Lapland, Finland

In Search of the Fire Fox


dawn time
Northern lights in full, in Kakslauttanen.
boreal architecture
The glass igloos of the Kakslauttanen hotel, created on purpose to facilitate the observation of Northern Lights.
Alto das Faias
Snow-covered beech trees on a slope of Ounasvara, on the outskirts of Rovaniemi.
sharp ice
Long stalactites testify to the drop in temperature in Finnish Lapland.
arctic on fire
The sun sets and tinges the sky orange around Ounasvara.
winter alone
Typical country house in Finnish Lapland, red and lost in a snowy forest.
arctic heat
Visitors to Finnish Lapland socialize and eat sausages around a fire, resigned to the impossibility of seeing northern lights that night.
the iglo
Interior view of one of the igloos of the Kakslauttanen hotel.
Northern lights in Menesjarvi
Northern lights over the small village on the shore of Lake Menesjarvi.
Puddle in Menesjarvi.
Visitors examine a puddle in the icy lake of Menesjarvi.
Santa Klaus House
Santa Klaus House, Kakslauttanen.
Aurora over Northern Lights meanders above the houses of Kakslauttanen.
Northern lights meanders above the houses of Kakslauttanen.
Unique to the heights of the Earth are the northern or southern auroras, light phenomena generated by solar explosions. You Sami natives from Lapland they believed it to be a fiery fox that spread sparkles in the sky. Whatever they are, not even the nearly 30 degrees below zero that were felt in the far north of Finland could deter us from admiring them.

The day remained bleak like all others, from November to April, in those extreme European latitudes.

We had spent it exploring the region around Saariselka, with the time divided into separate walks. One that ended with sauna combined with vantouinti: the practice so idolized in Finland of diving and swimming for a very short duration in a small hole opened in a frozen river buried in snow.

Shortly after sunset, we returned to Kakslauttanen. As was to be expected, as soon as we finished dinner, tiredness took over our bodies and minds.

We were in the most popular hotel in the town, famous above all for providing guests with stays designed to facilitate the observation of northern lights, in large capsules created in reinforced glass.

Northern Lights, Laponia, Rovaniemi, Finland, Fire Fox, Northern Architecture

The glass igloos of the Kakslauttanen hotel, created on purpose to facilitate the observation of Northern Lights.

The hotel restaurant closes. With nothing else to do, enthusiastic about the mission ahead but already somewhat anesthetized by fatigue, we settled into the special shelter that had been given to us.

We downloaded the day's images, reviewed the photographic equipment, resumed reading some articles and guides on the final destination frigid that we had set out to discover.

This, of course, with systematic pauses to scan the sky above for suspicious lights. We both held on for some time with these distractions and a lot of drawn-out conversation, each time more forced.

Until we were forced to establish a shift regime, which was only a little painful.

The Desperate Wait. And the Celebrated Appearance of the Northern Lights

By midnight, this regime had been overthrown by the unstoppable forces of sleep. We were both sleeping without any awareness of defeat when a hint of anxiety awakened us and turned our eyes upward.

A strange shimmer lit the sky in an irregular rhythm, but it didn't reveal any unusual hue to us. “This must be some sneaky disco light from Kakskautannem…” we convince ourselves without putting much faith in our luck.

But the light had no pulsation or repetition pattern. We analyzed it for a few additional moments and rejected that hypothesis. "It can not be. It can only be them! They are beginning, we conclude in an almost hysterical ecstasy.

We put on the layers of clothing we needed to survive the excruciating cold outside, grabbed the tripod and the rest of the equipment and left the glassed-in igloo.

Outside, we were able to see the starry sky better. We noticed at a glance that the Northern Lights followed one another above and, in a shade of yellowish-green, stretched, shrank and writhed in much of the breadth of the celestial vault.

Aurora in Kakslauttanen, Finnish Laponia, Finland

Northern lights meanders above the houses of Kakslauttanen.

