The Finnish Autumn is known colloquially as ‘Ruska’ and is a few weeks in September when the leaves on the trees change from a vivid green to an array of reds, oranges and yellows, presenting an incredibly picturesque vista to visitors to this part of the world. The forest floors are carpeted with berries and mushrooms, creating a vast edible carpet for the local wildlife population. We were lucky to come when the weather was still pleasant with clear blue skies in the day and crisp cold nights. Our trip was a bit of a whirlwind tour of all the locations we offer in Finland, but the following were real highlights:
· Standing on the banks of Lake Inari at Nellim which is truly one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. The water seems to go on forever and the trees which surround it were the most vivid colours. It was hard to imagine that this is completely frozen and covered in snow in the winter, but easy to see why this is such a sought after location.
· When driving on the roads in Finland it is highly likely that you can drive for long stretches of time without seeing anything or anyone, so it came as somewhat of a surprise when we saw two reindeer making their way across the road at a leisurely manner, without a care in the world. Being non-locals we of course stopped to gaze at these gentle creatures and take the obligatory photo. According to our local guides, they are at their loveliest at this time of year before they start to shed their antlers and look a little scruffy!
· This was the first time I got to try sautéed reindeer (poronkäristys) and mash with lingonberry sauce. This is a lovely local dish which is both delicious and filling and is still a huge disappointment to me that it is not common in the UK.
· We got to visit the Amethyst Mine which first and foremost offers a spectacular panoramic view over the Fells. Travelling down into the depths we were able to see the mine and where the amethysts are formed and found. The timescales are pretty astonishing, with amethysts being formed here over 3000 million years!
· As a huge dog lover, the trip to meet the huskies was a great highlight and we were greeted with an enthusiastic cacophony of barking and whining. At this time of year the dogs are training in preparation for a winter of hard work. It is also puppy season so were lucky enough to meet some very young puppies who had been born a week previously. Adorable!
· After a four hour drive we found our way to Kilpisjarvi in the far flung edge of Finnish Lapland. Here we got a wonderful glimpse of the pitch black skies that make themselves known in these vastly remote areas and for a very short few seconds saw a streak of green across the sky. I’m not sure I could call it my first Northern Lights viewing, but it was pretty spectacular nonetheless! Whilst here we were also lucky enough to go up in a Sea Plane and view the incredible scenery, including the point where the three Scandinavian countries (Finland, Sweden and Norway) meet.
· You definitely can’t travel to this part of the world and not enjoy a sauna so I took the opportunity to make the most of them and got hooked. My aim in life is now to have a bathroom with an inbuilt sauna…