Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime

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For this week’s challenge, I have chosen two photos.  The first photo is a scene that woke me up in the middle of the night, while we were staying in a glass igloo in Northern Finland.  We had waited for hours to see the northern lights outside in the freezing cold earlier this year and had given up.  After falling asleep for about an hour, I woke up and saw this amazing sight.  I took this shot and then we bundled up again and headed out into the freezing cold and were lucky enough to see an amazing show from the northern lights for about an hour:

A stunning sight of the northern lights I woke up to in the middle of the night from our glass igloo!

I managed to set up a tripod in the dark in a very tiny space that was in the center of the two twin size beds to get this shot.  This is the stunning sight of the northern lights we woke up to in the middle of the night from our glass igloo!

The second photo was taken from the top of the tower at the Clarion in Bergen, Norway.  Guests can request a key card to visit the tower and can see amazing panoramic views.  We were hoping to get lucky and see the northern lights again after our luck in Northern Finland earlier this year, but no such luck in Norway!  However, we were still grateful to be treated to this amazing view while we enjoyed a nice relaxing evening outside at the top of the tower: 

The beauty of Bergen, Norway at night!

One of the best kept secrets of Bergen, Norway is the tower at the Clarion.  This is one of the beautiful scenes you can enjoy from the tower at night!


Seeing the Northern Lights through a Glass Igloo in Lapland, Finland

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 This is the view we saw sometime after 1:00 a.m. from the glass igloo before falling asleep!

This is the amazing view we saw sometime after 1:00 a.m. from the glass igloo before falling asleep on March 29, 2014! The experience of a lifetime!!

My family and I took the adventure of a lifetime this past weekend when we boarded a plane for a short one and a half hour trip up to Northern Lapland, Finland.  We stayed at the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Saariselkä. We decided to stay in one of the log cabins for the first two nights after reading some reviews and did the last night in the glass igloo (no shower, only a sink and toilet), but overall more spacious than we thought it would be.  It ended up being one of the most exciting adventures of our lives!

We flew into the very small Ivalo airport and were picked up by a transfer bus to the resort.  We were then dropped off right in front of our cabin and given our key.  It was very convenient and the staff was very friendly (the owner who claims to be Santa’s brother even gave Mia a stuffed reindeer). They served us and the rest of the small group on our bus dinner at the restaurant even though we didn’t arrive until sometime close to 11:00 p.m. Breakfast and dinner were included, but I would recommend asking for their á la carte menu for more local choices for the dinner.

We were so determined to see an amazing show from the northern lights before we move in less than two months and we not only had one evening with an amazing show, we were completely shocked when we saw them 2 nights in a row (over one hour each night)!!  The first evening was too cloudy, so we waited and waited the next evening and finally saw them sometime after 11:00 p.m. on Friday evening.  One couple was so excited about seeing them that they got engaged right in front of us!! We gave up around midnight on Saturday evening after standing in the cold for so long, but then saw this amazing sight in the photo above sometime after 1:00 a.m.!  We ran outside in the cold again and watched an even better show than the night before!!  Everyone around us was so excited and I even had to email 4 different groups of people photos that we took to those who couldn’t take a clear enough shot from their cameras.  It was a very exciting weekend for all of us at the resort!!

 

This was right after we landed.  Transfer bus to the glass igloos!

This was right after we landed. Transfer bus to the glass igloos! We were so excited!!

 

This was the cozy 2-bedrrom cabin we stayed in the first two nights.

This was the cozy 2-bedroom cabin we stayed in the first two nights. It included a kitchen, living area, dining area, fireplace and also a sauna in the master bathroom.

 

Mia and I in front of the glass igloos.  There are only three rows of them (20 in total).

Mia and I in front of the glass igloos. There are only three rows of them (20 in total). A very special serene setting on a hill.

 

This is Mia and I in front of one of the beautiful glass igloos lit up before dark.

This is Mia and I in front of one of the beautiful glass igloos lit up before dark.

 

Wow!!! The beautiful Northern Lights!

Wow!!! The beautiful Northern Lights! Amazing things happen to those who wait… very patiently! The show of a lifetime!!

 

One of the happiest moments of my life... standing in front of the northern lights! Amazing!!!

One of the happiest moments of my life… standing in front of the northern lights! Amazing!!!

 

It looks like the ice the northern lights are coming right out of the Snow Chapel!