Departure for the -28th Atrocious of Finnish Lapland

We looked for a place that covered the village's dim lighting and we were fascinated by the event's extraterrestrial dance and admired them, always curious about how much more they would expand and change tones.

Only hours later did we return to the igloo, with our feet numb from the continual immobility and our hands even worse from the frequency with which we exposed them to the air, to the metal of the tripod and part of the cameras, all at almost XNUMX degrees below zero.

It was the first time we saw Northern Lights.

It wouldn't be the last.

In that part of the world, the northern lights – as they are also called – can be seen on about 100 nights a year concentrated between September and April.

Today, most natives do not bother to leave property to check the sky, or they don't even notice that the phenomenon is happening right over their heads.

Puddle in Lake Menesjarvi, Finnish Laponia, Finland

Visitors examine a puddle in the icy lake of Menesjarvi.

Native Sami Interpretations of the Northern Lights

In historical terms, the various Sami groups they arrived at different explanations, each one more original than the rest. Some believed they were beings with a soul and the ability to hear and understand humans.

The Sami Skolt thought they were the souls of people killed in war.

Others thought it was gas that rose from the sea and lakes. But the most popular belief in Lapland explained the phenomenon with a fire fox that ran across the fields waving its long tail.

In the old days, women didn't dare go out without a hat or a cloth over their heads, afraid of getting their hair burned.

During the more pronounced movements of the aurora borealis, no one was supposed to make noise or speak. The Sami also avoided pointing to the sky for fear of insulting them and being punished by them.

Most of its users are not aware of it, but it was this same incandescent fox that the Firefox search engine popularized with its logo with the canid surrounding the blue planet.

Northern Lights, Laponia, Rovaniemi, Finland, Fire Fox

Northern lights in full, in Kakslauttanen.

Travel to Inari, Far North of Finnish Lapland

The itinerary we had established evolved north to Inari, close to the northern boundary of the suomi nation. We continued our search there.

At Inari, we dedicate as much time as possible to Kings Cup, the grand finale of reindeer racing which brings together Sami breeders and jockeys from all over the country to socialize and compete on the completely frozen lake Inari.

On one of those days, we stayed at the edge of Lake Menesjärvi, in an old abandoned school that a family had turned into an inn.

Northern Lights, Laponia, Rovaniemi, Finland, Fire Fox, Winter alone

Typical country house in Finnish Lapland, red and lost in a snowy forest.

There, we found ourselves far from any village and without much else to do.

At the same time, twilight set in under an almost clear sky.

New Northern Lights Search. On the Icy Surface of Lake Menesjärvi

We went back out onto the frozen lake and waited. We were far more unprotected than in Kakslautannem's pods. To compensate, the initial wait proved much shorter.

The night had not yet completely darkened when we noticed the first dance in the sky, a less vivid green than the sightings of a few days ago.

Northern Lights, Menesjarvi, Finnish Laponia, Finland

Northern lights over the small village on the shore of Lake Menesjarvi.

The pitch set in. The auroras intensified for a good 40 minutes, over the lake and the surrounding boreal forest. At first, we ran to alert the other guests that they had started.

When they were interrupted, we once again spent hours waiting for them to return.

Until the temperature dropped unbearably and led us to suggest in the dining room, we set up a watch scheme in short alternations.

Northern Lights, Laponia, Rovaniemi, Finland, Fire Fox, Sharp Ice

Long stalactites testify to the drop in temperature in Finnish Lapland.

We realized, however, that the international group had been content with what they saw after our warning.

Alone in that quest, chilled and exhausted, we withdrew, in the hope that the fox would not appear while we slept.

One year later. New sequel to the Finnish Aurora Borealis Saga

The following year we returned to Finnish Lapland. We returned determined to better explore its capital Rovaniemi and the surrounding region. We also took the opportunity to debut in the practice of cross country skiing, sacred modality in those parts.

We did it in Ounasvaara, at the base of a winter sports resort that stretched out on a slope as measured as they are in Finland.

