First of all, Happy New Year everyone!! I hope you had a blast celebrating? My boyfriend and I had dinner at his parents’. We unwrapped some presents, counted down those last seconds and watched fireworks. For this first post of the year, a throwback to my (magical) time in Lapland seemed suited.
DAY 1: ROVANIEMI
We stayed at this cute and pretty isolated place in Rovaniemi (uhu! the official hometown of Santa Claus) called Korvala. It’s a place that has these typical cottages at the side of a very big lake. A very big frozen lake with ice of about 1,5m thick and covered by a big blanket of snow. I can’t even begin to explain how beautiful it was.
Fun to know: they have these kind of sleeping cottages at about every 10km next to the main road because back in the old days, they decided that everyone who was on the road should have the chance to warm up a bit, have something to eat and maybe a bed to sleep before continuing there journey. The place we stayed at was one of those ‘relaxing points’.
After we where settled in in our cottage, we went out to see some of the huskies and reindeers they had on the property. They were so adorable. Especially the little ones. If there would’ve been enough room in my bag, I would’ve definitely taken one with me! Now, we didn’t only see them, we also did a husky and reindeer ride. Something you just need to do!
Day 2: PYHÄ
The next day we went to Pyhä, where we walked through the National Park. Because there weren’t really tracks because of the snow, we can talk about a true challenge. Stairs were covered by snow and turned into sliding ramps. Lots of tripping, sliding and falling happened. So lots of laughing as well. In the middle of the walk we came across a frozen waterfall, and yes, I licked it! I just had to. Looking back, this maybe wasn’t the best idea seeing how the ice was quite yellow/green/brown.
A bonfire with marshmallow, music and drinks. Something you just need to do when going to Lapland! And in the meanwhile hoping you will see the northern lights.
DAY 3: OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES
Our third day was fully booked with outdoor activities. Cross country skiing, a ride in the woods with a snowmobile and playing (and falling) like a 6 year old. We were exhausted at the end of the day and had snow in places we didn’t want snow. But nothing beats that feeling than when you enter a typical large cabin with a big open fireplace and large tables covered with candles and a typical Lappish meal (Sautéed reindeer with mashed potatoes and berries). Followed by a sauna visit and a plunge into ice water or rolling on the snow.
DAY 4: THE ARCTIC CIRCLE
While there are several countries in the Arctic Circle, only Finland has a major city at this latitude: Rovaniemi. It marks the southern boundary of the Arctic region which is mostly known for its nightless summer nights and sunless winter days.
A must-do during your arctic experience is a visit to the Santa Claus Village and crossing the Arctic Circle. It maybe sounds a little lame, but once in a while, we all wanna feel a little kid again. Right? So like Nike would say: Just Do It!
Santaaa! Hell yeah, we saw him. I even sat next to him!
The Northernmost Mcdonalds
Before getting on the train back home again, we went to the northernmost McDonald’s in the world. How cool is that?! Needless to say, everything tasted the same like in any other McDonald’s restaurant.
So there you have it: a visit to the (real) Santa Claus Village, sledging with huskies and driving a snowmobile, sinking through a thick layer of snow (both by foot and with that same snowmobile), and those little red cabins with saunas. Yup Lapland is pretty awesome alright. Although we were one week late to see the Northern Light, this trip was epic.
Pictures by Jan Van Brakel, Stephany Van Poecke, Aydin Kintziger and myself