half of the ferry-ride was fun, watching it travel through the ice. It’s very entertaining to watch a big ship travel through ice. We even went outside, to see how cold it was (cold) and take some photos. (We could only stay outside for about five minutes, max. Kept having to swap photo-taking, so the other person could put gloves back on.) After about five hours the novelty began to wear off. The ferry itself is pretty trashy. Our cabin was below sea level – below the cars even, and the whole deck smelled of alcohol and cigarettes. You can smoke inside on the ferry, which makes sense I guess, cos it’s pretty cold out, but I found it unpleasant. We spent most of our time on the top deck where there was a little bit where you could sit and chill. It sold ice creams.
there are villages right on the ice. I wonder how active they are now as opposed to summer.
From Turku we caught a train to Rovaineimi (pretty much on the Arctic circle) and then a bus to Saariselka (250 kms north). All this was about 36 hours of traveling (ferry, train, bus) and by the end of it we were pretty tired and grouchy. But we’d be with husky dogs in the morning. Didn’t do much in S, except to spend lots and lots of money on warm things. So worth it.
and then huskies!
We went on a 3-day ‘husky safari’, where we travelled about 80kms around (and on!) lakes and forest between Saariselka and Ivalo (further north).
We went with four others – two from Holland and two from Switzerland, and our guide who was wonderfully taciturn, and so deadpan that we didn’t realise he was actually hilarious until we’d well and truly finished the tour.
On a husky safari you drive a team of huskies, standing on a sleigh. The huskies pull you along, at about 8 kms an hour. Downhill and around corners you have to brake, to stop the sleigh running into the dogs, and keep it on the track. Up steep hills you have to run behind the sleigh, otherwise the dogs give you this look of “well, are you going to help or not?”. On the flat and on lakes, you can just stand up and drink the scenery in. The scenery is all snow and trees and silence.
I had a team of five dogs. Ymaa and Tielku led, Fart was in the middle, and Jiri and Bea brought up the rear. (not sure about my spelling there.)
Bea was in heat and didn’t seem to be enjoying herself much. She was smaller than the other dogs, and tended not to eat her food unless it was tipped out of the bowl for her. She liked to climb into your lap for cuddles.
Jiri was a good dog, who just liked to hang around with Bea. Sometimes a little too much, and then Bea would jump up and put one paw in the back of his head and bark loudly right into his ear until she thought he’d understood her point. He would just stand there looking sheepish and then shake himself off and go and sit quietly elsewhere.
At least one of my dogs was stinky, and it may or may not have been Fart, but he was definitely the best runner, and the most keen. (‘Fart’ is apparently Swedish for ‘speed’.) In the morning he would whine and pace and bark until I harnessed him up to the sleigh, and then he would howl and bark and pull until we took off (‘took off’ being the correct phrase). He would only pause in these to jump on Ymaa and pin him when Ymaa was being too annoying.
Tielku was excellent. Good tracker and a good runner. She would sit patiently and wait while you put her harness on or got her dinner ready. She was also into the pats. When I first met her she had her head pressed right up against one of the handlers, receiving lots of cuddles. Whenever i had finished patting her, she would put her head against me, requesting more.
Ymaa was a boofhead. The biggest of my team, he was capable of running and tracking but was more interested in the girl dogs, peeing on trees as we went, and fighting with Jiri. He eventually had to be swapped out of my team and into Q’s, where the biggest dog of the farm seemed to keep him in line. Ymaa was also very strong – there was a marked decrease in speed when the dogs were swapped.
Ymaa was swapped for Helmi, the littlest and easily most pathetic on the safari. She was pretty young and it may have been her first overnight tour, because she seemed to think there’d been some mistake, she was actually a dog designed for cuddling inside. She was alright once she’d had lots and lots of pats and the other dogs weren’t allowed to pick on her, and she was fine running.
We stayed in cabins and had breakfast, lunch and dinner prepared for us – always a hot meal, and generally at least two courses. There was a dry sauna by each cabin, where it is customary to sit and get all hot and sweaty and then to go and roll naked in the snow. (No, there are no photos.)
No northern lights as while we were there it was cloudy the whole time. It was actually quite warm, about -20 to -5. This was too hot for the dogs, who prefer -25 while running. They would roll in the snow at all available opportunities. They have very thick and tough fur, and their hair is hollow, to aid in insulation.
~ precis of