Northern Lights, Laponia, Rovaniemi, Finland, Fire Fox, Alto das Faias

Snow-covered beech trees on a slope of Ounasvara, on the outskirts of Rovaniemi.

It had already occurred to us that twilight must be fabulous from the top of the hill. We climbed aboard the pigtails that passed us. Even crammed and hampered by photo backpacks and other ill-kept possessions, we conquered it effortlessly.

When we land on the summit, the sun dissolves into a vast western section of the horizon. Free from the protection of the slope, the wind blows high and furious.

In such a way that it seems to spread that orange stain of sunset, not just the snow that enters our eyes and freezes our reddened cheeks.

A Lush Sunset, as a Celestial Preamble to the Night Show

We are luckier than we expected. The Sky Ounasvaara hotel is just a few steps away. We find the semi-buried base of the access stairs and go up to the panoramic terrace.

From there, we unveil the white vastness of the center of Lapland, already tinged with an overwhelming pink.

Northern Lights, Laponia, Rovaniemi, Finland, Fire Fox, Arctic in Fire

Sun sets and tinges the sky orange around Ounasvaara.

Snow-laden beeches fill the slope as far as the eye can see, or at least until their diffuse vision merges with that of the houses of Rovaniemi and its surroundings, dispersed throughout the adjoining valley.

A bluish nightfall ends up imposing itself on the succession of tones that until then had decorated the atmosphere. We retired to the hotel fireplace and recovered from the near freezing we had once again undergone.

Once the heat and spirits have returned, every ten minutes one of us returns to the terrace and scans the sky for the magical lights. We give up after two hours when an inconvenient cloud cover the firmament without appeal.

Around nine we arrived at another hotel, the Arctic. We await you at the reception. Dozens of Japanese pay large euros for the privilege of observing the phenomenon with special conditions and comfort, including being able to recover from the cold inside a tipi, around a fire, with the right to roast sausages, hot coffee and tea.

A manager rescues us from the wait among the Japanese. Take us to the local Ice Palace.

We drink vodka in the bar, walk through the various rooms and renew our amazement at the excellence of those gigantic seasonal sculptures.

After the tour, we walked to the edge of the lake near the hotel.

Northern Lights Contemplation among Japanese Admirers

This time, we don't even have to wait.

There are still a few meters to the shore when we start to hear “aaaahs”, “ooohhhs” and “sugois” (cool, in Japanese). We arrived at the frozen bed. We found a battalion of Japanese and other Asians in absolute ecstasy with the spectacle in the sky.

Over the lake and the adjoining forest, an aurora borealis, sometimes green, sometimes yellow, wriggles and writhes again in a fascinating magnetic dance.

Northern Lights, Laponia, Rovaniemi, Finland, Fire Fox

Northern lights in full, in Kakslauttanen.

The Japanese, in particular, win, then and there, the day and the mini-vacation. With greater abundance of snow, during winter, in several areas of your mountainous country, in the case of the hyper-snowy region of Shirakawa Go – above all, the Northern Lights attract them at this time of year to flat Finland.

In addition to appreciating its eccentric beauty, many travel halfway around the world imbued with the belief that those space lights will grant them a better sex life and fertility.

Fire Fox's Last Days with No Signal

For us, it was already the third sighting. We continued to try but the following days remained cloudy. We had signed up for a small excursion that proposed to look for the northern lights around a lake and a small farm inhabited by a community that lived, in the old-fashioned way of Lapland.

We soon realized – like everyone else in the group – that with a sky there almost completely covered, the probability of seeing them was close to zero.

Northern Lights, Laponia, Rovaniemi, Finland, Fire Fox

Visitors to Finnish Lapland socialize and eat sausages, resigned to the impossibility of seeing Northern Lights that night.

Reformed, we focused on the best we could find at ground level. We socialized and devoured freshly grilled sausages around a huge fire that we were all feeding.

The fox never deigned to appear.

We were content with just fire.

