Scanadventures Blog
Northern Lights by snowmobile | Holidays to Iceland


For several reasons not least the country's population being just 350,000,the alacrity with which it set up its 'track & trace' system and 
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Lulea Archipelago | SAS Direct flights to Swedish Lapland


For as long as the author can remember I've thought Swedish Lapland and specifically the area inland from Lulea on the Gulf of Bothnia to be a hidden gem. Hidden only in the sense that it's been too complicated/difficult and or expensive to get to. But now ( or at least from the beginning of 2021) that'll be a thing of the past with the advent of the new SAS flight DIRECT to Lulea from Stanstead. 

Fromnext winter you'll be able to whisk direct from London Stanstead to the Bothnian Gulf and Swedish Lapland for a long weekend or a week from Monday to Friday. The twice-weekly flights will leave London on Fridays at 09:50  and Mondays at 17:55, with returns on a Monday at 14:55 and Friday mornings at 06:50. 

We're working on innumerable ways for you to enjoy yourself but for straters think of owner driver Göran Widén's Pine Bay Lodge. In this unique marine wilderness you can take a hovercarft to the edge of the ice pack, mush huskies, snowshoe in search of The Northern Lights or snowmobile across the ice or in the forest. And at the end of each day wrap yourself up in the warmth of the Lodge and Swedish Lapland. Whilst in summer the Archipelago is accessible by boat, in winter the lodge is best accessed by snowmobiling across the frozen sea (an awe-inspiring experience in itself). About 30 minutes away from Lulea city, at the Lodge you’re close enough to everything you could need, yet secluded enough to make the most of the Swedish Wilderness. More detail on
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Father Christmas' Cottage in Finnish Lapland


Some years back I succumbed to months of relentless pressure from my children and took them to Thorpe Park for the day. They loved it – I hated it. They saw only the thrill of the rides – I recall hours waiting in cattle pens to get on them. They just ate – I starved because the food was execrable. Later that same year we went to see the Royal Shakesp0eare Company’s version of Peter Pan. Hook was menacing; Neverland never more authentic and Peter’s flight ‘straight on to morning’ mesmerizing. The children loved it – I loved it – we all loved it. Which brings me to Father Christmas in Lapland and taking children to see him.
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
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Blue Lagoon | Holidays to Iceland


Norway: a mountainous spine of a country bordered by Sweden, Finland & Russia to the East and the sea with a raw, jagged 16,000 mile coastline to the West. Indented by Fjords, coursed by valleys, laid with lakes and with Skerries and Islands randomly littering the sea as if carelessly cast aside by some quixotic Nordic God. Above the Arctic Circle endless days under the Midnight Sun & Black Nights illuminated by the Northern Lights.

Iceland: parked in mid Atlantic, Iceland is like a geological visitor centre without the plastic. At every turn there are fumaroles, geysers, waterfalls, rhyolite mountains, rift valleys, calderas, andesite lava fields, glaciers, black sand beaches, glacial lagoons, pseudo-craters, moraine out wash plains, fjords, melt water rivers and more. And for a bit of variety each quadrant of the island is different one from the other!

Sweden: stretching from Skane in the south, where the country practically touches Denmark, to the apex of the Scania peninsula, Sweden is a pastoral tapestry studded with elegant cities. Carefully manicured fields gradually give way to birch and pine forests, the skerried west coast contrasts with the Stockholm Archipelago, and either side of the country, Goteborg & Stockholm vie with each other for style, chic and culinary kudos.

Finland (Suomi): sculpted by the Ice Age into the Land of Forests & Lakes, Suomi is the surprise that never stops surprising. Vast pine & birch landscapes interwoven with Towns and Cities handing down their Swedish & Russian legacies. And beyond Ostrobothnia and the Arctic Circle, lies Sapmi (Lapland) with its Rolling Fjells and Arboreal Forests that are Winter Playgrounds and where, in Korvantunturi, you'll find the legendary home of Father Christmas.

