Getting to the middle of nowhere took me over twenty hours, but after a long yet surprisingly quiet night train journey, a couple of bus rides admiring the whiteness all around and a missed chance to visit the real Santa Claus, I got there safe and sound.
By the time I arrived in Inari it was already dark – it was likely to happen, as in November there are not even five hours of “daylight” in this remote village of the Finnish Lapland – so I just checked in the hostel and relaxed near the cosy fireplace with some fellow globetrotters. I still could not believe that I was way above the Arctic Circle.
We were staying right next to lake Inari, the second largest lake in Finland and the first and only thing I could see when I looked out of my bedroom window the next morning. At that moment I thought, and still think, that lakes – especially when frozen – convey so much tranquillity. In spite of the bucolic landscape, we did not spend the day gazing out and sighing melancholically but the opposite; we put on a pair of rubber boots – which leave your toes completely frozen when it is -20ºC outside – and we were off to do some nordic walking on the lake, with the due stop to ice fish.
After a comforting hot lunch at a small reindeer farm and a glimpse at the off-duty cute Santa Claus assistants, it was time to walk back. Crossing the lake silently, I looked up to the dusky sky and had a magic feeling. Have you ever been somewhere so astonishingly beautiful that you feel like you are momentarily out of this world? That was my first mystic moment. Being from a Mediterranean country, every detail of that Lappish scenery looked so new and surreal to me. It is hard to describe the strange energy that surrounded me. Unfortunately, it only lasted until I heard the sound of the ice cracking under my feet. I am not easily scared but I admit that walking on a cracking frozen lake in the dark was actually quite frightening, especially because the lake is so large that you could not just run to the side to be safe. Despite the overwhelming vastitude of Inarijärvi, as the Finns call it, I managed to make it to the hostel.
Some more fun packed days came after that one, which only made me realise about the great impact that new experiences have on us. Doing something for the first time, from ice fishing to photographing a reindeer, brings me back to my innocent first years of life, when there seemed to be so many new things to be discovered.