I just took a second to realize how many countries I have now been to and how many I will have checked-off by the end of the summer… And it’s awesome.
4. Costa Rica
8. Kenya (x 2)
14. The Netherlands
Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Italy (2nd time), Spain, Switzerland, France, UK, Ireland
On day 4 we were able to experience a taste of Norway. We crossed the border and stopped in a village called Bugoynes. I remember being very overwhelmed by the beauty of the fishing village as our bus drove along the curving road around rocky hills, with reindeer running around and brightly painted homes contrasting against the the dark grey sky. I so badly wanted the bus to stop so I could take photos but I had to wait… As soon as we stopped I ran (carefully, as it was extremely icy) out to start shooting.
Eventually the group coaxed me back, as we were about to head to a local woman’s sauna. She was the sweetest lady ever and told us stories about living in such a small and quiet village that has a population of less than 300 and only has one grocery store! Her husband was one of the men who built the road in the 60’s, finally connecting the village by other means than the sea to the rest of the world.
After the introduction, she welcomed us into her saunas to get warm before we would run into the frigid Arctic Ocean… We got our sweat on, then screamed our way down the stairs, through some snow, across the sand and into the water. It immediately numbed me but it was exhilarating and I was able to do it a couple more times. The last time in I stayed for a solid minute (not even close the the 7 minutes some other guy lasted!).
Next, we were fed a delicious lunch from some friendly fishermen! Fresh fish soup (like, caught-while-we-were-in-the-saunas fresh) and warm bread. We then took a hike up a hill to check out the gorgeous view over the village before the bus ride back to Saariselka
Day 3 was action packed. A few of us had some free time to explore the town and entertain ourselves, so after a nice walk into town we grabbed some sleds back at the cottage to take on the longest sledding hill in Northern Europe! It. Was. Amazing. The walk up is a brutal struggle and we were drenched in sweat by the time we reached the top, but the ride down is so worth it, we trekked up about 3 more times. Starting at the summit of Kaunispää, the run takes you for 1.2km and you go so fast! I had the best time!
For the last run down for the afternoon, some friends decided to take a chairlift back up. But myself and a couple friends had the bright idea to walk up a very steep ski hill and make our way back to the cottage. Every step we took was very questionable, as suddenly the snow would break beneath us and our legs plummeted down so deep it reached our hips. It was an intense struggle to simply move a couple meters. We resorted to crawling, and could hardly manage not to collapse with laughter as our hands also suddenly vanished beneath the snow.
Later that night the tour company took us on a snowshoe trek up a big hill. We didn’t get to catch anymore Northern Lights, but we got to witness the hilarity of people losing all control when snowshoes are strapped to their feet. Then, much to our surprise at the top, we traded in our shoes for tiny saucers… to sled down on… down the massive run again! They were incredibly hard to maneuver and they proved to be an unreal ab workout, with trying to balance ever so precisely on your tailbone. But once I got the hang of it I ripped down the hill and laughed the whole way.
To celebrate surviving the hill for a fourth time in a day, we met up in a fire hut to cook sausages and get warm again.