Denmark: the birthplace of the King of Fairytale writers, much of Danmark is a Fairytale itself. This, the oldest of the European Kingdoms, stretches over the Jutland Peninsula and 1431(sic) islands including Funen and Sjealland on which sits Kobenhavn: a City State all of its own. The Little Mermaid, despite being decapitated twice, having her arms sawn off and being sung to by Danny Kaye, remains the City and the Country's most enduring symbol.
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UK - Fludir
Scheduled flight to Reykjavík. Collect hire car on arrival and drive to Fludir. Check in and overnight at the Hotel Fludir.
Fludir - Vik 
Drive up to Pingvellir Lake, along to Geyser's hot springs and Gullfoss invariably overarched with a rainbow; stop at Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss, possibly detouring up to Myrdalsjokull for a glacier snowmobile ride before arriving at Dyrholaey. Overnight at the Icelandair Hotel Vik.
Vik - Oraefi
Drive along the southeast coast with bridges fording several dramatic outwash plains interspersed with black sand beaches. Overnight at the Fosshotel Nupar for 2 nights.
Spend the day walking in Skaftafell Natural park with its contrasting landscapes of dwarf birch woodland, glacier tongues, melt water rivers, moorland and sand plains.
Oraefi - Egilsstadir
The highlist of the day's journey is the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon before a drive alongside eastern fjords overhung by rhyolite crags contouring the indented coastline and dotted with fishing villages. Overnight at guesthouse Egilsstadir.
Egilsstadir - Myvatn
Vast seemingly endless deserts of glacially crushed rock are the hallmark of today's drive before reaching the contrasting lushness of Myvatn. Overnight at Fosshotel Myvatn.
Lake Myvatn
Time to explore the extraordinary scenery and wildlife in the area: the wooded headland at Höfði with its lava pillars; contorted black towers of Dimmuborgir; the pastel coloured Námafjall ridge with its steamy surroundings and smouldering, sulphurous Krafla. Further afield there are multi-hued houses that hug the mountainside by the fishing village OF Husavik from where you can go whale spotting; the unusually wooded Canyon at Asbyrgi; Dettifoss with it's dishwater grey torrent and the somewhat forgotten Selfoss with its wide curtain fall.
Myvatn - Reykjavik
Drive across to Akureyri and through the Oxnadalsheidi pass through the heart of horse breeding country and down into Reykjavik via Borgarfjordur and Borgarnes, where the Saga centre is worth a stop. Drop off car and overnight at the Hotel Centrum.
Reykjavik - UK
Morning at leisure. Transfer to Keflavik airport for your scheduled return Icelandair flight back to the UK.
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Northern Lights over Iceland's Hotel Ranga | Northern Lights Holidays


Of course just because you have one doesn’t mean there’s an answer. We’ve been asked everything from ‘what time do they turn the Northern Lights on?’ to ‘what’s the difference between them and the Midnight Sun?’ So politician like, our Golden Rule is to ask a different question: what sort of holiday would like even without seeing them. Is an urban city break your thing, do you fancy ‘sleeping on ice’ or 'under glass'; are you up for hardcore snow safaris or is a lazy, luxy weekend for you? Then we  counsel you to put seeing the aurora in the Lap of the Gods. That said here’s our best answer to the where,when,what and how question. 

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  to get the whole pictures. 

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’. 

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. 

