WHAT IS HYGGE AND WHERE CAN YOU FIND IT
So what is Hygge in say 600 or so words??
Having been to Denmark more than a dozen or so times the first thing to say is I'd never heard of it until we began importing it (perhaps after Brexit it will be subject to a tarrif!). It' can't be translated but I've felt , eaten , touched and smelt it. But like 'Englishness' it slips all over the place and falls apart when you try to define it. It's a verb and a noun. It can be a moment or a place. But like lots of things t the version we import is erstaz; not the real thing.
You can feel it in a Sarah Lund sweater, eat it in a Kro in the middle of Jutland, touch it in a damp beechwood forest alongside the coastline of Zealand and and smell it in a sauna. You might find it huddled on the beach amongst the soft white dunes of the Danish Riviera, alongside the lanky Giacometti figures at Louisiana looking across the Kattegat or having a coffee at the Central Hotel og Café. You won't find it in a book or in a shop. Like Zen enlightenment the very act of consciously looking for it means you won't find it.
Is it exclusive to Denmark? Author of How to Hygge Norwegian American cookery writer Signe Johansen clearly thinks not, but since Norway was in union with Denmark until the Danes blew it by throwing their lot in with Napolean she probably has cause. Louisa Thomsen Brits author and blogger [http://hygge.co/] on Hygge can you believe is half Danish half Englsh and thinks it's found in the mind.
Is it a foodie thing? Bronte Aurell co owner of the epic ScandiKitchen Cafe [www.scandikitchen.co.uk/ ] just north of London's Soho pins Hygge says so in her book Fika & Hygge. (I think Fika must get in there on account of her Swedish husband). Danish cookery writer, restrateur and all round Danish Super Woman Trine Hahnemann[ trinehahnemann.com/] in Embracing the Art of Hygge similarly sticks food at the front of what Hygge is all about.
What about candles and socks both of which seem central to it? I think that gives you a clue. Scented candles and ribbed socks seem emblematic of quite, calm, comforting moments. As do open hearth fires, dark sooty coffee, weight gaining cakes, the end of the day, oak beams, thatched roofs and all the other iconic 'stop the world i want to get off' icons.
Me I think Hygge defies definition. Just take a trip to Denmark [www.scanadventures.co.uk/holidays-in-denmark] and smell, touch and feel it.
HOW THE BLUE LAGOON BECAME ICELAND'S SIGNATURE ATTRACTION
Just a few minutes along the Reyjkanesbraut leading into Reykjavik from Iceland’s Keflavik International airport you glimpse to your right a trio of stainless steel cooling towers disgorging cumulus white plumes which disassemble and drift with the wind across the surrounding moss clad lava fields. These mark the Svartsengi power station which once people passed by without a thought, just as they still do the Alcan smelting plant a few miles down the road! But today people in their too many thousands turn off at the Bláa lónið signpost leading to Svartsengi where its effluent lake has become one of Iceland’s ‘must see’ attractions.
A power station being hardly a prototypical design for a tourist attraction,and an effluent lake not being the first thing you’d thinking of bathing in[albeit turquoise blue] , how did this get to be? Svartsengi [Black Meadow in old Norse] after all is nothing more than a bore hole in a lava field funneling hot underground sea water to its turbines and heat exchangers for the locals to enjoy the cheapest power in the world. But on the way up the bore hole the sea water absorbs a mysterious cocktail of minerals and silica which is still there in the effluent lake by the side of the plant.
The silica refracts the light rendering the lakes’ water a translucent turquoise and the minerals have medicinal qualities which, back in the fifties, encouraged an employee of the day with a dry skin complaint to bathe in the lake after work. Apocryphal man and story or not, his after work habit caught on and others joined him, attracted by the soporific warmth of the turquoise water contrasted against the surrounding black lava and the exfoliating quality on the skin of the silica mud which lies on the bed of the lake. Down the years travelers started stopping off to join the locals and a changing room with showers appeared, presumably on the assumption that travelers were more inhibited than Icelanders. The silica mud was bottled for sale and an enterprising Icelandic ad man re-branded the effluent lake Bláa lónið or Blue Lagoon [ www.bluelagoon.com/ ] .
