It has been a few weeks since I returned from the home of Santa. The land where the jingles never ends. The land famous for being the actual winter wonderland. The land better known as Finland. Upon arriving, the cold clearly hit hard as the wind started biting our skin and soon we felt like wearing 4 layers might not do the job of keeping us warm. The journey began in Ivalo. It was there when temperatures dropped to -33°C and yet to the locals that number is just a part of their daily lives. In Ivalo, the trees started to lose its natural colors, Their greens replaced with the soft white icing of snow and the browns darkening to black. Yet, death was captured in the form of beauty in that very land.
We enjoyed a little husky ride during the trip. The huskies being super adorable. (I actually cried after seeing the first one, don't judge). The scenes were amazing. I felt like I was living a life only storybooks could portray. Setting foot into the ankle deep snow was undoubtedly one the most surreal feelings I had ever experienced in my life. Probably because I grew up in a country where there is only rain, sun and more sun. Seasonal changes were never a part of my life. So getting to experience something like this was almost mind blowing. When the snow started to fall ever so gently down the dark skies of Finland, I felt like a kid. Snowball fights were initiated and snowmen were built. It was difficult trying to photograph moments like these though. Simply because the winter skies of Finland were only merciful enough to provide us with 5 hours daylight from 9am to 2pm everyday. After which the night claimed its place over our heads and proclaimed victory.
However, when the night came, the scenes got dramatic. Green and purple lights found their way to pierce into the dark abyss and dance as if to celebrate their win. The Aurora appeared and you got to sneak a peek at the light performance through the glass roof of your very glass igloo. It then got so much better once you were to start a campfire outside the steps of your glass igloo and started making S'mores as you enjoy the Aurora. The reflection during sunsets casts a tint of purple across the beautiful horizons and landscapes. The trees being coated with a color at this point of time. As it became darker, the forests started to look denser. The trees in front of you suddenly look so well packed thanks to the shadows created by the minimal natural night lamp in the sky.
The nature scenes in Ivalo were truly spectacular. Probably the best I have ever seen in my life. However due their extreme weathers, plantations do not go well for the people. Vitamin sources thus come from these little berries (refer to above picture). These berries were in such great supply you will find them making their way into main courses of your Scandinavian meals! They tasted a little sour and sweet. Perfect for sauces and drinks! It was also thanks to such extreme weathers were we able to try out such extreme sports like snowmobiling. The adrenaline as the engine began and the feeling of chilling cold wind against your body as you ride through the frozen woods and past frozen lakes was simply unforgettable.
Soon, we find ourselves on a domestic flight to Helsinki. The capital. It was in Helsinki did the sky fully cleared up for the first time and we experienced our first distinct golden hour. The sun rays escaping through the little gaps in these short yet vintage looking buildings. The tint of orange spreading across the serene town and casting a wonderful lighting upon the many national monuments around. The harbor leading you to a view of a horizon with the sun shining on a row of beautifully made houses. People walking their dogs in the tiny alleys in this town and the birds flying and chirping clearly praising the good wonders of seeing the golden hour.
Since we were in Finland and were already exploring a different continent we felt that we might as well visit an old country by the name of Estonia. Lying in the gulf of Finland. A 2 hour boat ride to this land and upon arrival you will find that this small country had managed to find its style of aesthetics through their architecture. Every where you look, I swear to God the buildings do not disappoint. The people here were also super friendly. Such a small country with so much culture to offer as well.
The whole entire trip to these wonderful countries had opened my eyes to so much wonderment. Despite the chilling cold and short hours of daylight for me to shoot, what I experienced there would probably be the most memorable experience for me. Every feeling I felt from walking through the city to find dinner to lying in the thick snow to forming a snow angel. Every minute and penny well spent. Thank you Finland!!