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. 
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Breakfast in a Glass Igloo| Holidays to Finnish Lapland


Ryanair have just announced that as of October 31st 2018 they're launching direct flights from London Gatwick to Rovaneimi in Finnish Lapland.The new flights will operate on Sundays and Wednesdays bringing access to several of our featured destinations that are within easy reach of Lapland's self styled 'Capital'. Added to Norwegian's direct flights there are 4 direct flights a week from Gatwick plus of course twice weekly flights with Finnair to Ivalo in Inari and Kittila in Western Lapland. In short Finnish Lapland & the Northern Lights have never been closer and same day direct access to our artisan locations never easier.
Our arrangement in Luosto ( can now be fitted in with your home/work schedule as can our Igloo Adventure at Sinetta ( And there'll be more bespoke designed holidays to come this winter including at Apukka a quirky place in the middle of the forest with Ice cabins and a sauna on Skis (ski)
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Reportedly the number of people taking an Iceland Holiday has quadrupled in the last 7 years.  And whilst the island's vast moraine deserts are, of course, still dotted with  steaming  fumaroles, scarred with glaciers and edged with rainbow imaging waterfalls, in some places there are more people than puffins. So as we always do we search out the places others don't - here's our latest update. 

Better known to locals as Gamla Laugin the 'not so secret lagoon' is the real thing - a local village spa by Fludir whose natural hot springs with water at around 38 Celsius are surrounded by steaming fumaroles. Time past was when every village had steam baths like these where the locals relaxed and kept themselves clean. If you want a true hint of Iceland not a synthetic, manufactured one this the place for you. You can see it for yourself on our Reykavik Brief Encounter Short Break
Fjallsárlón is an iceberg lagoon at the south end of the glacier Vatnajökull. On the lagoon, you can see floating icebergs that calve from the edge of the glacier. Unlike its better known near neighbour Jökulsárlón is a icy oasis where you can get up close and personal with the glacier from which bergs regularly calve in to the lagoon. We include a trip on the lagoon on our Flashpackers Safari or any Road Trip we arrange for you.
On a trip some years back my No 2 son spotted some women spanning 3 generations stood in the scorched sand coloured desert with steam plumes evanescently disappearing over Lake Myvatn. They were gathered 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.The bread is a compact sweet rye, an acquired taste and to be had on any of our tours to the North. 
Whale watching from Dalvik on the Eyjafjordur close to Akureyri in Iceland's north east corner. Here you have as good as chance as it gets of seeing the great humpback whale and you can often spot white-beaked dolphins, minke whales, the small harbour porpoises and sometimes even the majestic blue whale, fin whales or killer whales. Overall our partner sees whales or dolphins on 98% of his tours.
The Island Archipelago is made up of the main island with just over 4000 inhabitants,15 uninhabited islands (although 6 have hunting cabins), around 30 rocks and skerries, and Surtsey an island formed by underground volcanic eruptions between 1963 to 1967. If you want a chunk of Iceland unsullied by tourism's ludicrous excesses, people living ordinary lives, gob smacking scenery and wildlife the archipelago is for you.The islands also have a back story of fortitude, bravery and selflessness born of a volcanic eruption in  
A quintessentially idiosyncratic Icelandic enterprise at Friðheimar Knútur and Helena grow tomatoes all year round under glass rendering the long dark winters irrelevant. Along the way they've found time to raise 5 children (all blonde and blue eyed of course); breed horses and open an atrium restaurant in the middle of their greenhouse complex so you can lunch on what they grow. On many of our arrangements we include a visit here either as part of a group or on a bespoke Road Trip. Browse around what they get up to here 
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Arctic Spa at Isfjord Radio Station Svalbard | Holidays to Norway


Svalbard is as close (just 600 miles) to the North Pole as you can get by commercial plane. Perhaps more importantly its staggeringly, awesomely, amazingly, sublimely, supercalifragilisticexpialidociously beautiful. Mountain peaks with fossile imprints, moraines, fluvial deposits, beach deposits, talus and scree from the Ice Age, vertiginous glacier walls, snow filled valleys and imperious ivory topped peaks. It's also so eerily quiet you can hear the wind brushing the sides of mountains and the screech of gulls overhead.

