As long as I can remember I’ve been wanting to go to Lapland. As a little kid I sat on my father’s lap every morning, the both of us swaying along to the intro music of Nils Holgersson. You know, that cartoon series about a mischievous peasant boy who turns into a leprechaun and flies on the back of a goose to Lapland. 80s and 90s kids know what I’m talking about. And if not, then you really missed out. Sorry, not sorry. As if it was meant to be I befriended two Finnish girls during my minor in South Korea, one of which her parents have a holiday home in Lapland. After many trips to Delft, Paris and Helsinki, my boyfriend Chris and I decided late last year that it was time to visit Finnish Lapland. No sooner said than done. Two months later Chris and I, along with our great friends ‘drone’ and ‘camera’, hopped on the plane to explore Lapland and scout some really cool hotspots.
Castle Made of Ice
You can fly direct to Lapland, but you can also – as we have done – do part of the journey by car. The drive up to the northern part of Finland is in fact quite cool. We departed from the city Oulu in the direction of Muoni, a small village about one hour away from ski town Levi. Along the way, just come across the border of Lapland, a great ice castle called The SnowCastle can be found. Inside you’ll see the most beautiful decorations of snow and ice (how about a giant bookcase), the world’s largest ice restaurant (the potato-carrot soup is highly recommended), a wedding chapel and a hotel. Brrrr you might think when hearing the latter. But believe me, you’ll sleep on reindeer skins that will keep you warm during the harshest of temperatures.
Hugging with huskies
A visit to the Arctic Circle is not complete without a husky safari. Sitting under a warm blanket (or standing if you are the driver), the polar landscape flying by, while being pulled by – in my opinion – the most beautiful dogs in the world. Who wouldn’t want that? We made a tour of 5km with the beautiful huskies of Tundra Huskies Husky Farm in Levi, which was absolutely amazing. We had our sights set on a day trip, which it turned out you had to reserve far in advance even during the off season. Luckily theshorter trip is also a fantastic experience: wildly enthusiastic huskies, beautiful nature, grilling sausages and drinking hot berry juice, petting reindeers, and then when the dogs are tired of racing; a loving husky cuddle. An absolute must.
In Finland you have mountains that aren’t really mountains nor are they hills. My Finnish friends have tried to explain it to me one-hundred times, but a one-on-one translation simply just doesn’t exist. The closest comes the English word ‘Fell’. And therefore, my dear friends, I will introduce a new word into your vocabulary: tunturi. Personally, I would describe it as a very large mountain, which comes just above the tree line, but not of a size a la Everest. Why do I tell you this? Well tunturis which are ideal for skiing. Especially for beginners. You have lots of long runs, that are steep but not too steep. In Lapland there are several skiable tunturis. Levi, where we stayed nearby, has one of the largest skiable tunturi.
After all these winter activities, nothing is as relaxing as a warm sauna. Finns love saunas. Every house, apartment, school, office, you name it, has one. Someone once told me that in Finland, there are more saunas than people. There is one type of sauna that makes Finns extra excited: the smoke sauna. Bluntly put, it means that the sauna is heated for several hours with hot smoke. The smoke is let out and the heat remains. The Artic Spa Hotel Jerris Muonio has one of those smoke sauas. The spa is right next to an enchanting lake, which is partially frozen in winter. The real diehards go for casual swim in the lake, after which they relax in one of the heated pools. To be honest: I went in up to my knees and no further. Chris, real caveman that he is, of course went all the way in.
Text: Elise Mooijman, Pictures: Chris Reichard