Along came a restaurant, a souvenir shop [of course], branded cosmetics, spa treatments, conference centre and all the accoutrements of a modern tourist spot. Tourist attractions are born and grow like that. A simple, idiosyncratic, local practice is transmuted into something that’s a parody of what it once was. You can bathe in the Blue Lagoon on the way in or out of Reykjavik or, if you’re not keen on parody, elsewhere on the island in geothermal solitude just like the Svartsengi employee back when.
WHERE, WHEN & HOW TO SEE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM
Anywhere within a 10 degree latitudinal arc along the Arctic Circle. During geomagnetic storms this arc of visibility expands further South (sometimes as far as Bradford) but you might want to think twice about spending a weekend there! Arctic Norway, Sweden, Finnish Lapland and Iceland are all better bets with good ‘hot spots’ away from light pollution from which to see them at their best. Tromso in Norway and Iceland’s Reykjavik make for an urban city break with all sorts of edgy snow safaris and safari excursions. In Sweden & Finnish Lapland we work with artisan suppliers who mush huskies, snowmobile and drive reindeer sleds in wilderness terrain above which you can keep a look out for the Northern Lights. Bear in mind that visibility is dependent on cloud cover, so any auguries provided by lunar charts, long term isobar charts, moon phase or sun spot activity are all at the mercy of local weather conditions. Take a look at http://www.scanadventures.co.uk/northern-lights-tours to get the whole pictures.
WHEN YOU CAN SEE THEM
Between the Autumn and Spring equinoxes under a cloudless sky and during the dark Arctic Winter nights when the comparatively weak light emitted by the Aurora is more easily seen. Shows are usually quite quick, perhaps no more than 15 minutes or so, and most active between 5 in the evening and 2 in the morning. Most of our untours are designed with day time snow or ice based adventure and sightseeing safaris including snowmobiling, husky mushing, reindeer sledding and ice fishing. Since the Arctic winter proper doesn’t start until the snow falls and settles permanently from late November/December so our Northern Lights untours start around then. The ICEHOTEL, Snow and Igloo Hotels aren’t ready until early/mid December.So for Aurora spotting, anytime from early December is good for Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish Lapland and January onwards for’sleeping in ice’.
WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE
From outer space like emerald green halos circumscribing both magnetic poles but from the earth’s surface variously like shards of spectrum coloured light jaggedly pointing down from the sky, trailing ribbons of green light in a pathway to a single point on the horizon, swirling concentric circles or like ribboned drapes hanging from an invisible curtain rod above the stars. They can creep up slowly from the horizon like skeletal claws or dance across the night sky at, literally of course, the speed of light. Sometimes they open like time lapse flower photography and at others flutter like an ensign in the wind or pile up as if in the hands of a cosmic juggler. Most commonly visible colours are blue or green at altitudes between 100km to 200km, red above that and crimson lower down.
WHAT CAUSES THEM
Unless you’re an astrophysicist, cast your mind back to the school lab and the iron filings experiment to show up a magnetic field. Now think of the sun bombarding the earth with something called ions (which if you like are akin to invisible iron filings) that hit the earth’s magnetic field and follow it down to the earth’s poles. Some of these penetrate the upper atmosphere colliding with oxygen and nitrogen atoms which are literally ‘excited’ at being bashed into. Oxygen atoms glow red at high altitudes and green lower down in the atmosphere.Nitrogen ones also glow green at mid altitudes but blue the higher up they are and crimson lower down.
MYVATN'S UNDERGROUND BAKERY
Mrs Odinsson thought the search pointless; she'd had the bread with some lamb soup at Gamli Baer, pronounced it superb but had no interest in its provenance. And was even less fascinated by that supposedly being an underground bakery. Things had got to the point where her indulgence was beginning to wear thin not least because she thought a visit to the Myvatn Nature Baths likely more rewarding.
Just as I was beginning to think about whose displeasure I was going to incur most there was an excited command from the back seat; ‘Drive over there Dad’. I swing the car off the road and headed towards a small huddle of women whom No 2 son was convinced would know the bakery’s whereabouts.
I parked the car and we all walked towards the women who spanned 3 generations. They were standing around several dustbin lids covering holes lined with washing machine drums into which they were loading milk cartons. These were, we learnt, filled with rye mash and molasses and left inside the drums whose mesh allowed geo-thermal steam to vent around the cartons. No 2 son had not only found Myvatn’s only underground bakery but also its management .
On our North & South Adventure holiday http://www.scanadventures.co.uk/holidays-in-iceland/iceland-north-south we’ll show you where the bakery is for yourself and more to the point where to enjoy the dark, sweet rye bread it produces. It's what we mean by ‘Your adventure Our Experience’.
