Gareth and I returned home yesterday after three weeks abroad in what I at first optimistically named our Aurora 2012 holiday. I’m afraid that I will now need to rename it our Winter Escape 2012 holiday, because although we had an absolutely fantastic time in Finland, we did not see the aurora (with one possible exception, but more about that later). Although 2012 was purportedly the solar max period in which the northern lights would be at their best, we had a snowy week in the arctic circle, which meant that whatever pyrotechnics the auroras were performing happened behind a thick bank of clouds and mist, and we missed it.

Oh well. I will not be able to cross off my bucket list item, but I definitely have an excuse to go visit again. I absolutely fell in love with Finland, even long before we stepped off the plane in Helsinki, right about the time FinnAir started handing out free chocolates! And the country continued to impress from then on. From the sheer strangeness of the arctic landscape to the extreme friendliness of the people we met, Finland is now definitely one of my favourite countries and highly recommended as worth a visit.

Future blog posts will describe some of the fun we had on our daily activities and here I must mention Ylläs Adventures, who organised all our excursions flawlessly. A special thank you to our guides (Herman, Helena, Una, Elena and others) who felt like old friends by the end of the week and kept us endlessly entertained and fascinated with their knowledge and in awe of their wilderness skills!

The other two weeks were spent in London, Wales and Scotland, so also expect a few posts from there, most notably our visit to the Sherlock Holmes museum and Madame Tussauds, Cardiff, Windermere and the Cairngorms National Park.

As a little teaser, I leave you with this picture of the breathtaking Finnish landscape:













Did you see the Northern Lights this year? Make us jealous in the comments below. 

For more posts in the Winter Escape 2012 series, click here.