This winter, I spent 6 weeks living and working in the Arctic Circle, in a village called Karesuando. Split in two by the Muonio River, Karesuando sits both sides of the border between Finland and Sweden. It’s home to stunning scenery, a novel time jump… And not much else!
Arriving into Finnish Lapland is like arriving into some kind of surreal dreamscape. It’s all snow-covered trees and candy floss skies by day; Northern Lights and star-gazing by night. It’s truly beautiful, and unlike anywhere else I’ve ever visited.
The village itself is less spectacular, more quaint. There’s a hotel, a petrol station, a Lapland shop, a pub… And that’s it! The night life is more card games and beers than anything vaguely resembling a bar. When your nights are spent watching out for the Northern Lights though, a drink and a window is all you really need.
A little further along the road, there’s a bridge that leads over the Muonio River and into Sweden. Halfway across the bridge, there’s a sign marking the border between the two countries… A perfect photo opportunity! There’s a one hour time difference between Finland and Sweden, so when you stand with one foot either side of the sign, you’re actually standing in two different time zones. Blew my mind.
Once you cross the bridge (and jump an hour back in time), you can visit the most Northern church in Sweden. Set atop a snow-covered hill, the wooden, spired building of the church is beautifully quaint. It was also allegedly the setting for the first ever coca cola advert… I can’t find any evidence of this online, but the locals are insistent and regardless, it’s a nice story!
The Swedish side of the border is also home to a signpost that points to cities all over the world. Standing there, I was 2239km from London. The Arctic scenery of Karesuando felt an absolute world away from life at home, so it was fun to see just how far I’d travelled!
Crossing back over the bridge, you can catch a beautiful view across the Muonio River to the church. Standing under an Arctic sky, looking across a frozen river into another country, was truly spectacular.
Come night time, Karesuando is all about hunting the elusive Northern Lights. The village is so remote, and has so little light pollution, that it’s the perfect place to try and catch a glimpse… And I got so lucky! During the 6 weeks I was there, I saw the Lights on a regular basis. Unfortunately, my camera wasn’t quite up to the job, so I don’t have a decent picture to share with you.
To be honest though, I’m a little glad of that. Yes the Lights are pretty, but they’re also epic. Standing in the middle of an Arctic landscape, with nothing but frozen trees for miles around, watching the Lights fill the sky, is an experience that just can’t be captured in a photograph.
Have you visited any beautiful, remote locations? Share them with me in the comments sections!