Living at the Arctic Circle is quit interesting, especially on winter time. And I have to admit that for writing this post I had to put some special effort on finding the joys as well, but there really are some! 😉
The most hard part is that where ever, and HOW ever, you are going it always takes more time than on summer time and you always have to consider the weather:
By bike: If you have to be somewhere early and it have been snowing during the night you have to consider the fact that all the roads are not clean yet. Biking on ice and snow is not a problem when you have right tires, the problem is thick layers of deep snow or the prevails of snow which appear on each crosswalks and borders of the roads. And it goes without saying that the morning becomes much more painful if you had forgotten the bike outside during the night when it was snowing…
These bikes have been there more than one night 😉
By car: Oh my god, I could make only one post about having a car in Lapland! Even though it’s almost a necessity to have a car in here, having one in a cold climate where snow is more common than sunshine, can be very complicated as well. First, to avoid damaging the motor too much it is advised to heat the car by plugging it at least 2 hours before you plan to leave with it. This is advised every time when it’s colder than -5 C. Here it means most of the time between 1st of December and end of March. In most of the buildings and work places you can pay for this plug-spot for the winter time. The thing is that many of the spots are working with a timer nowadays (to save energy), so you have to remember to schedule the heating on – and this means that you have to know what time you are going to leave!
So heating the motor is one thing. Another thing is the snow and ice! Each time you are going to leave somewhere by car, add at least 5 extra minutes to your time for taking away the snow and ice from the car. If you have an old car, like we do, it gets warm more slowly than new cars, so also the window melts very slowly.
AND what I learned this winter! With old cars it might happen that if the night was very cold the locks are still stiff and might lock themselves meanwhile you are outside cleaning the car! This happened to me when I had already put the car on in order to get it warm inside, and all my keys were inside as well. A very teaching but not so nice experience!
On the worst days you have to brush the snow away even if you left the car for only 10 minutes!
By walk: Well, many times going by walk is easier than by bike or by car but takes more time. And what might be uncomfortable is that when it’s -20 degrees you have to be very well dressed for the day, but then during walking you get hot and sweaty!
2. Dressing up!
On the one hand it’s very easy to dress in Lapland because ski trousers and overalls for snowmobiling are the most fitting clothes for this climate – and the nice thing is that there’s no pressure about how you look like, because everybody wares similar kind of clothes the whole winter!
On the other hand, it is quit tiring to dress about 6 months of the year with many layers of clothes and wear heavy boots all the time. Usually after January I really start missing snickers and flipflops, and not to put a hat to hide my hear! I would also enjoy if I could sometimes dress a bit more nicely and lightly when I go out, but dressing up here like in Paris would just look very weird….
3. Everything is related to snow!
In general snow and cold affects the everyday life in a way that you might wake up on Sundays at 7 am because the snowplows are cleaning the fresh snow in front of your bedroom. Or when the heavy layers of snow start to fall from the roofs in the middle of the night and you just jump out of the bed thinking that the 3rd WW has started…!
An other thing that I find really hard here in Lapland is the darkness. I guess the locals who have been living here always, are more used to it and handle it better, but for me the fact that we don’t actually see sunlight between November and January, is hard. This year has been particularly hard, because the weather in general have been very cloudy, so even more dark and grey. When it’s dark you just have to keep on with daily routines, but also accept the fact that it’s okay to sleep a bit more than usually!
But then! When the sun finally comes back after mid January, everything changes! The days start to get longer and bright very fast and from February- March until August we have much more daylight than the rest of the World ;). And as long as there is snow, you can’t even imagine the amounts of light that we might have on sunny days! Sunglasses highly recommended in March! Then, even though you still have to dress warm and heat the car, you can also start to enjoy life by skiing, snowmobiling, ice-fishing, participating on reindeer races and all other crazy activities that are only possible when living at the Arctic Circle!
5. Plenty of places to heat yourself up
A positive thing is that even though it’s cold outside, it’s always warm inside. The buildings and houses are well heated in Finland – so well that sometimes it almost feels to warm in some apartments. Also, one of my favorite things in Finland is that you can find saunas almost everywhere to heat yourself even more! 🙂 Or when you go out in the nature there’s always publicly maintained fireplaces which anyone can use !
6. Landscapes ❤
Even though life sometimes feels quit hard in here, the landscapes and nature with the very special light of the North is quit amazing and unique, and I am very happy that I have gotten to experience it all during the last few years.