On top of all the scenic cornucopia the archipelago is home to 30 different migratory birds including Little Auks, Northern Fulmars,Thick-billed Murres and Black-legged Kittiwakes, Arctic Fox; 4 terrestial mammals Arctic foxes, reindeer, polar bears and voles, and over 15 marine mammals including whales, dolphins, seals and walruses.

Longyearbyen (named after a John Munro Longyearbyen, an American coal magnate[sic]) is the capital. It more or less has to be, given the only other settlements are Ny-Ålesund  with a year round population of 30 and the mining town of Barentsburg with some 500 Russian miners and their families, as against Longyearbyen's teeming masses numbering just over 2000. Almost all the houses are company owned so virtually the entire population works for one or other of the hospitality, research or mining companies. 

Svalbard was first overwintered in the 17th century by Dutch hunters and then by Russian & Norwegian fishermen until the late19th. It was then more or less de-populated until coal was discovered , the mining of which still continues today although as much for political reasons than commercial ones.

Around the winter solstice between mid November and mid January when the sun is 6 degrees or more below the horizon you have real Polar night with twilight in the middle of the day. Then come the spring equinox everything flips the other way round and by late April there's no twilight, the sun is above the horizon 24/7 so when asked what there is to do in the evening we say 'nothing - there is no evening'!! So winter brings some of the best chances of seeing the Northern Lights on the planet (literally) and summer the chance to play on the planet all night long. 

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Sipping coffee in Copenhagen | Hygge by ScanAdventures


Last November the Guardian's Chief Culture Writer Charlotte Higgins wrote over 6000 words on Hygge for the newspaper's Long Read during which she managed to associate the word with the far right, escapism, illiteracy, capitilist exploitation and cycinicism in publishing. But then she not only writes for the Guardian she is the Guardian. The only thing not in her 'read' was a Hygge Balliol Quatrian (Charlotte is a Balliol Girl).

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 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 Zealand's coastline 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.

But you won't find it in a book or a shop. And 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 an author and blogger 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 [ ] 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[]  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 [ ] and smell, touch and feel it.


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Woman cooling off in Blue lagoon | Iceland Holidays| ScanAdventures


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

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.
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Fumaroles at Namafjell Myvatn | Iceland Holidays


I was on the way down from Namafjell to Reykjahlid for the third time driving as slowly as I could with Mrs Odinsson alongside me and No 2 son in the back.  Either side of us were sulphur pits and fumaroles with steam plumes drifting lazily across the scorched sand coloured mountains and then evanescently disappearing over Lake Myvatn. No 2 son had his finger on the point on the map stretched out on his lap marked 'Underground bakery' which he was determined to find.

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 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
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Aurora Igloo in Luosto | ScanAdventures Blog


Beginning with Jussi Eiramo's creations at Kakslauttanen the fad in Finnish Lapland over the last few years has been glass igloos: the lazy man's way of spotting the Northern Lights from the comfort of your bed for the night. We're not sure what the planning rules in Lapland are but they must be relatively relaxed since they are literally popping up all over the place. Of course for geometric pedants some are not strictly igloos in shape; there are conical shaped ones reflecting the traditional Sami Lavvu, cabins with glass roofs and some luxy cabins with panoramic windows looking out over the forest. What's common to them all is the techno glass which prevents it frosting over so you can lie in your bed keeping a watch on the night sky and not missing a chance of seeing the Northern Lights if they should choose to appear that night. So here's our first hand guide to the best with our own star rankings for each.

Levi (5*)
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:
Luosto (4*)
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:
Kakslauttanen (4/5*)
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
Sinetta (4*)
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.
Nellim (3/5*)
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  
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Randers Fjord ferry | ScanAdventures | Denmark Holidays


It's on the right hand side of Denmark's Jutland Peninsula at the head of an eponymously named fjord and perfect for a short break either on its own or together with somewhere else. It's also quick & easy to get to. I flew with BA on their new service to nearby Billund which took not much more time it took for me to get across the Randersfjord on the high tech ferry shown here. 

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!!

