Author, Editor and Publisher
An ongoing series of reviews on places visited
Our Latest Blog Entry
It is a bit difficult at this time to visit any venues or restaurants given the COVID19 restrictions.
So, there will be a series of reviews from the last 12 months to keep you dreaming of coming out of lock-down!
See the Northern Lights in Finland
Menesjarvi – Wilderness Auroras during the Finnish Autumn
Aurora Zone, 4 nights, flying Finnair from Heathrow
This is my last attempt to see the Northern Lights as not a sign of them on my trip to Iceland last winter!
Aurora Zone were very helpful and include detailed information about what to pack depending on the time of year and type of trip. Euros are accepted everywhere in Finland, and they have better WiFi reception than we do at home in Wales.
September is the Finnish ‘Ruska’ season, autumn, nights drawing in and trees changing to vibrant orange and gold - perfect for intense reflections in the calm stillness of Lake Minesjarvi. Surprising to think of seeing the Northern Lights at this time of year, but here in the northern-most part of Finnish Lapland, well within the Arctic Circle, the Aurora Borealis is seen from mid-August.
Sami herders have lived in this region for centuries, the importance of their cultural heritage recognized more fully now at nearby Slida museum in Inari. With visits to see husky dogs, reindeer, wood-craft in local forest, and a session on how best to photograph the Northern Lights, it is a packed itinerary that also gives a few time-slots to just relax, explore (no shops in walking distance), or take in the beautiful surroundings.
We stayed at Hotel Korpikartano on the edge of Lake Minesjarvi, originally a boarding school now converted to comfortable wood-pannelled bedrooms, lounge area and dining room. It is very remote, but a perfect location with no light-pollution to hinder the look-out for the Lights. This is a lovely warm, comfortable hotel that provides real home-cooked food using many local ingredients such as mushrooms from the nearby woods.
After a lovely home-cooked meal, we had a session on how to set up a camera for the best shots. Mine is a digital camera, a good one but not easy to change settings. We were given a tripod each as it needs a longer exposure for night-time shots. For those who want the details – 800 or 1600 ISO, 5-15 seconds exposure time, focus on infinity with Autofocus off (I think!). A good start to the trip.
There are many different types of lichen and moss on the ground and trees nearby, adding to the diet of roaming reindeer. There are four resident reindeer in this area. It is also fungi land, fantastically-shaped mushrooms and toadstools everywhere. We had a great guide, very knowledgeable, and I can confirm that we now know the difference between reindeer and moose droppings…
Back to the hotel for lunch in the little hut next to the lake. With coffee and tea brewed over the open fire, we cooked our large reindeer/pork sausages enjoyed with bread and mustard.Free time, dinner, then out to find best spot near the lake to catch sight of the Lights as the sky was clearer today.
Beautiful reflections as sun setting, very dark by 11.15 pm when something started to form across the lake. Yes! Two shapes across the sky, green, growing stronger with perfect reflections in the lake. Excellent.
Prague city break
A great city for a long weekend break although you do need to be in a central hotel rather than 3 miles out as we were - the Occidental Praiha. A beautiful hotel around 10 minute walk to the river or catch a bus to go into the centre.
The river is stunning at any time of the day, especially in the warm Autumn sunshine. Good for taking those shots of lights reflecting on its surface as you drift by on one of the tourist Dinner Boats.
Of course, there are reminders of the bleak times suffered by people over the last 100 years, so these statues are very moving.
Finally, of course, you cannot visit Prague as a city of beer without sampling a glass or two. And yes, it is difficult to find photographs of us without a glass in our hands!