Headed to the Land of the Midnight Sun. Sorta. 11

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I’m going in the winter. So instead of the Land of the Midnight Sun, I think I’ve signed up for the Land of the Midnight Dark-as-it-should-be.

Not much Sun. A lot of snow and cold. And somehow I am still really damn excited about the whole thing.

I’m going to Finland next month!

from Visit Finland

Finland during the winter would not have made my list of things to do until I started examining the options available in the last few weeks and gotten more and more enthralled with each article I’ve read and photograph I’ve seen.

I have realized I just needed to man-up, buy some warm clothing, and deal with my trepidation of the cold, because there are a variety of options available only during the winter months that rock.

So here are some of the things they have planned for me:

I’m headed to the far north and the village of Luosto to stay in a log cabin. While I’m there, I will take my first-ever tour of a mine, in this case an amethyst mine. Oddly, I think that is my birth stone.

Then I will engage in the most Finnish of Finland traditions…

The Finnish Sauna

Let me quote from the materials the Finland Tourism Board sent me:

Sauna is for every occasion in Finland, for business as much as for leisure. The Finns believe that due to its social nature and relaxing effect, the sauna is an excellent place for negotiations, and exchange of ideas and opinions. In ancient times, the sauna in Finland was linked to spiritual and religious ceremonies and healing. The sauna meant a quiet, peaceful place and a clean and warm haven. Saunas have always had a very strong significance and social importance.

from Visit Finland

The health benefits of ice swimming have been thoroughly researched. Due to the drastic changes in temperature the discharge of stress hormones is increased and both blood circulation and metabolism are improved. Studies have shown that people who swim regularly have significantly lower blood pressure and a better tolerance of the cold. Many swimmers say that all aches and pains disappear in the water.You can feel the effects of ice swimming even after the very first dip in the icy water. Blood rushes through your veins, your body is pumped with adrenaline and the feeling of achievement brings a smile to your face: “I did it!”

A couple things to note about the sauna experience. First, they are apparently serious about me jumping into some ice lake. Sauna. Ice lake. Sauna. Ice Lake. Hmmmmm….

“Stress hormones?” That can’t be good, right? Under the logic that the discharge of stress hormones will help me, should I let wild animals chase me next time I’m down in Namibia? Or try strolling blindfolded across the streets of Cairo?

Color me a skeptic, but in the name of research, I just might… might make the plunge.

Second, unlike the photo, apparently this whole sauna experience is nude. And co-ed. Suffice it to say that I am not going to be posting any photos or video.

It’s Not All Naked Fun

From there, my Finnish adventure takes off for more adrenaline pumping activities. They have set me up to do some ice climbing. Yep. Ice climbing.

Let’s hope that doesn’t translate to ice-falling-and-going-to-the-hospital.

Then an activity that I feel I will be able to successfully conquer — a husky dog safari through the snowy forest. I not only am a huge dog lover (and quite miss my black lab, Satchel, who was a constant companion of mine for 14+ years), but I think I will also be able to take some really fun video on my first dog sled ride.

And I am hoping to get lucky and for the first time in my life and…

See the Northern Lights

I have been browsing through dozens upon dozens of photographs of the Northern Lights in recent months and become completely enchanted. Just seeing the lights for the first time would be an experience of a lifetime. I am crossing my fingers right now, which does make typing this more difficult than usual.

from Visit Finland

On this trip, I am going to also be trying some new things to keep you updated, such as daily postings on my Facebook Page. So, if you aren’t already following me over there, you might want to click through and like that page to keep up with everything.

One of the things I started doing since I got my Galaxy SIII is being more active on Instagram and you can rest assured that I will be posting up dozens of photos over there of this trip.

If you have been to Finland I’d love your advice. If there’s anything you want to see me do, let me know as I’m still planning!

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About Michael Hodson

I’m an attorney that took off on my birthday in December of 2008 to circumnavigate the globe without ever getting on an airplane. After 16 months, 6 continents and 44 countries, I made it all the way back home. Right now, I am back on the road writing about it all.

