Lapland

22nd December 2006 at 00:00
Annele Halmekoski teaches English and German to pupils aged 7 to 16 at Kitisenranta School in Sodanky* A, 130km above the Arctic Circle

Favourite place when you have a day off?

Depending on the season, I like to spend it picking berries or mushrooms, or hiking. In winter my husband and I drive to one of the many good skiing resorts in Lapland, such as Yl* As, and enjoy downhill skiing.

In Sodanky* A there is a nice mountain area called Luosto with cross-country, downhill skiing and snowboarding. In the same resort there is an amethyst mine where you can dig pieces yourself.

Kommattivaara, which is about 6km away, is good for beginners and families and offers biathlon - but you won't find me doing that.

Every Finn has a sauna, but my husband and I go ice swimming. This is good for circulation. Our town's sports department keeps a hole in the ice open all winter. We alternate five or six times between the hot sauna and swimming. The water is always warmer than the outside air. You wear a swimming costume - bikinis aren't advisable - and shoes, otherwise your feet freeze to the ice.

When's a good time to come?

In the spring in March or April. You can enjoy the snow and the spring sun at the same time.

In summer it would be clever to visit us before midsummer and before thousands of mosquitoes.

Evening delights?

We drive to Rovaniemi, which is about 130km away, just for the evening to see a musical or a concert. It's also where Father Christmas has his post office and his own village and where you cross the Arctic Circle.

Don't miss

Our Midnight Sun Film Festival in the middle of June. Every summer we watch films around the clock. Visit www.msfilmfestival.fi for more information.

In Urho Kekkonen National Park you can visit Tankavaara Gold Museum and Vuotso, the southernmost Sami village.

Remember to bring or buy

In winter you need thick overalls and winter boots; the temperature can drop down to about minus 40 degrees centigrade in December and January.

Visitors beware

Remember that the sun doesn't set in summer for a month and we see only glimpses of daylight around Christmas time Find out more

A book that could help you to understand the Lappish way of living is Pekka Antikainen: SaamenmaaLand of Saame by Sareka (ISBN 951-97038-2-9, 35.90 ) - you can see images from the book on www.leuku.fi Annele's school has a homepage in English: www.koulut.sodankyla.fikitisenranta Official websites:www.visitfinland.comuk; www.sodankyla.fi How to get there Discover the World offers a three-night February half-term break in Yl* As from Pounds 663 per person based on two sharing, including return flights from Heathrow, two nights at Hotel Saaga and one night in an ice room on a BB basis. Prices for a child sharing with two adults start at pound;368pp (ages two to five) and pound;416pp (ages six to 12). Extra activities, from pound;27, include husky mushing, reindeer sleigh rides and snowmobiling.

Christmas and New Year departures are also available. Details: 0870 060 3288 and www.discover-the-world.co.ukfinland Price to the planet Offset the climate cost of a return flight to Finland for pound;5 per adult. Visit www.climatecare.org

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