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Do you know that feeling of waking up in the morning and looking out of the window only to find a winter wonderland that has come from nowhere? Even though I've now lived through 4 winters in Norway, I still find those mornings as magical as I did as a child.
To me, there's just nothing more peaceful than a thick layer of snow. Not only because snow brightens up dark winter nights, but also because it absorbs all kinds of city noise. It even felt peaceful when the whole city of Tromsø had to sit in darkness for 5 hours as a snowstorm caused a major blackout - I tell you, "the Beast from the East" is nothing compared to a normal day in the Arctic...
Long story short, I thought I knew the true meaning of "winter wonderland" from what I've experienced in Tromsø these past few years. Little did I know, though, that there's one place that takes snow to a whole new level: Ruka-Kuusamo in Finnish Lapland! Read on to find out why the area might very well be the most stunning part of Finland - and why the country needs more than just 1 word for snow!*
The cabin of my dreams
It dawned on me that we've arrived in a winter heaven already on the drive from the airport. Nothing but dark curvy roads accompanied by snow trolls - tall trees packed with snow, or tykky as the Finns would say.
We didn't get to see much of our accommodation upon arrival. It was late in the evening, pitch black outside, and we were all kind of sleepy from the flight. The first sight of the log cabin Isokenkäisten Klubi in the woods, in what felt like the middle of nowhere, did however, already seem like the cabin of my dreams while it was still dark - and boy, did I fell love with it for good in the morning!
Isokenkäisten Klubi is a holiday village in the wilderness of North-Eastern Finland, only 2km from the Russian border. It is run by the sisters Katja Vira and Sirpa Kämäräinen, who took over the family business from their parents. Founded in the 1970s, the place first attracted businessmen from Helsinki, giving it the nickname Isokenkäisten Klubi - Club of the Big-Shoe People.
We had a wonderful dinner upon arrival - freshly baked bread and salad, reindeer meat with mashed potatoes and local berries, as well as chocolate cake - and pretty much fell straight to bed afterwards. It was -20 degrees in the morning and I couldn't help but head outside to admire the winter wonderland already before breakfast!
The guest house at Isokenkäisten Klubi, as well as the Wilderness Hotel Kortteeri and the guest cottages, are all situated at Lake Heikinjärvi. There are no roads disturbing the peace and there aren't any street lights either. Picture 70cm of snow, fairy lights and complete silence except for the sound of the snow crunching underneath your feet.
50 shades of white
There are 200 days of snow a year in Ruka-Kuusamo. From the early days of snow in autumn with vity (fresh and fluffy snow) to kuura (ice crystals on the ground) and riite (a crust of ice on the snow).
Then there's the real winter - December to February, which is when I visited. This time of year is characterized by ajolumi (snow that's blown away by the wind) and polanne (a compact layer of frozen snow on the ground).
Spring then again is the time when the snow slowly starts to melt. Nuoska is snow that is softened by mild temperatures while huove is porous snow and loska is watery snow that's almost diminished.
There are countless words for snow in the Finnish language and I say countless because there are sources stating everything from 58 to 75 to 120 words. The words seem to depend on regional dialects and weather phenomena. Either way, I guess you see why it makes sense to have this many words for snow in a country that experiences such a long and cold winter like Finland.
Exploring the holiday village at Isokenkäisten Klubi in the crisp morning air was such a treat and I could totally see the need for different words for snow. I wonder if they have a word for the holes in Finnish, after when you leave the trail and think the snow is firm but turns out it's not and you end up being stuck up to your knees in it... I left a couple of those in the village...
The vastness of Lapland
If I had to choose the cabin of my dreams, I'd have a hard time doing so there - they have tons of gorgeous cottages!
Nothing like a lonely snowy cabin in the wilderness to make this girl happy!
Did you know that there only live 2 people per square kilometre in Lapland? And that Ruka-Kuusamo has a national park called Oulanka that's 290 square kilometres big? Actually, Oulanka isn't the only national park in the region - it's just one of many but the biggest of them all.
No matter whether you'd like to hike the woods of Lapland in summer or marvel at the different types of snow in winter - going on a snowshoe hike in the forest or on a snowmobiling trip - you're going to love the region! And once you're there, definitely stop by the club of the big-shoe people for more stunning views, delicious food and a good night's sleep!
Isokenkäisten Klubi offers hotel rooms, as well as a guest house and cottages for groups.
CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF snow? WATCH MY latest lapland video FOR MORE OF THE GOOD STUFF!
How many types of snow do you know?
Tell me in a comment below!
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