Borneo & Hong KongApril 4, 2019
Greek IslandsAugust 22, 2020
Day 1 - Kittila
We arrived in Lapland via Helsinki to a flurry of snowfall, especially requested for our arrival. Our rental car was waiting directly outside the airport with the engine & heater turned on ready to go – God bless Finnish hospitality! We arrived at our beautiful log cabin just outside Levi just in time to get changed into our thermals and head out for dinner – Mexican fajitas of course!
Day 2 - Father Christmas
Today was the day we got to meet the ‘jolly bearded one’ but we had a pretty full agenda to get through first. We travelled around 20 minutes north of Levi to a remote location in the forest adorned with twinkly lights and complimentary elves. After a spot of ice fishing where we caught a rather handsome perch, we enjoyed kick-sledding, snow-shoeing and snowmobiling before retiring to a cozy ‘kota’ hut with a roaring log fire to enjoy warm berry juice and grill some sizeable Finnish sausages. We were then offered the opportunity to enjoy fat biking which wasn’t on our ‘must-do’ list but we had paid our money and as they say ‘when in Rome…’
After conquering the fat bike, we were ushered into a pretty cabin in the forest for our private meeting with the big fella. I can indeed confirm that he had a broad face and a little round belly, that shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly (90% sure on the last one)! He was happy to chat for as long as we desired and the kids (unfortunately only 1 believer left out of the 3) were captivated especially when he sang them a Christmas song – a pretty darn perfect first day in Lapland.
Day 3 - Christmas Eve
Today was dedicated to the strange sport of hurling ourselves at the highest speed imaginable down a steep icy bank on a thin sheet of plastic, AKA sledging! What fun this simple past time can be! We tried forward, backwards and head first before progressing to the rather daring stand-up sledging that had a tendency to hurl you off your transport vessel at an alarming angle for maximum bruising. Naturally, we spent almost all day enjoying this activity and Santa even popped by to check on our progress.
In the evening, we headed to the beautiful Northern Lights Ranch located deep in the wilderness for our Christmas Eve dinner. With the resident reindeer grazing outside the window this was as Christmassy as it gets and was further enhanced by another impromptu visit from Santa & the ever-cheerful Mrs Claus with yet more singing and gift giving along the way. This it appeared was a Christmas Eve never to be surpassed!
Day 4 - Christmas Day
This morning we headed out on a 10km husky safari through the beautiful pine forest around Köngäs. Our sled was pulled by five extremely enthusiastic huskies with the peace and quiet only momentarily disturbed by said doggies pooping as they ran – quite an extraordinary feat!
After feeding the reindeer, it was time to return to our cabin to attempt a traditional British Christmas dinner with Finnish ingredients – Google translate has never been so handy! There were no turkeys so we had to resort to chicken (we think) and ice-cream for pudding but we managed to present a pretty passable version and a Christmas feast was enjoyed by one and all. Afterwards, we enjoyed a movie marathon of Home Alone, Home Alone – Lost in New York and Jumanji with a few momentary snoozes in between.
Day 5 - Boxing Day
After a leisurely lie-in, it was time to jump in the car and head towards Ylläs and the storybook fantasy world of the Snow Village. Each winter, the village is rebuilt from scratch, recently around a ‘Games of Thrones’ theme, and is an ice sculpting extravaganza. Inside you will find an ice chapel, ice slide, ice restaurant & bar where you can enjoy a peppermint vodka served in an ice glass (naturally) as well as around 20 individually sculpted bedrooms where each night high paying patrons get to snooze in a hessian sleeping bag on a bed of ice. Brrrr!! The attention to detail is astounding and the sense of solitude in the surrounding pine forest complete (except if you have talkative kids like ours!)
Back in Levi, we hit Taco Cowboy for bizarrely our 2nd Mexican culinary experience of the week.
Day 6 - Ski Slopes & Reindeer Sleigh Ride
We had previously dabbled with the slopes on our sledges but today was the day for full immersion. We got kitted out in our gear and headed over to the ski slopes doing the strange ski boot walk. We had booked the boys in for a private snowboard lesson with a lovely Finnish instructor and the rest of us hit the ski slopes with only x1 major face plant all day – result! The weather today was clear blue skies and the views of the surrounding forests and fells from the top of the ski slopes were truly magical.
In the afternoon, we sleighed into the forest pulled by quite possibly Dasher or Donner but most definitely not Rudolph (the nose gave it away). I must admit, I do love a reindeer with their matted horns that stand like a fanciful hair-do on top of their head. We alighted our sleigh for a bowl of salmon soup and a spot of shoe-shoeing through the forest. Our legs would most definitely be aching this evening!
Day 7 - Ski Slopes Part II
The day of pain! We awoke to find temperatures had dropped to -17 degrees and a meddlesome wind was doing a grand job of relieving the pine trees of their heavy load. Our final day was spent at Levi south point where we perfected our ski turns and had our faces slapped numerous times with an icy blast of Arctic air. The ski run from the top of the slope was kicking up a snowstorm and I did a grand job of skiing, quite literally blind, to the bottom without bouncing off any trees, pylons or other skiers along the way.
Our final evening in Lapland was spent eating the finest pizza and reminiscing about our fabulous Christmas break in the magical land of snow, ice & elves.