Odinsson 2 is the nom de plume of our MD
FATHER CHRISTMAS, PETER PAN & LAPLAND!!
There are lots of flights to somewhere near his home at Korvatunturi in Finnish Lapland; numerous companies to travel with, umpteen lengths of stay to choose from and any number of ‘Real Lapland’ experiences. The question is do you want to enjoy it too? Do you want a Thorpe Park or a Royal Shakespeare Company time? We may not have a Frederick Ashton on our books and I’m no J M Barrie but we know how to stage a play that you’ll enjoy as much as your children [or grandchildren for that matter]. We set the scene in family owned places that play out traditional Lutheran customs in a commercially unsullied way.
We take blocks of seats on scheduled flights rather than charter a whole plane load so we can take small groups of like minded people. We arrange the story we have to tell over two or three days with relaxing intervals. We take you with your children to see Father Christmas in the forest and also arrange for him to come and visit you. Our reindeer herders are genuine Sami ones rather than people dressed up for the occasion; our huskies live in kennels where they were born and our snowmobiles 4 stroke turbo charged ones with comfort rear suspension. [If the latter description leaves you cold it means you can enjoy a ride without your coccyx being jammed up your throat].
It’s the difference between an RSC experience and a Thorpe Park one. We call them UnTours - we think you’ll enjoy ours as much as your children http://www.scanadventures.co.uk/holidays-in-lapland/father-christmas-adventures
LAPLAND'S GLASS IGLOOS
Perched on a fell top with gob smacking views over endless miles of forest Golden Crown igloos are a cut above the ordinary. Each comes with a radio/CD player, hair dryer, motorised double bed (convertible in to twins), bathrobe & slippers and shower/WC. All the windows and ceilings are insulated and electrically heated to prevent them from frosting up. Top notch with 23m2 of space. Self styled 'premium igloos' have front row stall positions with gob smacking views over the adjacent fjells and a stay here can be luxed up with lodgings at the Northern Lights Luxury House. Here's how you can make a stay here an adventure: http://www.scanadventures.co.uk/holidays-in-finland-lapland/igloo-nights-levi
A cut above the average laavu, the tripodal tent used by the migratory Sami, Luosto's glass laavu's (so alright not strictly an igloo if you're a geometric pedant) come toastily heated with all mod cons. Comparable in styling & comfort to the hotel's rooms proper each comes with its own shower/WC, entrance hallway, wrap round privacy curtains, double bed and glazed walls & ceiling. Probably (for the moment) the luxiest way to see the Northern Lights; just by gazing up at the night sky. Accompanied by nights in The Aurora Hotel where all the rooms face North so if you miss the Aurora then you only have yourself to blame.Here's how you can make a stay here an adventure: http://www.scanadventures.co.uk/holidays-in-finland-lapland/aurora-nights-luosto
The original glass igloos in Kakslauttanen's East Village, along with newer larger ones in the West Village, are testimony to owner Jussi Eiramo's obsession with detail. All are built with a thermal glass domed ceiling that insulates the interior to keep it warm and whose frost preventative element maintains crystal clear panoramic views even with outside temperatures as low as minus 30c. The smaller ones which are tiny, tiny have twin beds, hanging locker and a WC/hand basin, whilst larger ones at 32sqm have 4 single beds, shower and WC. Of course, if you are opposed to all this genuflection to modernity and want to go for the real thing, there are also snow igloos which maintain an inside temperature of between minus 3 and 6 degrees Celsius, and in which you bury yourself in a thermal sleeping bag for the night. Here's how you can get the best out of a stay here http://www.scanadventures.co.uk/holidays-in-lapland/igloo-nights-kakslauttanen
26 kms North of the Arctic Circle SnowHotel & Glass Igloos are located. In the hotel, you can accommodate in snowroom or glass igloo. Kota tepee, log restaurant and ice restaurant will take care of your hunger or thirst. You can also try traditional Finnish sauna meanwhile your stay as well as other arctic activities such snow sculpting or ice fishing. Friendly staff will take care of you during the whole stay by waking up with a warm drink or even if you wish, also in the middle of night, if the Northern Lights would appear and give the fabulous show up in the sky. http://www.scanadventures.co.uk/holidays-in-lapland/arctic-experience-rovaniemi
Not so much an igloo as a bubble (which is what owners Jouko & Mari Lappalainen call them) Nellim's bubbles are nothing more than a perspex domed roof on top of a cabin. Rudimentarily furnished with wood cladded walls, a hanging locker/porch and compost loo they're simple in every sense of the word but a pretty good way of staying away from light pollution and not missing a flash of the Aurora however fleeting. Worry not if this all seems a bit too rustic; we keep a hotel room available for you so there is somewhere for you to shower in the morning.
