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finland

    Crafting, Europe

    Homemade travel journal. (SMASH/Scrapbook)

    As I have mentioned previously, I’ve been creating a travel journal to document my expedition to Finland. Well, it is finally complete (or near enough) and I have done a video to show you the pages. Yes, I have done a video! A little scary to be honest, but I’m afraid you’re only getting my voice…

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    Europe, Travel

    Matka – An expedition to Finland. Part #3.

    Part #1Part #2

    imageThe last bit of our expedition was very different to what we had imagined. Looking online, Rovaniemi looked lovely and interesting. In reality, it was just like any other city in England! I don’t know why I expected so much more haha.

    Due to the time that we went, the tourist trips were mostly shut. Too late for winter, too early for summer! After walking around on the first morning, we headed into tourist information and managed to book ourselves onto a snow shoeing tour. It was fun but not as difficult or ‘extreme’ as expected.

    The guide that we had was brilliant though, and told us so much information about the area, about Finland and his experiences growing up. He was entertaining and it was great to hear about his life. He also told us how he loved his job taking tourists out because it helped him with his languages.

    Rovaniemi was actually very warm, and had no snow – very different to the more Southern places we’d been! I figure it’s because it was a city. We drove out of the city about half an hour away and had knee deep snow in places when doing the snow shoeing.

    During this little trip we were given hot tea and chocolate to keep us warm, and this little bread thing which was kind of like a biscuit, but bread. I’m not really sure but it was crispy and tasted alright dipped in the chocolate!

    I’m glad we did this, but I also kind of wish we’d tried skiing!

    Rovaniemi itself had some really pretty parts, but also some not so nice parts. Just like any city, right? This river was huge, and parts were still frozen from the winter, and there were also chunks of ice just floating around! We saw one traditional Finnish restaurant in Rovaniemi, but it was just so expensive that we didn’t have the money for it.

    On our second day, we visited the Santa Village, as advised by the guide! It’s what most people come to Rovaniemi for… Due to the season, it was a little disappointing. The gift shops and buildings were lovely, but I guess the place just looks so much better in the winter and in the evening. I am glad that we went though, because otherwise I’d just be regretting it!

    One thing that I loved, and this was the same in Helsinki (airport!), was the packaging designs in the supermarkets! Everything for kids just looked so cute! I actually saved a couple of cartons/wrappers to put in my travel journal.

    Last but not least, Rovaniemi was covered in all kinds of cool graffiti. The images really helped to brighten up the area, and I loved seeing them. I’ll just let the photos do the talking…

    So, that was the end of our expedition. To get back to Kajaani for our flight, we had to get two trains and it was around a 5 hour journey. Not too fun, but with a good book and nice scenery it’s all fine! Here’s a wagtail seen at Kajaani station! It came so close – clearly used to people!

    Overall, the expedition was an amazing experience and I’m so happy to have had the chance! I would definitely visit Martinselkosen and the Boreal Wildlife Centre again. Lovely people, place and predators! Next time I’d maybe look at another place in the Arctic Circle – probably wouldn’t bother with Rovaniemi again! Although, Santa’s Village would be great in the winter. Hope you enjoyed looking at these photos!

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    Europe, Travel

    Matka – An expedition to Finland. Part #2.

    Part #1Part #3

    imageAfter visiting Martinselkosen Eräkeskus Wildlife Centre, we headed towards the Boreal Wildlife Centre. There was a two hour drive between the two, with this place being further South. This meant that there was less snow in the area and more green forest! It’s crazy how sort of isolated Finland felt. This two hour drive was literally down one big road with only trees surrounding each side. Occasionally there would be a building, but 90% of the drive was just trees. Oh and the occasional rabbit running down the side of the road.

    On the first day/night, we just explored the area a little and relaxed mostly. We were actually so tired that we went to bed quite early, and set an alarm for 11pm to get some night shots! I really wanted to do a timelapse but it just didn’t work out. I don’t have the right lens for it so anything I try just seems kind of lacking in some way ha.

    Anyway, this night was brilliant. There’s something quite eerie about being outside in the middle of the night, in a new country and with the knowledge of there being bears about. (Not anywhere in the immediate surroundings, of course!) We ended up seeing a tiny glimpse of the Northern Lights! It was only a bit of green in the sky (which was hardly visible to the eye but could be seen in camera) but it was so awesome. Green, purples and pinks… The sky was pretty!

    I definitely need to see them properly to really tick seeing the Northern Lights off a bucket list though. A visit to Iceland is top of the list!

    The next morning we did some more exploring. Walking in the woods and just taking in the beautiful scenery. I took so many tree photos here.

    Also managed to see and photograph a red squirrel and brambling. The red squirrel had funny colouring! Body mostly grey, white chest, red tail, red paws and red face/ears! It was cute though.

    After lunch (3pm in both of these centers) we headed out for our first night in the hide. This hide gave us a very wide an open view – a lot different from the trees and the swamp in the first place. We were waiting for 4-5 hours for the first bear to appear but, once one had arrived, two more quickly followed. There was one bear that had a white patch on it’s back and I think it looked awesome! Whilst we were waiting for the bears, we just had lots of ravens in sight.

    Now for the best bit… The morning of our second stay in the hide, we saw two wolves! Yes, wolves! We felt so lucky because the guide had told us that the wolves would constantly patrol their territory and as a result they would only pass through the hide area once every 7/8 days. They didn’t stay for very long, but I’m happy that I managed to get some photographs! It was an incredible sight.

    Phew, that was a long one, wasn’t it? Next Friday post up is Rovaniemi!

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    Europe, Travel

    Matka – An expedition to Finland. Part #1.