It looks like the northern lights are coming right out of the Snow Chapel! Breathtaking!!

 

This is the only shot with Mia in it before she fell asleep on a sled at midnight all bundled up in blankets!  She said she sleep so good on that sled under the stars!

This is the only shot with Mia in it before she fell asleep on a sled at midnight all bundled up in blankets! She said she had her best sleep on that sled under the stars!

 

Danny in front of the beautiful northern lights.

Danny in front of the beautiful northern lights. We worked so hard together trying to get the lights to show up in our shots with us in them. Photographing the auroras was extremely challenging while you are freezing!!

 

This shows one half of the beautiful arch from the northern lights.

This shows one half of the beautiful arch from the northern lights.

 

This is one of my favorite shots from Saturday evening (March 29, 2014)!

This is one of my favorite shots from Saturday evening (March 29, 2014)!

 

I was so excited to be standing in front of such an amazing show from the northern lights... one of the most exciting moments of my life!

I was so excited to be standing in front of such an amazing show from the northern lights… one of the most exciting moments of my life!

 

This is a day shot of the area where we viewed the amazing northern lights!

This is a day shot of the area (snow chapel) where we viewed the amazing northern lights! I believe this is the best location at the resort to see them with no trees blocking your view.

 

Kakslauttanen Hotel & Igloo Village entrance sign.

Entrance sign at the Igloo Village Kakslauttanen.

 

There are many beautiful art pieces around the resort.  This one was my favorite!

There are many beautiful art pieces around the resort. This one was my favorite!

 

My family and I really enjoyed our weekend trip to the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort and overall had an amazing experience that we will never forget!  For more information on the resort, you can visit:

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Saariselkä, Finland 99830.

For more information about Aurora Hunting and photography tips (I stumbled upon an article with Andy Keen and found his tips which were a great help to me although I still have lots to learn). I do hope to experience his “The Great Aurora Hunt” in Norway one day… what a dream that would be! Please visit:

Aurora Base Camp

For more information on the best times to see Auroras, please visit these two very helpful sites (I checked these often before our trip and almost every 15 minutes during our trip):

Aurora Service

Aurora Forecast (Includes the very important Kp tracker while aurora hunting. We only needed a Kp2 to see the auroras since we were so far north).

 

My next post will include our first experience ever snow skiing and snowboarding as well as our visit to Santa’s Home at Santa’s Resort.  We can now mark another Red Pin Adventure off our Travel Bucket List:

Stay in a glass igloo in Lapland (see an amazing aurora borealis show)!

Dog Sledding with Huskies & Seeing the Northern Lights in Lapland

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One of the huskies close-up during the ride. This is one of my favorite shots!

One of the huskies close-up during the ride. This is one of my favorite shots I took from our adventure!

My family and I had the chance to go Dog Sledding with Huskies and also to see the Northern Lights while on our visit to Rovaniemi, Finland a few weeks ago. Our trip to Lapland was one of the most exciting trips that we have ever taken!

Dog sledding with the huskies was probably one of the most exhilarating and relaxing experiences of our lives. The huskies were so excited before we went off for our ride… they kept doing this weird jump that reminded us of a fox while hunting. They couldn’t keep still and could hardly wait to go on the run!! We signed up for a one hour safari at the resort where we were staying (Santa Claus Holiday Village). When we signed up for the safari, we had no idea that my husband would be the one to actually drive the sled. Wow!! He had to go through a little lesson on how to use the brakes by pressing down on a wedge with his foot that went into the snow. He was also told how to assist the huskies while going uphill by pushing off in the snow with his feet. Mia and I sat in the sled and were covered in blankets since we were going on a pretty long ride. There was one sled in front of us with our tour guide and another sled behind us with another dad and his daughter.

After the huskies took off for our ride, all you could hear was Mia and I screaming with such excitement for about 10 minutes straight!! We were not expecting them to go so fast and we also went through such a twisted path at the beginning which went so close to so many big trees covered in snow. We kept thinking our sled was going to run right into them!! After the first 15 minutes of total excitement, we found ourselves in the middle of the most beautiful snow-covered forest. We were able to sit back and truly enjoy being in the Arctic Circle and Lapland! There were moments during the ride that we could not see the sled in front or back of us and it was just my family and I alone with the huskies in the forest. Although our tour started at noon, the sun was already setting around 1:00. The sun would rise around 11:00 and would be set by 2:00, so there was very little daylight there. Here are some of the photos I was able to get while riding in the sled and a few shots from right after our exciting ride:

This is the entrance to the husky sled dogs.  It was so beautiful all covered in snow!

