I have been home in Barcelona for two hours now, and I'm currently in the process of doing laundry and packing for Phase III of the holiday season: New York / Utah!
First of all, Finland was INCREDIBLE and I urge everyone who has never been there to check it out. If you like winter sports, you will be beside yourself with happiness in Lapland. The days are short this time of year (4 hours of light) but that didn't stop us from trying all sorts of new things: snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and reindeer sledding, to name a few. Juha was the perfect host, even as our group grew to 25 on New Year's Eve, so many thanks to him for putting us up at his incredible house and showing us how to live it up in Lapland.
Despite being warned about -30C temperatures, we were all pleasantly surprised when it never really got much colder than -10C. Which was cold enough! This is apparently the third warmest Finnish winter in a thousand years, but I think they just tell us those scary freezing stories to scare the tourists so the truth about their awesome winter playground doesn't get out!
More photos and details to come, but for now here are a few choice pix:
The Arktikum, a cool natural history museum in Rovaniemi, Dec 29
Dec 30, happy to be with friends and playing in the snow
With smelly reindeer pelts ... 8:30am Dec 31
Snowshoeing and sledding ... 11am Dec 31
New Year's Eve dinner all together at Juha's
The "Snow Bar" in the driveway, New Year's Eve
Juha's house, New Year's Eve
After driving a snowmobile to the top of the world... 10am Jan 1 (New Year California time!)
A reindeer at the reindeer ranch, Jan 1
Cross-country skiing yesterday around noon
Just off the night train from Rovaniemi to Helsinki this morning, 8:45am
This morning on a boat in Helsinki
Tomorrow morning I am on a flight to New York, where I will spend a night at the Annie Bananie Hotel before heading to Utah for a ski weekend Friday evening. Friday morning I have a second round interview over the phone, just to keep things interesting. Back to New York Monday night and I'll have Tuesday to relax before a final round interview early Wednesday morning. Then it's back to Barcelona on the redeye for my first day of classes on Thursday. At least I can never complain of boredom!