New Years Eve day dawned (at about 10am), bright and crystal clear and a slightly chilly -14 degrees. It was so lovely so see the daylight. Although it’s light, I am told that the sun never really comes above the horizon at this time of year, but it has a beautiful twilight type glow.
We had a lovely breakfast and then made our way to Our first activity.
It has really great health benefits – honestly!
We made our way down to the smoke sauna, where the intention is to sit in the sauna and then run out in the snow and plunge into a hole that is cut in the frozen river. Apparently it has great health benefits.
Andrew was full of cold, so decided to be official photographer. The rest of us egged each other on to be brave enough to have a go.
We got changed in a draughty wooden hut and then went into the sauna. It was so dark it took a while for your eyes to accustom, but once they did it was fine.
After sitting in the sauna, we then bravely ran to the river, wearing swimwear, hats and socks. I was first to dip in but wasn’t brave enough to go all the way in. Running back up to the sauna in wet socks was an experience as ice cubes form underneath as you run. Nick and Julie both managed a full plunge and back into the sauna. Once back in, we were grave enough to give it another go and this time I managed the full dip.
It was a really invigorating experience. You would expect that coming out of a sauna into the cold would feel horrendous, but you are so warm that it takes a while for your body to feel the cold. As you dip in the pool it numbs your body, but you feel so lively and awake once you get back in the sauna. Afterwards your skin really tingles and glows. I would definitely recommend it if you are brave enough to try.
A cosy afternoon
After a warm shower and a change of clothes we went for a short walk around the hotel grounds before going for lunch. As the sun started to set, the sky began to glow a beautiful red. By 2pm it was almost dark again and we spent the afternoon keeping cosy by the fire.
My first experience of snow mobiling
Our late evening activity was an aurora hunt on a snow mobile. After putting on an extra couple of layers of clothing and donning the new correctly fitting snowsuit, we set off for our instructions in driving a snow mobile. Needless to say I chose not to drive and decided to sit on the back whilst Andrew drove.
It was pitch dark driving through the forest and icy cold. The guide said that it was probably about -22 degrees as the temperature in the nearest tow, Saariselka was -12 and it can be up to 10 degrees colder in muotka.
Through the headlights you could see the snow glistening on the ground and when we came to a clearing and turned the engines off, there was no sound at all. The sky was amazingly clear and the stars were vivid in the sky.
The guide lit a fire and boiled up a kettle of hot water, then made everyone a cup of hot chocolate. It was then back on the snow mobiles to the hotel, in time for the New Year celebrations.
A New Years Eve to remember
Back at the hotel, there was a glass of bubbly for everyone and a buffet of snacks. At just before midnight we all went outside, where there was a firework display. After wishing everyone a Happy New Year, it was back inside to warm up.
Just short of an hour later, one of the staff members wanted us all to share in a Spanish New Year tradition and gave us all a cup with 12 grapes in. At midnight Spanish time, we then all had to eat a grape at each chime. This is supposed to bring you look for the next year. I managed to eat the first few, but then ended up putting them in my mouth and not chewing them quickly, so looked a bit like a squirrel storing food for the winter.
At this point we decided that we could probably spend the next few hours celebrating New Year for every nationality in the hotel, but decided to call it a day at 2am, when it was New Year in England.
Definitely a different way to celebrate New Year and one to remember!