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.

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. 

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!!

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.

And for the 10th thing watch this space for special things to do and ways to do them.


*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.
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Northern Lights over Vesteralen | Northern Lights Holidays


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.
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Sightseeing by Helicopter | Holidays to Iceland


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
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Aurora Glass Kota at Luosto | Lapland Holidays | ScanAdventures


Although glass igloos first appeared in Kakslauttanenen which is probably why they're the ones most people have heard of, more recently they've cropped up all over Finnish Lapland and leached into Norway and Sweden. They also now come in all sorts of shapes and sizes: pointy hat ones modelled on the traditional shape of a Sami Kota; combination ones that are part log cabin and part igloo and bubble shaped ones that are just that 'glass bubbles'. The latter are the brainchild of the Nellim Wilderness Lodge's owner driver Jouko Lappalainen, the glass Sami Kotas sit alongside one of our favourite boutique hotels at Luosto and the new cabin combi ones are at Kakslauttanen where Jussi Eiramo has pioneered them alongside his original ones. 

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. 

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Design artist's view of solar powered ICEHOTEL by ScanAdventures


Thanks to some innovative solar power technology, paradoxically using the sun's heat to keep ice frozen, 2016 saw Sweden's legendary ICEHOTEL open its doors all year round just like any other hotel. 25 years ago local Jukkasarvi boy made good (very good), Yngve Bergqvist, built an Ice art gallery for visiting Japanese Ice Sculptors which morphed into the ICEHOTEL.

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.

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The Altar in the ICEHOTEL church ScanAdventures


There have probably been more column inches written about, and pictures taken, of Sweden's ICEHOTEL than any other hotel in the world. Herb Ritts put it on the map back shortly before he died with a shoot for Absolut Vodka and Versace. Brazilian Super model Raquel Zimmermann for Hermes & Naomi Campbell for Versace have braved the ice there, and Kate Moss posed inside an ice sculpture at minus 40 Celsius. ICEHOTEL has spawned imitators around the world from Melbourne to Quebec and licensed its own ICEBARS in London and Stockholm. But here’s 5 of the hotel's secrets you might not know, and which make it more than just a hotel. 1] Its an ART GALLERY. It was originally built as temporary lodgings for a group of visiting Japanese ice sculptors by a man called Yngve Bergqvist and only ever intended to be just that: temporary. Yngve called it Ice Art because it also acted as a gallery for sculptures, wall decorations and furniture and that's what it still is. Each year designers in all sorts of fields enter a competition to design Art Suites which form the centrepiece accommodation for the hotel.This year out of 130 concepts put forward just 19 have been chosen for this year's Art Suites ranging from 'Elephant in the Room' by Anna Sofia Mååg to 'Counting Sheep' by six time contestant Luca Roncoron. 2] Its a CHURCH. Other Ice Hotels, Igloo villages and the like talk of having a chapel; the ICEHOTEL's however is a church proper, consecrated each December. We've lost count of couples we've arranged wedddings and blessings for but each has had the white wedding to end all white weddings. 3] Its a RESTAURANT & BAR. It has a fabulous foodie standard restaurant and ICEBAR, the latter replicated just off London's Regent Street and with imitators from Melbourne to Quebec. The cocktails come in ice glasses & include Arctic concoctions such as Dog Sled Sour and Sparkling Polar Night. The Restauarnt's Bleak roe with potato rosti, Cured smoked fillet of Arctic char, fennel puree, Arctic char mousse & sea buckthorn, Fillet of reindeer with Jägermeister sauce, potato fondant, vegetables & cloudberry jelly; caramel tuile, nougat ganache with truffles & Arctic bramble sorbet are - well you get the point. 4] Its an ACCIDENT that happened. Yngve Bergqvist, the man who started it all never foresaw his original temporary creation would be world famous and freely admits as much. As Benny said of that other famous Swedish institution, ABBA, when he and it became hip again, he never saw it coming. It's longevity, fame and iconic status has just been an accident. 5] It DISAPPEARS each spring. Despite the snow cannons that aerate snow & ice into ‘snice’ as they call it; the JCB’s that do the heavy lifting and the Volvo designed production line for producing ice bricks it still melts away in spring. Although watch this blog for solar powered updates. PS If you want to see some of these secrets for yourself, take a look at
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Snowshoe geocaching at Killopaa on the Finnish fjells?


