Winter Wonderland – Lapland, Finland

Have you ever watched Chronicles of Narnia? Yeah, the movie where you walk through the cupboard and end up in this entire new world with only acres and acres of land filled with snow, probably slightly too white christmas trees and this one lamp pole in the middle of who knows where?

Well, Lapland in FInland is basically the real life equivalent of this imaginary world you have read about. Since it’s just slightly over two weeks till Christmas, here is a little throwback post to December 2013.

Two years ago, I travelled a good 9,335km to the north of Estonia (Finland) in attempt to tick seeing Aurora Borealis off my bucket list. I first flew to the capital of Denmark, Copenhagen and spent a few days there seeing the beautiful sights such as the Nyhavn. After which,  I flew to Helsinki before switching to the tiniest plane I have ever sat on to Lapland.

After checking into the hotel which I can’t remember the name of right now, our first stop was to the snow gear rental. There, we rented the largest outer one-piece, heaviest boots,  helmet and eye goggles. I felt like I was going for some intense survival of the fittest trek through the wilderness. But they were actually just for our reindeer ride, snow mobile drive and husky sleigh rides. To be fair, they kept me extremely warm throughout my stay there although they were definitely not winter wear you would see being shown on the runway during fashion week.

The first day of activities arrived, and after a hearty breakfast, I took the coach ride to what looked like the middle of nowhere apart from this cosy hut where they basically told us the back story about the reindeer and everything. To those who never knew reindeer existed, yes they do! There are many Rudolphs around.

After warming up in the hut, I headed back out into the cold and everything looked like added exposure because of how white the snow was. It was like any available area exposed was covered with layers of snow. I then went for the reindeer ride which was amazing, the reindeer were beautiful with huge antlers.

Later on that evening we went to Rovaniemi, which according to Google is “a city and municipality of Finland. It is the administrative capital and commercial centre of Finland’s northernmost province, Lapland.” or for short it was Santa Clause l. Yes, after 17 years of living, I finally visited the main man with his signature white beard, huge belly and HOHOHOs. If you’re like me who is obsessed with Christmas, I would highly recommend a visit when you get the chance. The village was filled with 15ft. tall christmas trees, beyond life-size snow mans, all you could want in a christmas store huts and basically all things festive.

Fast forward to the next day which was New Year’s Eve if I had not mistaken, I started the day with a once again the classic breakfast of toast, eggs, sausages, the usual. Before heading out to ride the four-wheel snow mobiles. Which was throughly loads of fun. Though it was a bit hard to see with your face basically freezing and turning to ice due to the wind. Once that was done, I went to another location (notice how I have no idea what any of the places are called? That’s because after a while, heaps of snows and pine trees all start to look the same to me.) to go husky sledding. It was my second time doing so, the first was in Alaska. But this time it was a little different. Unlike previously where all I had to do was sit and let someone else control the huskies, it was my turn to stand at the back of the sled and lead them myself.

As it is winter, the sun sets super early. By 4pm it was dark outside. So when it came round my turn for the husky sledding, I could not see past 100m in front of me and when it went into the forest, my sight basically went as far as the light from the torch on my head reached. Which was quite frightening, to be honest. Fortunately, these huskies have been going through this route tons of times so I trusted they pretty much knew where they were going. It was certainly quite an experience leading your own pack of 8 huskies. They were the most adorable dogs I have seen apart from my own, that is.

Once that was done we headed back and got ready for the most unusual New Year’s Eve countdown I would ever have experienced in my (at that point of time) 17 years of existence. We were hoping to see the Northern Lights but from what we heard, even the people who live there only get to see it at most fives times in their lifetime! So we knew the chances were slim to none. Instead, we settled for a snowy New Year’s Eve. It was sub-zero temperature when I was out playing about in the snow before dinner and just as I was playing around, I felt the wind start to slow down and I thought it was going to get less cold. Just then, it started to snow pretty heavily. We headed back out into a place that I know not the location of where we had dinner in this hut, surrounded by teepee that had activities for us to enjoy after dinner whilst waiting for the countdown to begin.  They even had a legitimate ice bar, it was not like the ones where just looked like ice but were really just man-made. This ice bar was just made from the snow and ice at the spot where they bartenders were standing at.

I spent the next few hours leading up to the countdown just playing around with the snow, it’s not often I got to experience such a countdown and I made sure I was soaking up the full experience. Pun-intended. I was soaked from the snow ball fights I had.

Before I knew it, the countdown begin “10, 9, 8, 7…..3, 2, 1 HAPPY NEW YEAR!” and a beautiful display of fireworks just for the few of us who were there that night.

Truly a unique and unforgettable vacation.

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