If a bubble sounds a bit too rustic then Jokuo has recently built a handful of Aurora Cottages, altogether more luxurious affairs resembling a log cabin with a glass mansard roof. Built out of deadwood pine with open fires and furnished by Mari these are the real Mcoy. This is how w ebuild an Adventure around a stay here http://www.scanadventures.co.uk/holidays-in-lapland/aurora-adventures-nellim
10 THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT RANDERS
It's perfect for a short break: a Town and Country picture postcard sort of place. The town bit being all winding cobbled streets, half-timbered houses, crow stepped gables, clay roof tiles and statues of imperious looking long forgotten Vikings. The Country bit all rolling meadow land peppered with beech forests. Alongside the Randersfjord you can get up close and personal with eerily encanting reed banks; take a dinghy out and watch the day go by, fish for herring, whitefish and cod: or literally just wade into the water.
The place to stay is the newly and nearly refurbished Hotel Randers although when I say refurbished I really mean re-built, the place having gone up in smoke last year much helped by the 150 year old wattle and daub walls being like tinder. It oozes history with murals in the public areas and an eclectic mix of fabrics and furnishings. (Victor Borge* played the piano there before WW2 and 'his' piano is still there). My stay was truly surreal because of the meticulous way in which the workmen disappeared with their tools at the end of the day and reappeared in the morning: literally like going to bed in a hotel and waking up in a building site!! http://hotelranders.dk/en/
Aound and about there are several places where you can eat food to die for and which give Noma a run for its money. In Laurbjerg half way between Aarhus and Randers is Fru Larsen where husband and wife chef team Tommy Friis and Birgitte Pedersen knock out superb grub. Fladbro Kro sits either side of a road in the sort of position where in this country you'd find a Little Chef but that's where the similarity ends: I had lunch there but can't remember a thing I ate other than it was all epic. On my first night I had dinner at the Randers Hotel's Cafe Mathisen courtesy of Hotel Manager Sven Eskildsen which was similarly epic.
Idiosyncratically one of the area's growing attractions is a replica of Elvis' Gracelands Mansion. It's stuffed full of Presley memorabilia and surrounded by Bose speakers filling the air with the sound of Blue Suede Shoes & Heartbreak Hotel. In any other country one suspects the owner Henrik Knudsen would be sectioned but Denmark just seems to let people do their own thing!!
Similarly idiosyncratic but without any foriegn appropriation is former schoolmaster Jens Skovgaard's Cold Hand Winery. Jens developed a thing about apples, apple trees and orchards and has morphed himself into a vintner. A brilliant raconteur he tells his own story: how he stumbled on a technique for freezing concentrate by accident; how he linked up with a man on Funen who was the apple king of the island and why he refuses to call his products cider!! He's shortly to open a restaurant which has to be as good as his wine. www.coldhandwinery.dk/en/
Not at all idiosyncratic is Clausholm Slot, a baroque moated castle surrounded by a couple of thousand acres of farmland. You can Wiki all the detail of its restoration and so on but the story of Frederick IV's abduction of his young Queen Anna Sophie and some Henry the 8th like sex and rock n'roll is better than Poldark. Whilst there I ran into current owner Berit Førland Berner who, whilst perfectly charming, gave off an aristocratic sense of looking at me as though I was a trespasser. www.clausholm.dk/
There's tons to do for culture vultures and next year nearby Aarhus will be a European Capital of Culture so whatever time you go there'll be something going on. I went to the ARoS Aarhus Art Museum floating above the roof of which is a circular walkway called Your Rainbow Panorama by Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson who is apparently world famous (I don't know about these things). At the other end of the building i.e. the basement, there are several rooms devoted to video art and installations and then in between top and bottom a concuopia of art from 18th century stuff through to pieces of incomprehensible modernism!! www.aarhus2017.dk/en/programme/
Lastly but not really leastly there's Den Gamle By in Aarhus a 'Back to the Future' open air museum where you can wander from decade to decade amongst streets and buildings painstakingly restored to replicate their era. It sounds a bit hokey but really isn't. www.dengamleby.dk
And for the 10th thing watch this space for special things to do and ways to do them. www.scanadventures.co.uk/holidays-in-denmark
*If you're under a hundred you might not have heard of Victor Borg but you can check him out on You Tube. He's one of the funniest men ever to have been.