11 thoughts on “Headed to the Land of the Midnight Sun. Sorta.

  • Gaelyn

    Not sure my body could handle this cold, especially the plunge, so am glad you’ll be posting regularly while I’m enjoying sunny South Africa.

  • Dyanne@TravelnLass

    “Many swimmers say that all aches and pains disappear in the water.”

    Right. That’s because YOU.CAN’T.FEEL.YOUR.LIMBS.

    In short, good luck with that Michael. 😉

    The dog-sledding sounds divine, and the northern lights? Yup, definitely likewise been at the top of my lifetime bucket list. The good news is that from what I can glean from the science news front – the AB’s will begin to get more frequent in 2013, so I’m crossing fingers for you!

    Me? I’m hoping to see them in Japan next February, when I go to see those incredible “Snow Monkeys” and the Sapporo Snow Festival.

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      Hoping for good weather for the possible Northern Lights show… and maybe some unseasonably warm weather to boot.

  • Jennifer

    Since you are staying in a cabin, you won’t have any light pollution. Check out the post I recently wrote on 5 things no one ever tells you about the Northern Lights for some tips on Aurora hunting.

      • Peter Culley

        I am a Brit living in Lapland. Since we are at the top of the Sun’s solar activity cycle this year (11-year cycle), you will have to be very unlucky not to spot them flaming across the entire sky.

        By the way, you don’t need many tips for hunting them, we have website that tells you when and where they are: https://www.ursa.fi/ursa/jaostot/revontulet/english.html

        I’ll try and make it to the training session on Valentine’s Day. Look forward to meeting you!

  • Sunee

    We’ve recently returned from Yllas up high in the Arctic Circle in Finland and I will be blogging about that absolutely fantastic experience in the next few weeks.

    Some advice: The first thing we bought after walking around in the -35C temperatures for 30 mins was a balaklava. Seriously, get one, otherwise your face freezes off 🙂 Also, battery life is next to non-existent, so keep you electronics next to your body for the heat and take lots of backup batteries. And layer, layer, layer your clothes. Nothing tight, apparently you need a bit of air between layers to trap the heat that keeps your extremities from falling off 🙂

    We didn’t get to see the Northern Lights because it was snowing and too much cloud cover, so I’m really keeping my fingers crossed for you and hope I get to see them through you! Enjoy!

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      I’ve heard about the battery issue. Need to be very mindful of that for sure.

      And just root for good, clear weather.

  • Katja Jama

    I’m a finn, originally from Lapland but now living in southern Finland, in Tampere. Layers and layers really is the best tip for clothing, and the top layer should preferrably be at least wind-proof, if not also water-proof. Don’t forget to wear a hat, because most of the heat from your body disappears through the head.

    Sauna and ice swimming is truly amazing. You should definitely not miss it, if you have the opportunity. Yes, the water is freezing, but as a first-timer you won’t be able and shouldn’t stay in the water for more than a few seconds. I can promise you, that you’ll feel AMAZING afterwards though. And going into the hot sauna after swimming is divine! About the nudity. Well, usually sauna and swimming is surely done in the nude. EXEPT if it’s a public sauna, then people are usualyl wearing trunks or a swimming suit. It varies, but if it is a public and mixed sauna, it probably won’t be a nude sauna. However if it’s a private one, say you visit a finnish family, then is is done in the nude. Definately.

    This year is foretold to be a very active year when it comes to northern lights, just like Peter said, so you should be able to count on seeing some.

    All the best and have a fantastic trip. You will surely enjoy it!

  • Birgitta Hantula

    If you don’t feel like taking the plunge to the ice water from sauna, try rolling in the snow instead. Not exactly the same, but very refreshing and also a popular custom in Finland, Especially if your sauna is not near a lake. (I’ve done it in the front yard of my parents house more than once…)

    Also, since you say you are a dog lover, make sure you get to meet the Finnish national dog, Suomen pystykorva (Finnish Spitz). They are a special breed, and there are people who are campaigning to make Finnish Spitz a UNESCO World Heritage “Site”…

    Good luck.

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