SKI WEEK (MINUS THE SKIING)

In Finland there is a winter holiday called ‘Ski Week’ where all schools are closed and many flee to the slopes to spend the week enduring winter activities. Of course, skiing is not required during ski week. My boyfriend (Lewis) had booked to spend the week with me in Rovaniemi; my 23rd birthday also fell during this time so it was a great excuse to make the most of this time off from Uni.

As previously stated in my blog, Finland is not the cheapest place to live. I had warned Lewis at my lack of funds to take part in any Safartica trips (they offer over-priced activities such as husky rides and snowmobiling). He had already informed me that he was coming so he could see me, and didn’t mind about not having other plans, but I wanted to show him a glimpse of life in the arctic. Luckily, a guy who used to be an exchange student was running trips for Kuntotie residents during the holidays so I quickly snapped myself and Lewis a place on a snowshoeing trip that was only 50€ each - a good deal by Finland’s standards.

After Lewis’ 16 hours of travelling to Rovaniemi from the UK, we decided to have a relaxed first day; so I took him on a winter walk to Ounasvaara. I had visited Ounasvaara many times during my first months of living here; it was a great forest to explore that had fire pits and a watchtower. However, I hadn’t visited since the heavy snowfall, making it difficult to navigate the ‘snow path’ to the watchtower. It was very humorous trying to walk up a forest in 80cm deep snow without snowshoes, every so often we would fall hip-deep into snow – at least it was a true representation of Lapland life. When we finally reached the watchtower, Lewis was not disappointed with the view of Rovaniemi and the snowy forest.

The next day we were ready to leave Kuntotie at 9am for our snowshoeing trip! We travelled with Karol who was leading the trip and two other exchange students also joined us so it was a nice group to spend the day with. We drove for two hours to Pyhä-Luosto National Park and began our climb to the top of the fell in snowshoes. We were all so shocked out how difficult it was to climb in snowshoes! It takes a lot of strength and energy; we had to climb an almost-vertical hill. It took me around 30 minutes to get to the top, which I was very embarrassed about as Lewis and Karol were staring at me from the top after they climbed it in a swift few minutes. The view from the top was absolutely breathtaking. The trees were buried in snow and I felt like I was truly in the arctic. The climb down was as graceful as the climb up - meaning everyone was on their backs a lot of the time. When we got to the bottom we walked to a fire pit in the forest and grilled sausages and corn to regain strength for the short walk back to the car. It was an incredible and exhausting experience but I’m glad I had the opportunity, especially while Lewis was visiting.

The rest of the week I spent being a tour guide for Lewis, showing him Rovaniemi town and the infamous Santa Claus Village. The weekend was spent celebrating my birthday, I took him to a Finnish nightclub called Half Moon, there was a concert going on while we were there so he experienced true Finnish pop music (not my favorite, unfortunately). The week went by in a flash and before we had chance to catch our breath Lewis was already catching a taxi to the airport. It was great to be reunited for a week; it also marked the halfway point of my second semester, meaning I’d be home in 10 weeks!