It was love at first sight. Everything I have ever dreamed of and more. Soaring over snowy fields and white trees as I came into land, it felt like I was entering the magical winter wonderlands that you see in the movies. Rovaniemi in the Lapland region of Finland was my first time in snow and it was the most special place; a definite highlight of all my travels thus far.
Stepping out of the airport, I was greeted with white snow flakes covering me. My first time seeing and feeling snow! Coming from a city down under where it’s normally sunshine all year round, it was so odd being in this setting. But I loved it. It was so mesmerising just watching the snow fall from by the window.
A month ago, I had never heard of Lapland. When a family member mentioned having visited the place, I Google imaged it and automatically fell in love. What better place to go in Lapland than the home of Santa Clause in Rovaniemi, Finland!
My time in Lapland was spent trialling a variety of winter activities with my friend to experience how the Scandinavian locals live in this region. After all, who knows when I’ll be in snow next!
First off, snowshoeing, taboganning, kick sledding and ice fishing were on the agenda. Taboganning was so much fun and a highlight (except walking back up the hill). Ice fishing was a really unique experience. First we drilled a hole into a frozen lake, then removed all the ice and sat with a little fishing rod to hopefully catch some fish, unfortunately both unlucky.
Next, we tried snowmobiling. I was scared to ride it at first but it wasn’t hard at all to ride. It ended up being the most enjoyable snow activity. There was a section where I rode through a little snow storm and it was amazing! The scenery before my eyes was jaw dropping, as if I was in another universe. Husky and reindeer rides were next on the agenda of which I was especially excited about. It didn’t dissapoint. Meeting the huskies was so much fun. They were all so furry and friendly. The baby ones stole my heart with their soft skin.
I didn’t know what I was expecting cross-country skiing to be like, but I didn’t expect it to be so hard! I stacked it so many times and it took me a while to understand the technique. Nonetheless, it was an experience and going downhill at speed was loads of fun…until I stacked it into a pile of snow.
Last but not least before my bank account nearly had a heart attack, we went hunting for the Northern Lights and slept in a snow igloo! I saw the Northern Lights in Iceland last year so I was really hoping to catch another glimpse of them. Unfortunately, they were very weak and only visible slightly through the camera. Whilst waiting to see if they’d shine brighter later, we tried a Finnish New Year tradition of melting tin to predict the year ahead. It involved getting a horse shoe shaped piece of tin and placing it on a pan in the fire to melt. Once melted, we poured the tin all at once into a bucket of cold water, pulling out the resulting tin piece formed. From that, we interpreted what it meant to us based on the shape, feel of the metal and shadows casted in the light. It was such an interesting tradition I have never heard of before but was really cool to get superstitious and see what the future held. Also around the fireplace, we got to speak with the guides and learn about their lives in Lapland. Everything about their daily lives was so different to Australia. One random fact I learnt was that wolverines are actual animals, not just made up creatures!
Finally giving up the Northern Lights showing any brighter, we headed to the snow igloo (we didn’t make the snow igloo thankfully for the better) to sleep for the remainder of the night. I was dressed in multiple layers as I rugged up in the sleeping bag, but my face was a freezer. It was so cold, below -10°C (coming from Australia, this is freezing for us!). Suprisingly, I made it through the night uninterrupted and woke up feeling not too cold. My friend on the other hand had swollen, red feet and could not get them in her boots. It was nice to be reunited with warmth after that. I definitely could not live in the sub 30-40 degrees it reaches here in the thick of winter!
No visit to Rovaniemi would be complete without visiting the big man himself, Santa Clause. At Santa Village, we crossed the Artic Circle line. As we were there during off-peak time, it was quite deserted so we were able to see Santa straight away and get our picture….no one is ever too old for Santa!
Just like that, my not so cheap but worth every penny action packed adventure in Lapland was over too quick. I was not ready to leave. Lapland, you’ve stolen my heart and I can’t wait to visit you again one day.