**Odinsson 2 travelled to Randers courtesy of the Danish Tourist Board. In the manner of an Oscar acceptance speech there are many who made the trip fun and informative but a special thanks to Ninna for putting up with him.
*** Odinsson 2 is the pseudonym of Ian Woolgar the ScanAdventures 1st Team Coach. Opinions are his own and not neccessarliy endorsed by our Travel Designers.
NORTHERN LIGHTS DIRECT FROM GATWICK
This coming winter (2017/18) there'll be a positive plethora of direct flights to Finnish Lapland from London Gatwick operated by Finnair & Norwegian. Finnair are flying twice weekly to Ivalo from where we will whisk you to Kakslauttanen, Nellim, Kiilopää, Menesjarvi and Norwegian to Rovaniemi where can grown ups can chill out and husky safari at Beana Laponia and families can have some adventure fun at the Arctic Snow Hotel.
All of this means that for the first time the Northern Lights in Lapland are just 3 1/2 hours flying time away by scheduled airline. You'll be able to spend a 3 night weekend searching for them each evening whilst trying out snowmobiling, husky mushing or reindeer sledding during the day. Or you can multiple your chances of seeing them by taking the better part of a week off flying out on a Monday and back on Friday.
We busily re-designing many of our holidays using these and for straters our holiday in Luosto "http://www.scanadventures.co.uk/holidays-in-finland-lapland/aurora-nights-luosto"
There's more coming so keep a look out.
HOW THE NORTHERN LIGHTS SENT ONE MAN MAD
Galileo first used the term boreal aurora (later changed to Aurora Borealis) after Aurora, the Roman goddess of dawn; but it was a Norwegian scientist Kristian Birkeland who set out to achieve what many before had tried and failed: to solve the mystery of the Northern Lights. To Birkeland, the Lights represented the threshold between the visible and invisible worlds; the link between the planet and the mysterious forces that shaped the universe. However in the late 19th Century the prevailing belief was centred on Aristotle’s assertion that there could be no interaction between the heavens and the Earth because the heavens were perfect and unchanging. This resolute popular conviction created a difficult climate for Birkeland’s propositions. In the winter of 1899 Birkeland spent five months isolated in a mountain-top observatory at Kaafjord in the far north of Norway, a position known as having the most sightings of the Lights. Eventually he discovered that the force disturbing the magnetic field came directly from the sun in narrow, high-velocity beams of negatively charged particles (electrons) called cathode rays. Sometimes these active particles hit the magnetic field of the Earth and followed the field lines down towards the poles, where they struck atoms in the atmosphere. The energy created by the collisions was emitted as light. The lights only appeared during magnetic storms because the cathode rays from the sun were moving beams of electrons, creating electric currents that, in turn, made their own magnetic fields. Birkeland’s conclusions were published in 1901 and Norwegian newspaper headlines trumpeted, “Riddle of the Aurora solved!” However the international scientific community was not so impressed. Britain was the global leader in science and would not shift from her resolute opinion that space was an empty vacuum.
Birkeland’s findings were rejected. He was bitterly disappointed but even more determined to prove his theory The Norwegian government refused him any more funding, so he had to raise the money himself. This he did through the invention of a fertilizer (of which there was a chronic global shortage at the time) using electromagnetic furnace technology. Birkeland continued his fanatical study of the Lights over the following years and in 1908 published his monumental work, “The Norwegian Aurora Polaris Expedition 1902-1903” describing his second, bigger expedition to the far north. But again the scientific community was disparaging of his ideas and he suffered another major blow. Gradually over the five years following this second disappointment, his life began to crumble.
