You know it is good to try to find the christmas spirit from somewhere else if at home it looks like this.
It just does not feel like winter, hence we did what any sensible person would do.
Boarded a plane to Joensuu.
On the plane it was fun to see that even though Finnair does not server Bernard Massard as a sparkling wine on their planes, Flybe still does.
Joensuu did not look that much more wintery…
Things started to look different when we got to the hotel Koli.
As we had arrived to Koli before everyone else, we had some time to eat before going to the cottage.
Insanely good vendace soup, sautéed moose ( not reindeer ) and a local blueberry pastry.
Cottage was located right next to the Koli national park – in quite remote strip of road.
That only means it is much more comfortable to build an environment and experience for christmas as closest neighbors are not just few meters away.
Days at Koli followed similar pattern: outdoor life during sunny hours, then eating, sauna, playing games and finally a good night sleep. Total relaxation.
Safe to say that the sauna stove burned a huge amount of wood during the week, as we had sauna every evening.
Luckily there was no shortage of wood.
As we hiked in the nature it was surreal to be surrounded by piles of snow, but still see open lake as well as closed slalom slopes.
Even though we did not get to enjoy the fun of downhill ski-ing or cross country ski-ing – we got to enjoy beautiful landscapes and nature experiences. I also managed to take a few really nice photos about those events.
The image above is from a night time walk in almost pitch black weather. Light source in the image is ski center’s parking place’s light – as we walked from the cottage to the ski center and back.
As we hiked to different places, we quite often remembered to take some snacks with us.
Drinking hot chocolate and watching these amazing landscapes just soothes ones mind.
And every time as we got back to the cottage, it was once again more eating, sauna and evening filled with fun and games.
This christmas we had more than few really great experiences, which did not get captured on memory card that well – but will live in memories.
For example it was a rare treat to get to go to a real smoke sauna at Koli – and experience difference in heat, smell, atmosphere and in the whole sauna experience compared to a normal sauna.
Second it was great fun to walk up the Koli ski slopes while the center was closed.
We have come down the slopes so many times and just taken the lift up, so it was fun to walk up and appreciate the next time we get to ski it down even more.
And here in the last picture you cal already see the hotel in the distance.
Safe to say we were kind a sweaty after the hike up the slope. Unfortunately iPhone photos don’t have the same depth as it was in reality.
Third experience I will not forget was our trial to get back to the cottage from the hotel after we had enjoyed some hot chocolate.
We did not want to walk the slopes back down, so decided to follow ready made nature paths – which would lead us down and close to the road that takes to the cottage. Unfortunately during the winter time paths are not that easily seen and so clearly marked – which meant that we got lost by choosing a wrong path and ended up doing an additional 3,5 kilometers hike in rough terrain on a sightseeing path around Koli ravine to get back to where we started. By then the weather and visibility was getting worse so we decided not to try to find the right path, but take a car ride back to the cottage.
All and all amazing christmas vacation in insanely great scenery. We got to see beautiful flow of Tarhapuro, went to see the views from Mäkrävaara – and got to drink hot chocolate once again at Ukkokoli. Hiking in snowy scenery was much more fun than skiing down the slopes for change – but I’m already looking forward for next christmas and open slopes.