How does a day of treasure hunting sound to you? How about if you can combine that with exploring new places and spending the day outdoors?

Geocaching, with over 6 million users worldwide, is a wildly popular GPS-based outdoor game that can be played anywhere by anyone with a smart device. The main idea is to navigate to a set of GPS coordinates to locate a cache: a small container that includes at least a logbook and possibly some other things as well, such as collectibles or travel bugs that move from cache to cache. You won’t know it unless you’re a geocacher (and be aware that you’re not allowed to reveal the caches to 'muggles'!), but there are caches everywhere. I repeat, everywhere. Once you get started, you will never look at things the same way again.

The cache types vary from traditional caches, like described above, to mysteries (you need to solve a puzzle or another kind of a mystery to get the coordinates) and even series of multiple caches (you need to find one to get coordinates for the next one, and so on). Each cache is registered on the website and has its own code, and you should log your findings in the system. The caches are made and kept up by other geocachers, so once you’ve got the hang of it, you can even make your own!

Typically, a cache introduces something new, like sights, sceneries, memories or history through its description and location, which is why in addition to being great fun for the whole family, it is a great tool for exploring new places while travelling: you might end up finding amazing hidden gems that you would never have come across without the help of local geocachers. It also makes for a good exercise and a nice day outdoors (like snowshoe geocaching in Kiilopää) – the caches are hidden in all kinds of places varying from swamps to hills and lakes (yes, there are caches in lakes) to buzzing city centres. With the help of your smart device, you can see all the caches located near your whereabouts and freely choose the places you want to explore and the routes to take there. There are different sizes, difficulty levels and terrains for caches, all information which you can find in the cache’s description.

Even though a smart device connected to the internet is needed to use the GPS and the Geocaching mobile app’s compass to navigate to the cache, it is also possible, albeit more challenging, to check the locations beforehand and navigate towards them the old fashion way - with an actual map in hand. Anything you find can be logged online afterwards!

To get started, go to for more details, grab a friend, and start exploring (and remember to lay low)!

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.

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In 1973 a US Navy C-117 (a military version of the DC3) had to make a forced landing on Solheimasandur's black sand beach close to Skogafoss. The stories as to why, have multiplied over the years not least because they tend to be told and retold by farmers. One version tells of the engines icing up, another that the pilot ran out of fuel and yet another that he switched fuel tanks by mistake. The mystery multiplies as official records give the date of the crash as November 24th but archives of local newspapers record it as having happened two days earlier. Whatever the truth the crew survived after being rescued by Guðmundur Jónasson whose descendents we still work with.

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
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Whale surfacing over Bleik Ocean Canyon by Andoy


Vesteralen, the lesser known archipelago sitting just above the Lofoten Islands, has the great advantage of being just that - lesser known. Passengers on the Hurtigruten will have heard of it because the ships dock at Stokmarknes and Sortland but apart from them most people would go 'where' if you asked. At Andoy, the very tip of the archipelago, ships steam out over the Bleik Ocean Canyon which is the feeding ground for giant sperm whales and the spy hopping Orcas. At Stave, the  white crescent sand beach sheltered from the northerlies and ocean mists, is the spot to unwind from the day in a secret beach sauna. The fishing boat Laura chugs out to Bleiksoya home to thousands of Puffins with their characteristic rainbow coloured beaks.

