Posts Tagged With: Northern Lights

Lapland, Part 3 (of 3)

On our last night in Lapland, we splurged and stayed in one of the glass igloos at the Arctic Snow Hotel. You can spend the night in the snow hotel itself, which stays at a constant temperature of about 30°F.  The glass igloo, on the other hand, was nice and warm, especially during the day when the sun turned it into a greenhouse! Beware, though:  the bathrooms are freezing at night! Even so, the igloos were absolutely lovely.

Interior, glass igloo, Arctic Snow Hotel

They are fairly new, built last fall and opened to guests in December. The showers are amazing, with fabulous water pressure and optional rainfall shower head. The igloos are equipped with an aurora alarm that buzzes when the northern lights make an appearance, so you can fall asleep and not have to worry about missing them. And since the igloos have adjustable beds, there’s no need to put your coat and boots on if you don’t want to, just crank the bed up and enjoy the show!

Northern Lights, seen from glass igloo

I do have one complaint, and you might be able to tell what it may be in the photo above. It seems the people staying in the other igloos didn’t know that in order to see the stars and the northern lights better, it’s best to minimize your own light pollution. In other words, turn your flipping lights off, dumbasses! I left a comment card with the hotel saying they should “suggest guests turn lights off after 10pm unless absolutely necessary.”

Glass igloos, lights ablaze

Another very minor thing I found funny – the bathrooms have frosted glass, for privacy while you do your business, which is appreciated (although, the ceiling is open to the room, so you had better be comfortable enough with your traveling companion if you’re going to do anything particularly noisy or smelly!). However, just along the edge of the bathroom there was a slight gap, so that this was my view as I got out of the shower, naked.

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(Made me wonder if others could see in!)

 

In addition to the glass igloos, there’s the snow hotel itself. It’s built new each year, so the rooms look different year to year. You can visit the snow hotel easily from Rovaniemi (it’s about half an hour away by car, and many of the tour companies offer this tour), and of course it’s tourable if you’re staying on site. The intricate designs are spectacular!

Room, Arctic Snow Hotel

Room, Arctic Snow Hotel

IRoom, Arctic Snow Hotel

There’s also a super friendly reindeer on site:

Reindeer

Since Baby J was sick, we opted to have dinner in the lodge (possibly our best meal on our entire trip), but they also have a restaurant in the snow hotel, along with an ice bar. The ice bar doesn’t open until 10pm, though – we would have had a drink there if there had been a bartender on site in the afternoon.

Ice restaurant, Arctic Snow Hotel

Ice restaurant, Arctic Snow Hotel

Ice Bar, Arctic Snow Hotel

Ice Bar, Arctic Snow Hotel

It’s pricey, but certainly a once in a lifetime experience.  We saw a shooting star, a couple of satellites, and so many stars.  And, of course, if you get to see the northern lights, it’s even better!

Night sky

Night sky

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Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of our trip for more photos!

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Categories: Finland, Travels | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Visiting Lapland – Part 1 (of 3)

Lapland, home of Santa and reindeer and the northern lights. And after three years of living in Finland, we finally made it!

We left home on March 17 and took the overnight train to Rovaniemi. Incidentally, the 17th was the night the northern lights went crazy! My neighbors took photos from our backyard, they were even seen as far south as Helsinki! And I was stuck on a train. *eye roll*

The train ride was nice, the beds were actually pretty comfy. The cabin was tiny, of course, but what do you expect? We had a private bathroom with a shower, but there wasn’t any hot water, at least on our trip north. The train had a car carrier, so we were able to take our car with us. Load it up, sleep the night away, then drive the car off the train in the morning. It’s a pretty nice setup!

Sleeping cabin on train

Our cabin on the train – Stephen’s leg is propped against the left wall (to give you an idea about the size).

We arrived in Rovaniemi around 11am the next day, too early to check into our hotel. So we went for lunch, then checked out the Arktikum museum. The museum was…boring. Or I was tired. One of the two. Actually, the museum had some neat exhibits, and it would be a lot of fun with a kid around 7 years old. Note to self – take Baby J back when he’s older!

Ceiling of Arktikum Museum

The ceiling of the Arktikum museum

I braved the cold that first night and went out to a spot I had read about online, on the river by the museum. I set up the camera on the tripod and spent some time fiddling with the camera settings. Once I had the camera focused, I stood back and waited.

Night Sky

Night Sky, Rovaniemi

It was a mostly clear night, just some thin high clouds every once in a while. I was still close enough to the city to have quite a bit of light pollution, but I could still see the stars. I watched the thin clouds come and go for about an hour, then I saw one cloud that looked a bit…odd. And was that a hint of green? I took a picture, waited for the 30 second exposure, then checked the screen. I’ll be damned – that was it.

Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis

My first glimpse of The Northern Lights!

And this is where I want to address the issue. The Northern Lights, at least what I saw, despite the photo above, were not what I would call amazing. To the naked eye, they looked like exactly what I described earlier – light bouncing off high thin clouds. Yes, some of them had the minutist green tint to them, but for the most part, they just looked like clouds. The camera, with a longer exposure, is able to bring out the colors, and they are beautiful. But standing out there in the cold at midnight, I was quite disappointed. They didn’t dance across the sky like I had heard.  I found a post by another blogger that talks about the color of the auroras, and the author does a good job at explaining the difference between what your eyes see and what the camera sees.  I just wish I had read it prior to seeing it for myself – maybe then I wouldn’t have been disappointed!!

Regardless, I am glad I got the chance to see them and photograph them. I feel like I did fairly well with focusing in the dark, and with exposure, although they may be a bit overexposed. The pictures turned out amazing, even if the real time experience wasn’t as spectacular as I had hoped.  🙂

Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis, Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland

Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis, Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland

Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis, Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland

Stay tuned for Part II of our trip!

Categories: Finland | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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