His work was overshadowed by other scientific developments at the time, such as Einstein’s theory of relativity and Bohr’s model of the atom. His obsessional relationship with his work drove his wife to leave him. He was also growing increasingly dependent on alcohol and the sedative veronal, and his health began to deteriorate. He spent his final years in Egypt studying the Zodiacal Light. A combination of insomnia, whisky and veronal fuelled chronic paranoia. He became convinced that with the outbreak of war, one of his inventions, the electromagnetic cannon, placed him in danger. He kept the copies of his patent in a specially installed safe in his room, bought two guard dogs and three guns and sacked his servants as he was convinced were plotting against him. On the 16th June 1919, aged just 49, Kristian Birkeland was found dead in a hotel room. The post-mortem revealed him to have taken 10g of veronal the night of his death, instead of the 0.5g recommended dose.
For 50 years after his death, Birkeland’s reputation sank into oblivion. In 1970 space satellites found incontrovertible evidence of a flow of electric particles from the sun. This proved that “empty space” was actually not empty at all, but filled with electrified gas, which then forms “solar wind”, which Birkeland had identified more than 60 years earlier. Today he is credited as the first scientist to propose an essentially correct explanation of the Aurora Borealis.
EPIC THINGS TO DO IN REYKJAVIK (1 of a 100)
Until last month I’d never flown in a helicopter; a couple of flights in a Cessna (one of which was over Vatnajokull) yes; but anywhere in a chopper no. So when Helo's boss lady Herdís Anna (Þorvaldsdóttir) and pilot Gunnþór (Sigurgeirsson) suggested I might like an evening whirl in their new Bell 407 I had to think about it for all of 3 seconds.
I had no idea what a Bell 407 was other than when I first saw it at Reykjavik's domestic airport it didn’t look like an Apache Longbow!! Importantly though what Helo's version has is specially modified oversized floor to ceiling windows through which you get the best views of Iceland to be had. And Bose headphones to muffle the external noise while you're looking at them.
We flew out over Pingvellir and the Mid Atlantic Ridge to Hengill, a geothermal thermal plateu with hot springs and fumaroles. We touched down on top of a volcano, marked our intrepidity with a glass of champagne and just stood gob smacked at the scene: steam leaking from the ground; melt water streams trickling over it and all against a backdrop of snow capped mountains. And when we left Gunnþór did a sort of arial back flip down the side of the mountain just for a bit of fun
Everybody running the company and the pilot oozes Icelandic charm matched with effortless efficiency and the pre-flight safety briefing was delivered simply and assuringly. What can one add – this is the thing to do and these are the people to do it with. If you want to try it yourself take a look at www.scanadventures.co.uk/holidays-in-iceland/reykjavik-brief-encounters.
GLASS IGLOOS AND BEYOND
On top of which there are now variations on the theme in the form of what are called Aurora Cabins; log cabins with glazed roofs or walls that have much the same thing going for them, i.e. the chance of seeing the Northern Lights whilst snuggled up in bed. The latest of these are just outside Rovaniemi, are really luxe inside with fantabulous views out over the forest and hidden gallery beds for children.
And they're spreading. Beyond Finnish Lapland in Norway at the apex of the Scandinavian Peninsula where it touches Russia the Kirkenes Snow Hotel has installed ones designed in Switzerland (sic). In Sweden the ICEHOTEL has Kaamos rooms with corner floor to ceiling windows by which you can sit in heated comfort with forest views and a chance to see the Northern Lights. Iceland hasn't quite got there yet but a couple of inventive locals are developing a sort of heated glamping contraption which can be moved from place to place about which we'll keep you posted. In the meantime there's always the lounge bar at the epic Hotel Ion with its floor to ceiling windows.
So if you're thinking of a night in an igloo as part of a Northern Lights holiday remember not all igloos are the same, or in the same place. Some are like luxury hotel rooms with a glass roof over the bed and others more rudimentary: more or less as simple as snow igloos but with a loo. Where they are is also just as important as what they are: you can have anything from a night in the remote wilderness and acquired bragging rights or somewhere with more creature comforts.
ICEHOTEL NOW OPEN ALL YEAR ROUND
The rest is history, with Sweden's ICEHOTEL becoming an iconic destination focused around ice art and Sami culture. For every one of the last 25 winters the ICEHOTEL transformed the tundra landscape around Jukkasjärvi 200 miles North of the Arctic Circle with magnificent ice structures, sculptures, ice furniture, glasses & plates (sic), a consecrated church, exotic bedrooms and ICE ART suites.
But, for every one of the past 25 springs, when the weather turned warm, the exhibit and the hotel melted back down into the River Tjorn from where it came. But Ingve is a restless soul and he's now pioneered permanent solar-powered ice suites available year-round; 'rooms for all seasons' if you like. So when the Sun rises above the horizon the hotel, and all that Ice Art, no longer disappears.