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. 
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Apart from snow tipped mountains, moss clad lava fields, plumes of steam drifting from the ground, glaciers and the odd Volcanic eruption bringing the western world's airline industry to a grinding halt the other thing you'll notice in Iceland is the ponies. Of course, call them ponies and you'll likely be arrested and put on the first plane back to where you came from. Invariably between 13 and 14 hands and therefore whilst unquestionably pony size they are horses; beautiful, even tempered and with coat colours for which the Icelandic language has over a 100 names. Splashed white, yellow dun, dark buckskin, roan, flaxen, blaze,cremello, palomino and keep going in combination until you get over a hundred. Its most obvious trait is its five gaits of which the tolt is the one most noticable to anyone the moment they land in the country and see their first horse.
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New Combination Kelo Pine & Glass Igloo at Kakslauttanen


When it's a] made of glass b] annexed to a cabin and c] one of Jussi Eiramo's latest creations at Kaklsuattanen. Jussi, who went for a weekend's fishing at Kakslauttanen and has stayed ever since, is obviously easily bored. He began by building a clutch of deadwood pine log cabins set amongst a pine forest. Then came an Ice Village with a chapel, real snow igloos, a giant smoke sauna and other bits and pieces. Then he turned a one time gold panning field into a home for Father Christmas and built some glass (sic) igloos alongside it. And now this coming November comes an amalgam of cabin and igloo. The cabin bit looks like you want a log cabin to look like: built from the rare ‘dead standing’ pine known as kelo which, because it needs no machining, retains all its natural texture, colour and even pine smell. The igloo bit is made of a unique heated glass which keeps its clarity and through which you can see the stars and Northern Lights for as long as they appear, and you can stay awake. Cabigloos are 57 m2 with a twin sofa bed and bunk beds in the living area and twin beds in the Igloo bedroom part. Each has an open log fire, WC/Shower & private sauna. There's not many of them so first come first served
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Petrus Matti with sooty coffee close by Menesjarvi


Petrus Matti is a Sami reindeer herder, as was his father and grandfather before him. He tends his herd in the same grounds as they did, his only concession to modernity being he travels out to the forest on an uber cool snowmobile rather than skis. He has somewhere around 3000 deer (its not done to ask how many exactly) who roam wild in Inari and forage for food in an area that's his by ancestral right. He inevetaibly loses animals from illness and predator attacks so tending them is vital. I met up with him outside his triple glazed house in a clearing with hides hanging to dry from the outhouses opposite his front door. Out in a clearing he chants a sort of Joik (traditional Norway chanting) which carries up to 5km and within minutes anything up to 100 animals join him. You and he feed them and then have sooty coffee around an open fire. He really is the real deal.
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Tinja Myllykangas the dog whisperer of Inari and her rescued Huskies


We had overnighted at the Korpikartano, a one time primary school by Lake Menesjarvi in Inari with guest lodgings. Now we were on our way to meet the woman the locals call the 'dog whisperer' and the 50 or so huskies and horses she keeps at her home. Tinja Myllykangas greets us outside 'Siperia' a small clapboard house without electricity or running water standing at the foot of Muotkatunturi fell . She's flanked by men standing in a rather formal line like the servants in Downton. With alabaster skin, grey blue eyes and blonde tressess hanging falling from her ear flapped woollen hat she looks more like a Philip Pullman Dark Materials character than a modern day husky musher. All around her are dogs; strong Alaskan Malamutes retired from the Finnmarksløpet a 1000m endurance race, slighter Siberian ones, Wolf hounds and Greenland sled dogs, many more or less abandoned before Tinja found them and to ok them in. All are anxious to be picked for a run and howling with impatience. We help harness the dogs up in teams of six although our 'help' was something of a misnomer; more of an indulgence as we struggled with the firm strength of the dogs. Once harnessed up we were off and a silence settled over us as we mushed out across the sun sparkling frozen lake. I often talk of 'the sound of silence' when north of the Arctic Circle where the background noise of urban life is no longer. Inari is the spiritual home of the Sami people and the islands on the Lake where they once buried their dead to the sound of Joiks and the Shaman's drum. As the tall pines swish by you to the sound only of the dog's paws padding in the snow it's not hard for your mind's eye to conjure up the sense of an ancient Sami spirit. We cross frozen lakes, climb up the side of fjells sometimes following a clean straight trail and at others clambering around and over moguls. Occasionally we stop whilst a set of dogs are untangled or switched from one team to another. Concentrating on our newly acquired skills, time evaporates in the chilled air and suddenly it's all over. Back at Siperia we unharness the dogs and wallk them back to their pens feeling slightly guilty at taking leave of them with little more than a perfunctory and valedictory cuddle. Tinja is the woman we sneakingly all harbour to be: independent, strong willed, eschewing the modern world's temptations without self regard. Her dogs are testimony to her life's work. Inari is beauty in the snow. You may not want to emulate her but for a short taste of her life we have 3 day ScanAdventures next winter with her as the centrepiece.
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Hotel Reykjavik Natura | ScanAdventures Brief Encounter City Breaks