    Part #2Part #3

    Well I guess it’s time I started talking about my expedition to Finland, right? If you’re new or just passing by, you may be a little confused here. I’m in my second year of university (and it’s almost over!) and for one module I had to plan an expedition. Now this could be anywhere in the world, but due to finances, we chose Finland. I say that as if it isn’t an amazing place but it was, and is a brilliant country to visit. I’m really happy to have experienced the things that we did, and I would definitely go back! Just next time it would be cool to see the summer or the winter… The spring is a relatively quiet season, with not much happening for visitors! As you may have realised from the title, I’m going to do this in three posts.

    The journey from London to Helsinki was pretty uneventful. Once in Helsinki, we had a long 5 hours waiting time ahead of us as our next flight to Kajaani was in the evening. A lot of this time was spent wandering around the airport, trying to figure out the floor system and finding the supermarket and cheap food. We managed to find a pizza place (first meal in Finland was a cheese pizza – I know…) and then settled back down in front of our gate. The flight to Kajaani was also uneventful. It was a small plane, and when we arrived at Kajaani airport it was a little strange! The area where we picked up our bags was tiny. The airport only actually had one gate I think!

    Our first port of call was Martinselkosen Eräkeskus Wildlife Centre, located in Suomussalmi. We were picked up by the guide and another visitor, and then driven two hours up north. It was nearing midnight at this point, but we were looking out of the car windows, trying to stay awake, and managing to see a few Arctic hare on the journey as well as getting a tiny glimpse of green in the sky! It just felt so surreal.

    The place itself was really pretty, and I took a lot of snowy tree photos! On the first day we managed to explore a little before heading out to the big hide. The area in which we were staying was very deserted – no houses around and lots of forest. On site, we saw plenty of bullfinch, chaffinch and tits, as well as a few woodpeckers and a red squirrel. We also spotted some big paw prints on our walks, but obviously no sights of the bears during the day ;)

    I have never seen so many Bullfinch in one place!

    How cute is this little cabin?!

    To get to the hide we went in a 4×4, and then on a snow mobile ‘sleigh’ for the final bit. I’m not going to lie, that bit scared me! First impressions of the hide were that it was huge! I knew it had bunk beds in, but it really was huge. We had been inside the hide for less than 5 minutes, and the guides were still putting food outside, when the first bear turned up. It was ridiculously easy this night… Overall we saw four different bears and even managed to see them all at once. It was incredible, and as I said, super easy. It kind of felt too easy…

    I really loved all the forest around us.

    The second day was also spent exploring. We managed to find a really pretty river, which looked very strange against all the white snow. In the evening, we went into another hide for a night! This hide was a lot smaller, and was meant for two people. We had three of us squeezed into it! Fine for the evening, but sleeping was something else! We were very squished and had extremely sore hips the next morning… Anyway, this time we were waiting for at least 4 hours before we got our first bear sighting! Very different to the first day’s experience, right? We also saw four bears on this night, and I’m guessing that they were the same ones from the first night – we were actually only a few hundred metres away.

    Mr Photogenic again ;)

    That was our time at Martinselkosen Eräkeskus! The next part will show our time at the Boreal Wildlife Centre and I will post it next Friday!

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    My Week

    My Week #17 & #18

    Well, two weeks behind… Oh dear! I have been very busy. The first week shows my last 7 days in Finland, and the week just past was busy with hopeless attempts at revising for my upcoming Animal Behaviour exam. I have discovered that if there’s a question on function, I may be half okay…

    Last Monday I got to see McBusted in concert and they were amazing! It was such a fun show and I loved all the AV that they did. Always love seeing Mcfly live!

    Last week also gave me my first LUSH party experience! It was really good, and I definitely loved having a face mask on whilst getting my hands/arms massaged! I bought myself the face mask that I tried on (Love Lettuce), as well as the Ultrabland cleanser and ‘Stimulating and refreshing’ hair shampoo bar. The latter claims that it will help hair growth. My hair grows at an okay speed anyway – I was just drawn in by the cinnamon and the fact that I had never tried on before!

    And finally, I also did some extra work (including today) which proves to be a great way of procrastinating from exam revision… I like to get as much extra money as I can hahah.

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    Filofax

    Keeping organised on travels!

    Well, as you may have read/seen online, I am heading off to Finland! This trip is a university self-led expedition, and I’m going with two others in my group. Our aim of the trip is to see and photograph/film bears. However, I’m also hoping to see lots of other wildlife, get some nice landscapes/starscapes and some timelapse videos! The second half (or ‘alf – as I said in my expectations video!) will take us up to Rovaniemi, which is just on the edge of the Arctic Circle. It’s not very likely mid-April, but I am kind of hoping to see the Northern Lights! Let’s hope they’re feeling generous ;)

    Right now, I am making my way down to London, ready for the early flight on Wednesday morning!

    Anyway, over the past 6 months or so I’ve been using a pocket mode Filofax to plan this expedition, and it will be coming with me! (Thanks to Janet @ This Bugs Life! – The Filofax Project)

    One of the main tabs in the filofax will of course be the ‘important’ tab. Here I’m writing down things like my passport info, insurance info, emergency contacts and the like… Just in case!

    Under my travel tab I have written down every step of my travel. So I have all the times, the places I’m going and the places I will be next… I feel so much more comfortable travelling when I can look at something and see all the times at a glance! On the other side of this page has the travel information for when I’m actually in Finland.

    The itinerary section has a piece of notepaper with the general plans, and behind the empty timetable I also have some WO2P diary pages so I can write what we’re doing each day.

    And finally, I have my passport in the pocket, my train tickets to London and also have my EHIC card in the plastic wallet on the left!

    All organised with the important information all written down… I think I’m ready!

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