THE 5 HIDDEN SECRETS OF SWEDEN'S ICEHOTEL
NEW GEOCACHING ADVENTURES IN LAPLAND
The writer, Annika Selander, is Finn-Guild’s media intern, who has climbed trees, acted in incredibly suspicious ways in public and turned a 1,5-hour drive into four hours for the sake of geocaching.
THE DOWNARDS, ICELAND'S BLACK SAND BEACHES & A PLANE CRASH
Today, shorn of its wings and tail section, the plane makes a surreal sight in the middle of the black moraine desert, even more so in winter with the Northern Lights overhead. On our Road Trip 'Waterfallls, Glaciers & Geysers' you can detour up the glacier just past Skógafoss on Route 1. Cross a bridge with blinking yellow lights and an access road to Sólheimajökull Glacier on the left. Drive East for about 2 km keeping an eye open for a dirt road turnoff and gate to your right. From there the 'road' is marked with yellow withies but don't believe the idiots who tell you you don't need a 4x4 - you do. Its become the Iceland selfie to have, as the Downard Boys show here. You can yours on many of our Road Trips including http://www.scanadventures.co.uk/holidays-in-iceland/highlights-of-south-iceland
THE PLACES & PEOPLE OF THE VESTERALEN ARCHIPELAGO
At Ringstad Sjohus, Ian takes you out in a high speed rib to spot for white tailed eagles whilst Ann Karina turns out some of the best fish soup on the planet. Laila Inga multi tasks as a reindeer herder, mother and Sami chanteuse whose Joiks give Sofia Jannock a run for her money. Bjorn Utsol has been a contestant in the Finnmarkslopet so may times he's lost count but never loses count of his beloved dogs. In Sortland there's Harald, patron and owner of the wonderfully retro Sortland Hotel; Greta and Espen who look after you from the moment you arrive to the day you leave. Meet some or all of them this winter.
THE ICELANDIC HORSE
WHEN IS AN IGLOO NOT AN IGLOO
THE REINDEER MAN
THE BLONDE DOG WHISPERER
HOTEL REYKJAVIK NATURA. WHAT'S NOT TO LIKE
So taken with the place was Odisnnson2 that he cajoled them into giving us some very special prices for this summer which we’ve matched up with some equally special fares from WOW. And if you haven’t flown with them before, you’ll find yourself using their name as interjection, verb and noun: you’ll go ‘WOW’, they will WOW you and their in flight act is a WOW. And then when you’re there you’re spoilt for choice about what to: whale watching, northern lights spotting, travel the Golden Circle, bathe in the Blue Lagoon, etc, etc, etc. Read the low down at http://www.scanadventures.co.uk/holidays-in-iceland/reykjavik-brief-encounters
HOW TO EAT GAUCHO STYLE IN REKYJAVIK
The Gaucho twist isn’t overdone and is confined to the food rather than the decor or waiting staff’s clothing. In truth it’s commendably subtle to the point of invisibility: my memory was of fish lightly done rather than steak torn apart with a Facon. Its right by the old harbour so perfect for dinner after some whale watching in Faxafloi Bay or before spotting the Northern Lights from the deck of the Rosen. We include 20 % OFF vouchers with virtually all our www.scanadventures.co.uk/holidays-in-iceland
WHY SMOKERS HAVE A BETTER CHANCE OF SEEING THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
If you have Alan Turing like capabilities you can work out the best time to go; stay somewhere for 3 weeks minimum whilst staring all the while up at the sky from around six in the evening until two in the morning and wait.[Have a read of our post on Kristian Birkeland]. Alternatively you can talk to us about what kind of holiday you’ll enjoy: urban city break; remote wilderness get away; hardcore adventure trip; soft core safaris by snowmobile, husky or reindeer and what country you’d like to see and leave your chances of seeing the aurora to the Gods.
Just give us a call and we’ll tell you all about the best places to have the most fun in and those which give you the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights [whether you're a smoker or not]. This Winter we can whisk you direct to Finnish Lapland for the first time; take you into Iceland’s Porsmork valley as far from urban lighting as man can get; introduce you to Husky Musher Tinja Myllykangas the ‘dog whisperer’ or Nils Torbjorn Nutti, a Sami reindeer herder. Wherever you choose to go or whomever you choose to meet we guarantee you a brilliant time.