Every so often we surprise and even surpass ourselves. A few weeks back Odinsson2 saw the Hotel Natura which he had unforgivably not done since it morphed out of the old Loftleidir. Well you can’t really call this a refurbishment or renovation more like a transformation. The reception isn’t like a reception, more of an open plan living room with bar, comfort seating cubby holes here and there, bar and a restaurant serving up Icelandic produce in a contemporary style. The rooms are a chunky 22m2 and have in them what you’d expect from a 4 star hotel: private WC/bathtub/shower, WI-FI, TV, hairdryer, coffee/tea maker and Soley organic toiletries. (If you’re not up to speed Soley is Icelandic actress Sóley Elíasdóttir who turned her family’s cosmetics business into a sort of an upmarket Body Shop).

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
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Harbour MAR, a chic foodie place


Down by Reykjavik harbour MAR is a chic foodie place with an effortless style and a Latin take on what Iceland has the best of: fish, fish and lamb. I went a couple of weeks ago and had the salted cod, a ‘to die for’ dessert and too much wine but none the less paid no more than I’d pay in London for the same standard. The atmosphere is stylish without being achingly trendy which I suspect owes a lot to its manager Snorri Valsson who ran the Hotel Holt for some time.

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
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 Northern Lights over Vesteralen |  | Northern Lights Holidays


It’s a little known but irrefutable fact that smokers have a 100% better chance of seeing the Northern Lights than non smokers [Northern Lights aficionado and Goddess of Nepal Joanna Lumley is a twenty a day girl]. So one way of improving your chances of seeing them is to pick up some duty free before you get to within the ‘aurora arc’ and starting puffing away self consciously the moment you arrive. It all being about being outside; Marlborough is the obvious brand choice (geddit?). One or two other things like solar activity; moon phase; cloud cover; urban light pollution and proximity to the magnetic pole in an algorithmic like combination also determine what you see and when.

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.
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Lilian Davies the real life Cinderella story of The Duchess of Halland


Because she was poor and nobody bothers chronicling the lives of the poor, we know nothing of Lillian’s early life other than she was the daughter of a working class family from the Welsh valleys. Later without a hint of self pity she described her childhood: ‘we lived in a poor area, a mining district, where I stayed until I was 18. My life there was miserable. There was no joy, no life. Nothing.’ During the Depression Lillian took herself to London, dropped one of the l’s from her name and re-invented herself. Despite her low birth she had a patrician beauty which bought her work as a model for Vogue and later as an actress. She took up with a fellow actor called Ivan Craig, glided around the film studio world and rubbed up against what in those days was called ‘Society’. Lilian married Ivan on the eve of WW2 and settled in to a Mrs Minerva like role volunteering at a hospital whilst Ivan joined the army.

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 forma 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'nt 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.
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