Kemi, Finland

It is No "Love Boat". Icebreaker since 1961

Built to maintain waterways through the most extreme arctic winter, the icebreaker Sampo” fulfilled its mission between Finland and Sweden for 30 years. In 1988, he reformed and dedicated himself to shorter trips that allow passengers to float in a newly opened channel in the Gulf of Bothnia, in clothes that, more than special, seem spacey.
Hailuoto Island, Finland

Fishing for Truly Fresh Fish

Sheltered from unwanted social pressures, the islanders of Hailuoto they know how to sustain themselves. Under the icy sea of ​​Bothnia they capture precious ingredients for the restaurants of Oulu, in mainland Finland.
Helsinki, Finland

Finland's once Swedish Fortress

Detached in a small archipelago at the entrance to Helsinki, Suomenlinna was built by the Swedish kingdom's political-military designs. For more than a century, the Russia stopped her. Since 1917, the Suomi people have venerated it as the historic bastion of their thorny independence.
Inari, Finland

The Babel Parliament of the Sami Nation

The Sami Nation comprises four countries, which ingest into the lives of their peoples. In the parliament of Inari, in various dialects, the Sami govern themselves as they can.
Rovaniemi, Finland

From the Finnish Lapland to the Arctic. A Visit to the Land of Santa

Fed up with waiting for the bearded old man to descend down the chimney, we reverse the story. We took advantage of a trip to Finnish Lapland and passed through its furtive home.
Kuusamo ao PN Oulanka, Finland

Under the Arctic's Icy Spell

We are at 66º North and at the gates of Lapland. In these parts, the white landscape belongs to everyone and to no one like the snow-covered trees, the atrocious cold and the endless night.
Inari, Finland

The Guardians of Boreal Europe

Long discriminated against by Scandinavian, Finnish and Russian settlers, the Sami people regain their autonomy and pride themselves on their nationality.
Saariselka, Finland

The Delightful Arctic Heat

It is said that the Finns created SMS so they don't have to talk. The imagination of cold Nordics is lost in the mist of their beloved saunas, real physical and social therapy sessions.
Helsinki, Finland

A Frigid-Scholarly Via Crucis

When Holy Week arrives, Helsinki shows its belief. Despite the freezing cold, little dressed actors star in a sophisticated re-enactment of Via Crucis through streets full of spectators.
Helsinki, Finland

The Design that Came from the Cold

With much of the territory above the Arctic Circle, Finns respond to the climate with efficient solutions and an obsession with art, aesthetics and modernism inspired by neighboring Scandinavia.
PN Oulanka, Finland

A Slightly Lonesome Wolf

Jukka “Era-Susi” Nordman has created one of the largest packs of sled dogs in the world. He became one of Finland's most iconic characters but remains faithful to his nickname: Wilderness Wolf.
Hailuoto, Finland

A Refuge in the Gulf of Bothnia

During winter, the island of Hailuoto is connected to the rest of Finland by the country's longest ice road. Most of its 986 inhabitants esteem, above all, the distance that the island grants them.
Helsinki, Finland

The Pagan Passover of Seurasaari

In Helsinki, Holy Saturday is also celebrated in a Gentile way. Hundreds of families gather on an offshore island, around lit fires to chase away evil spirits, witches and trolls
Inari, Finland

The Wackiest Race on the Top of the World

Finland's Lapps have been competing in the tow of their reindeer for centuries. In the final of the Kings Cup - Porokuninkuusajot - , they face each other at great speed, well above the Arctic Circle and well below zero.
Porvoo, Finland

A Medieval and Winter Finland

One of the oldest settlements of the Suomi nation, in the early XNUMXth century, Porvoo was a busy riverside post and its third city. Over time, Porvoo lost commercial importance. In return, it has become one of Finland's revered historic strongholds.  
Oulu, Finland

Oulu: an Ode to Winter

Located high in the northeast of the Gulf of Bothnia, Oulu is one of Finland's oldest cities and its northern capital. A mere 220km from the Arctic Circle, even in the coldest months it offers a prodigious outdoor life.
Masai Mara Reservation, Masai Land Travel, Kenya, Masai Convivial
Safari
Masai Mara, Kenya

