We’ve got on well with the people in the Hotel Laanihovi and they gave us a special treat for dinner last night. The treat was a starter of reindeer tongues – a meal which put the family on a spectrum: Jennifer liked them a lot; Declan didn’t mind them (‘they’re like the fatty bit of a chicken’); Callum tried them and decided they were ‘OK I suppose’; and I actively disliked them. Second course was… more reindeer, this was like pulled reindeer on mashed potato. We’ve eaten a lot of reindeer over the last week and generally it’s a lot more like kangaroo than chicken, very lean and a bit gamey, and we’ve all liked it most of the time.
After dinner we went out in a van to hunt the Aurora. The temperature dropped like a stone and freezing fog set in, so in spite of driving around for hours we saw only the faintest signs of the Northern Lights. So after a full week of criss-crossing the countryside in cars, on snowshoes, on sleighs and on snowmobiles; after staying up until the wee hours; after freezing our appendages; our sole sighting was on the last day, at 5pm, at the hotel. Irony. Luckily even the locals agree that we got lucky and had one of the best Aurora displays that they’ve seen for a while.
This morning we said goodbye to Lapland and set off for Helsinki. The day dawned completely clear so we had a different view for our drive back to the airport in Ivalo. The clarity also meant that it turned seriously cold and so our last morning was almost at minus 30. That’s cold enough that you can feel the inside of your nose icing up as you breath.
Arriving in Helsinki the temperature is only minus 7. The strange thing is that that’s 20 degrees warmer than it was this morning. It doesn’t feel like a 20 degree difference and certainly nothing like the difference between zero and 20 degrees feels. But the insides of our noses remain ice-free.
In further contrast with Laanhovi we’re staying in a modern apartment all styled Finnish chic. We decided to eat-in tonight and so have been supermarket shopping and are having pasta for dinner. Beef pasta, the reindeer will remain part of our Lapland experience.