THE WOMAN WHO WAITED 33 YEARS TO BECOME A PRINCESS
On her 28th birthday Lilian held a party at the Ambassadeurs Club where she met a man introducing himself as Prince Bertl of Sweden. She and Bertl became ‘just good friends’ but when Knightsbridge where she lived was bombed, Bertl abandoned a dinner at the Dorchester and fetched her back to his flat until it was safe for her to return. Somewhere along the line they quietly became a couple. At the war’s end Lilian and Ivan were amicably divorced and Bertl, as HRH Prince Bertl Duke of Halland, took to touring the world as the Swedish Trade Ambassador whilst finding it necessary to stay in London a fair bit. His ‘friendship’ with Lilian was now a love affair and they intended to marry, thinking any impediment to marriage between a Swedish Royal and a Welsh Commoner would be surmountable. But they were wrong: in 1946 came good news and bad news.
The good news was simple enough: Bertl’s eldest brother, Prince Gustaf Adolph, had a son Carl Gustaf who pushed Bertl down a notch in the succession rankings so marriage to Lilian wouldn’t threaten the Monarchy. But the bad news was both bad and tragic: a few months later Gustaf Adolph was killed in a plane crash and Bertl moved back closer to the throne than he’d ever been. His grandfather King Gustaf V summoned Bertl back from London and told him that, should he die before Carl Gustaf became of age he would become Regent, so any thought of marriage to Lilian was out of the question. Bertl later described that time as ‘the darkest days of his life’. In 1950 Bertl’s father became King and, with his eldest brother dead and his nephew only a child, Bertl became closer still to the throne and became Regent, so marriage to Lilian was a more distant prospect than ever. In 1956 Lilian quitely moved to Stockholm to live discreetly with Bertl but not in the Royal part of his life. The only place where they could go about as a couple was Sainte Maxime where Bertl had a villa to which they escaped as often as they could. When she was 80 Lilian described her exclusion from the Royal family:’I would only have been able to go to Church and then go home afterwards when the family went back to the Palace for lunch. So I watched everything on TV and felt really alone and sad’. And in that manner Lilian and Bertl lived out their lives.
It was'ny until 20 years later that Lilian received her first official Royal invitation – to celebrate the King’s 90th birthday. A year later in 1973 the king died and Bertl’s nephew succeeded him as King Carl XVI. 3 years later King Carl’s Queen Silvia became pregnant and Bertl went back down the Royal pecking order so the King gave Bertl and Lilian permission to marry in Drottningholm Palace. Bertl was then 64 and Lilian 61. At their wedding reception the King gave a speech in the form of a recipe for Cheese Soufflé a la Lilian.’Charm and humour is sizzled, personality added. Wisdom is added whilst stirring. Patience and judgement is spread over the finished dish. Glitter and smiles are spread over abundantly. Cooked with great patience, baking time 33 years. The result is perfection’.
As the now Duchess of Halland Princess Lilian became Sweden’s darling and most popular Royal of all, a favourite aunt to the Crown Princess’s Victoria and Madeleine and Crown Prince Carl Philip as well as a confidante of the Queen. Prince Bertl died in 1997 and Lilian had ‘unforgettable’ sung at his funeral. She carried on his Royal work until well into her 90′s having remarked at 80 that ‘the best thing about getting old is that I didn’t die young’. She died in March 2013 age 97 at her home in Djurgarden where she had spent her life with Bertl, first as a commoner hidden from the public and later as a Princess exposed to and adored by it.
The King ordered a State Funeral in her honour and in the morning’s cold chill the bells of all Stockholm’s churches rang for 10 minutes, whilst at midday the Riddarholmen rang a ‘seraphim peal’ for an hour. In his valediction the Royal Chaplain said ‘Lilian had borne a lot of pain to be there and not be seen for 33 years. And that dedication to her husband and his country, was her true declaration of love’. Lilian, the poor girl from Swansea who had waited 33 years to become a Princess, was buried as the Duchess of Halland at two in the afternoon to the sound of a 21 gun salute at the Royal Cemetery in Haga alongside her beloved Bertl. Her funeral was attended by the Queen of Denmark, Princess Astrid of Norway and the Swedish Prime Minister. The King and Queen of Sweden did not leave the Palace until gone 7 o’clock.