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Hikers on the Ice Lake Trail, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 7th - Braga - Ice Lake, Nepal

Annapurna Circuit – The Painful Acclimatization of the Ice Lake

On the way up to the Ghyaru village, we had a first and unexpected show of how ecstatic the Annapurna Circuit can be tasted. Nine kilometers later, in Braga, due to the need to acclimatize, we climbed from 3.470m from Braga to 4.600m from Lake Kicho Tal. We only felt some expected tiredness and the increase in the wonder of the Annapurna Mountains.
shadow vs light
Architecture & Design
Kyoto, Japan

The Kyoto Temple Reborn from the Ashes

The Golden Pavilion has been spared destruction several times throughout history, including that of US-dropped bombs, but it did not withstand the mental disturbance of Hayashi Yoken. When we admired him, he looked like never before.
The small lighthouse at Kallur, highlighted in the capricious northern relief of the island of Kalsoy.
Adventure
Kalsoy, Faroe Islands

A Lighthouse at the End of the Faroese World

Kalsoy is one of the most isolated islands in the Faroe archipelago. Also known as “the flute” due to its long shape and the many tunnels that serve it, a mere 75 inhabitants inhabit it. Much less than the outsiders who visit it every year, attracted by the boreal wonder of its Kallur lighthouse.
Tiredness in shades of green
Ceremonies and Festivities
Suzdal, Russia

The Suzdal Cucumber Celebrations

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Cathedral, Funchal, Madeira
Cities
Funchal, Madeira

Portal to a Nearly Tropical Portugal

Madeira is located less than 1000km north of the Tropic of Cancer. And the luxuriant exuberance that earned it the nickname of the garden island of the Atlantic can be seen in every corner of its steep capital.
Meal
Markets

A Market Economy

The law of supply and demand dictates their proliferation. Generic or specific, covered or open air, these spaces dedicated to buying, selling and exchanging are expressions of life and financial health.
Tombola, street bingo-Campeche, Mexico
Culture
Campeche, Mexico

A Bingo so playful that you play with puppets

On Friday nights, a group of ladies occupy tables at Independencia Park and bet on trifles. The tiniest prizes come out to them in combinations of cats, hearts, comets, maracas and other icons.
Spectator, Melbourne Cricket Ground-Rules footbal, Melbourne, Australia
Sport
Melbourne, Australia

The Football the Australians Rule

Although played since 1841, Australian Football has only conquered part of the big island. Internationalization has never gone beyond paper, held back by competition from rugby and classical football.
forms of payment when traveling, shopping abroad
Traveling
Travel does not cost

On the next trip, don't let your money fly

Not only the time of year and in advance with which we book flights, stays, etc. influence the cost of a trip. The payment methods we use at destinations can make a big difference.
Vanuatu, Cruise in Wala
Ethnic
Wala, Vanuatu

Cruise ship in Sight, the Fair Settles In

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portfolio, Got2Globe, Travel photography, images, best photographs, travel photos, world, Earth
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Portfolio Got2globe

The Best in the World – Got2Globe Portfolio

Balestrand townhouse, Norway
History
Balestrand, Norway

Balestrand: A Life Among the Fjords

Villages on the slopes of the gorges of Norway are common. Balestrand is at the entrance to three. Its settings stand out in such a way that they have attracted famous painters and continue to seduce intrigued travelers.
Bonaire, island, Netherlands Antilles, ABC, Caribbean, Rincon
Islands
Rincon, Bonaire

The Pioneering Corner of the Netherlands Antilles

Shortly after Columbus' arrival in the Americas, the Castilians discovered a Caribbean island they called Brazil. Afraid of the pirate threat, they hid their first village in a valley. One century after, the Dutch took over this island and renamed it Bonaire. They didn't erase the unpretentious name of the trailblazer colony: Rincon.
Horses under a snow, Iceland Never Ending Snow Island Fire
Winter White
Husavik a Myvatn, Iceland