This is the entrance to the husky sled dogs. It was so beautiful all covered in snow!

I saw this husky sleeping so peacefully in the snow when we first arrived for our sled ride.

I saw this husky sleeping so peacefully in the snow when we first arrived for our sled ride.

Danny and another dad learning how to drive the sled!

Danny and another dad learning how to drive the sleds!

Danny and Mia getting ready for our sled ride.

Danny and Mia getting ready for our sled ride.

Mia and I in the sled getting ready for one of the coolest rides of our lives!

Mia and I in the sled getting ready for one of the coolest rides of our lives!

The huskies getting ready for our sled ride.

The beautiful huskies getting ready for our sled ride.

The sun setting on our ride in Lapland.

The sun setting on our ride in Lapland.

  Enjoying the peacefulness… we were  all by ourselves  with the amazing huskies at this point during the ride.

Enjoying the peacefulness… we were all by ourselves with the amazing huskies at this point during the ride.

The beautiful scenery and the sun setting on our sled ride.

The beautiful scenery and the sun setting on our sled ride.

The huskies working hard  on our ride through a beautiful  snow covered forest.

The huskies working hard on our ride through a beautiful snow covered forest.

Mia and I right after our  exhilarating husky sled ride!

Mia and I right after our exhilarating husky sled ride! Our faces were frozen!

This amazing husky loved on Mia right after our sled ride!

This amazing husky loved on Mia right after our sled ride!  So sweet!!

Meeting a cute husky puppy while thawing out by the fire after our sled ride!

We met a cute husky puppy while thawing out by the fire after our sled ride! Our camera was fogged up from the heat in the hut!

Mia enjoying a gingerbread cookie after enjoying the yummy Salmon.

Mia enjoying a gingerbread cookie by the fire after enjoying some yummy Salmon right after our husky sled ride.

This little hut has the best Salmon… cooked over an open flame!

This little hut has the best Salmon… cooked over an open flame by Konsta the chef!

One of my dreams has always been to see the Northern Lights in person.  We knew that it could be hit or miss when trying to see them.  We only had two nights to see them and we had no luck the first night of our trip even though the sky was completely clear that night.  So, we had one last night and I was really hoping that we would get to see them on our trip to Lapland.  I researched the internet to see what our chances would be that evening and what the best time to go out to look at the sky for them.  I found out that the best time would be between 10:00 and 11:00, but we only had a moderate chance of seeing them according to the Auroras Now! website.

It was so cold (-6 F) and we could only stand to be outside for short periods of time, so we got all bundled up and headed outside at around 10:00.  We looked around and didn’t see anything and then I noticed a slight arched light gray hazy line about 2 feet in height started to form across the sky not far from the horizon.  We decided to climb up this snow mound close to our cabin and waited to see if anything would appear.  Then slowly right before our eyes this arched line started to change from the grey to orangish to a bright green!!  It would change in shape and disappear and then slowly appear again and at one point took up much of the sky at the horizon.  We were in complete shock!!! The whole show only lasted about 20 maybe 25 minutes top.  I wish I was better prepared to take photos I didn’t even have a tripod!  I hope that one day we will have the opportunity to go back and I will be able to getter shots.  Here is what we were able to get… Not great, but I’m sure you can tell that they are the Northern Lights: 

The Northern Lights only gave us a show for about 20 minutes, but it was a dream come true to see them in person!

The Northern Lights only gave us a show for about 20 minutes, but it was a dream come true to see them in person!

One of the coolest things we have ever seen!

One of the coolest things we have ever seen!

The Northern Lights in the sky right above where we stayed.

The Northern Lights in the sky right above where we stayed.

The amazing Northern Lights suddenly appeared in the sky right in front of our eyes!

The amazing Northern Lights suddenly appeared in the sky right in front of our eyes!

The snow mound were we viewed the Northern Lights.

I took this shot the next morning before leaving Lapland… this is the snow mound where we viewed the Northern Lights.

I will have one more post to end the craziest and most exciting  year of our lives so far. To end 2013, I  will share the story of a little angel who has been traveling with my family this past year.

We can now cross off these latest Red Pin Adventures off our travel bucket list:

Dog Sledding with Huskies

Lapland – See the Northern Lights