Chasing the Aurora Borealis
Paul Swallow, from England, and Agnieszka Olek, from Poland, left their old life in London behind them. They decided to become Aurora Borealis entrepreneurs and moved to Levi. This is what their perfect day looks like in Levi.
9.00: LEISURELY BREAKFAST FOLLOWED BY SKIING
There is a barbecue kota hut and a brand new sauna cabin that has a terrace with a view of the Lapland forest in its purest form: delicate conifer trees and slow-growing birch trees. Paul Swallow pours himself a cup of coffee and puts on his sunglasses.
- It’s wonderful to be able to experience every season here as they are all very different. This is the first time we’re here in the spring and it’s beautiful”, says Paul’s wife Agnieszka Olek, or Aggie for short.
Paul and Aggie moved to Levi during the summer 2018 and ever since they have been developing and building their business Levi Foxfires. They offer private excursions for people who want to see the northern lights in a small group of their own. A sauna experience, foraging trips and a B&B are all parts of the business they are also developing.
14.00: COFFEE AND PASTRIES AT BAR KOTA
Paul and Aggie had been dreaming about making some chan-ges in their life and setting up a bed&break-fast was something they had in mind.
- Poland, Wales, Slovenia, France, Italy..., Paul lists the places they had thought about.
Now they are sitting in Bar Kota, their regular hangout in the centre of the small village of Levi.
- A couple of years ago when we came to Levi on a holiday, we felt that we had come home. We fell in love with the place immediately.
What fascinates the couple about Levi are the coniferous forests and the wilderness along with the variety of activities and the travel market that is already established.
15.00: OFF TO THE LEVI SUMMIT WITH THE DOG
- Look, juniper berries, says Aggie smelling the aroma of the berries that have remained green.
The couple loves to cook and cannot wait to go foraging for cloudberries, blueberries, lingonberries and wild mushrooms to cook and preserve. Last autumn Paul and Aggie asked the local priest who could they ask about wild mushrooms. He int-roduced them to a local woman who took them to the woods.
- We thought every Finn would be as reserved as Kimi Räikkönen but we’ve gotten so much help and new friends, Paul says.
Gooseberry, the Parson Russell Terrier, is running and sniffing around rocks wearing a hi-vis vest.
17.00: SAUNA JA SPA
Aggie and Paul have built their visitors a small spa in the yard: a traditional sauna cabin that has a terrace with a wood-fired hot tub. You can soak in it and toast, for example, with a sparkling drink made from spruce tips.
The land is surrounded by about four hectares of protect-ed forest so, at most, you might be watched by an occasional wild animal.
- The visitors can be here in peace and quiet. I’ll be in the kota hut and will check in on you only if you ring the reindeer bell.
Aggie and Paul are also building a house of their own on the property. There will be a few guest rooms, too, so they can host guests all year round.
19.00: DINNER AT FAVOURITE RESTAURANT
There they are. The glass igloos Aggie and Paul stayed in on their first visit to Levi. This time they are visiting the Levin Iglut Golden Crown’s restaurant Aurora Sky. It’s one of their favourites.
- We come here when we feel like dressing up nicely. The food is really delicious, too, Aggie says.
The upstairs windows offer a view to the forests and the wide open sky. You have a great chance catching the northern lights here when it’s dark.
Aggie tells that the winter and the polar night season was enchanting even if you didn’t see the Aurora Borealis. Even with only 4-5 hours of daylight, the horizon can shine in vivid red or pink candy floss hues.
23.00: AURORA BOREALIS TRIP INTO THE WILDERNESS
Usually Paul picks the clients up with his four-wheel at 8 pm. Since it’s April the sun sets just after midnight, so we set off a little bit later.
- About 85% of the trips we make, we get to see the northern lights. If, according to the forecast, it looks like it’s not going to happen, I’ll notify the clients in advance.
Paul chooses the route based on the weather forecast. If needed, he’ll drive the client all the way to Norway.
- Let’s go to my favourite spot, Paul says.
If you stop by the road, you can see wide open spaces. The moon is on one side of the sky and the sunset has taken over the other side with an orange sliver in the horizon.
It’s happens as if it’s a well-rehearsed play. The sky begins the show around half past midnight.
- Look up there, says Aggie pointing behind the spruce trees.
A green beam appears to be floating above the trees like a wispy cloud. Soon there are northern lights above the fells also. It’s like someone ignited a huge green bonfire that starts to spread.
The lights are dancing across the sky back and forth.
Paul and Aggie lean on each other staring at the sky. It’s completely silent.