Endless Snow on the Island of Fire

When, in mid-May, Iceland already enjoys some sun warmth but the cold and snow persist, the inhabitants give in to an intriguing summer anxiety.
silhouette and poem, Cora coralina, Goias Velho, Brazil
Literature
Goiás Velho, Brazil

The Life and Work of a Marginal Writer

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Lenticular cloud, Mount Cook, New Zealand.
Nature
Mount cook, New Zealand

The Cloud Piercer Mountain

Aoraki/Mount Cook may fall far short of the world's roof but it is New Zealand's highest and most imposing mountain.
Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Autumn
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
Serengeti, Great Savannah Migration, Tanzania, wildebeest on river
Natural Parks
Serengeti NP, Tanzania

The Great Migration of the Endless Savanna

In these prairies that the Masai people say syringet (run forever), millions of wildebeests and other herbivores chase the rains. For predators, their arrival and that of the monsoon are the same salvation.
Grand Canyon, Arizona, Travel North America, Abysmal, Hot Shadows
UNESCO World Heritage
Grand Canyon, USA

Journey through the Abysmal North America

The Colorado River and tributaries began flowing into the plateau of the same name 17 million years ago and exposed half of Earth's geological past. They also carved one of its most stunning entrails.
aggie gray, Samoa, South Pacific, Marlon Brando Fale
Characters
Apia, Western Samoa

The Host of the South Pacific

She sold burguês to GI's in World War II and opened a hotel that hosted Marlon Brando and Gary Cooper. Aggie Gray passed away in 2. Her legacy lives on in the South Pacific.
Promise?
Beaches
Goa, India

To Goa, Quickly and in Strength

A sudden longing for Indo-Portuguese tropical heritage makes us travel in various transports but almost non-stop, from Lisbon to the famous Anjuna beach. Only there, at great cost, were we able to rest.
Pemba, Mozambique, Capital of Cabo Delgado, from Porto Amélia to Porto de Abrigo, Paquitequete
Religion
Pemba, Mozambique

From Porto Amélia to the Shelter Port of Mozambique

In July 2017, we visited Pemba. Two months later, the first attack took place on Mocímboa da Praia. Nor then do we dare to imagine that the tropical and sunny capital of Cabo Delgado would become the salvation of thousands of Mozambicans fleeing a terrifying jihadism.
The Toy Train story
On Rails
Siliguri a Darjeeling, India

The Himalayan Toy Train Still Running

Neither the steep slope of some stretches nor the modernity stop it. From Siliguri, in the tropical foothills of the great Asian mountain range, the Darjeeling, with its peaks in sight, the most famous of the Indian Toy Trains has ensured for 117 years, day after day, an arduous dream journey. Traveling through the area, we climb aboard and let ourselves be enchanted.
Society
Cemeteries

the last address

From the grandiose tombs of Novodevichy, in Moscow, to the boxed Mayan bones of Pomuch, in the Mexican province of Campeche, each people flaunts its own way of life. Even in death.
Fruit sellers, Swarm, Mozambique
Daily life
Enxame Mozambique

Mozambican Fashion Service Area

It is repeated at almost all stops in towns of Mozambique worthy of appearing on maps. The machimbombo (bus) stops and is surrounded by a crowd of eager "businessmen". The products offered can be universal such as water or biscuits or typical of the area. In this region, a few kilometers from Nampula, fruit sales suceeded, in each and every case, quite intense.
female and cub, grizzly footsteps, katmai national park, alaska
Wildlife
PN Katmai, Alaska

In the Footsteps of the Grizzly Man

Timothy Treadwell spent summers on end with the bears of Katmai. Traveling through Alaska, we followed some of its trails, but unlike the species' crazy protector, we never went too far.
Full Dog Mushing
Scenic Flights
Seward, Alaska

The Alaskan Dog Mushing Summer

It's almost 30 degrees and the glaciers are melting. In Alaska, entrepreneurs have little time to get rich. Until the end of August, dog mushing cannot stop.