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Atarra visits the land of Santa, magic and dreams, Lapland

Filed Under: Blog, Finnish Lapland, Winter Escapes

Posted on 15th Dec 2016

My Journey to Lapland

After a very pleasant 3-hour direct flight from Gatwick to Rovaniemi in Finland with Norwegian Air I had landed in a snow scape of Narnia and as I disembarked from my plane I didn’t know how profoundly Finland would enchant me. The air is so fresh albeit cold and filled with huge forests and thousands of lakes, with clean and natural surroundings it has such a calmative and soothing effect.

My flight was very early in the morning but the earlier the better because there is so much to see and do in Lapland, the land of Santa, magic and dreams. Rovaniemi is a true land of Christmas and the capital of Finnish Lapland on the Arctic Circle; a small city with a real buzz, modern shopping malls, bars, and restaurants and of course the hometown of the great man himself…. Santa Claus. This is where magic and fairy tales come together!

Tips for the cold weather

It was extremely cold, on some days it was -20 degrees and unbelievably snowy with dark nights but that is what one expects when visiting Lapland in the winter months. However, it’s amazing how you do get used to the cold and some very important tips…wear warm clothes and it’s all about the layers because in December the daytime temperatures generally range from 0 to – 20 degrees, but it can fall as low as -40 during a particularly cold spell. However, if like me you enjoy the relaxation of the warm water then do what the Finns love to do and indulge yourself in a sauna experience as there are many of these in Lapland. There is nothing more Finnish than taking part in a sauna experience as this is one of the ways to truly understand the Finnish way of life.

cropped snow 2

Arctic Treehouse Hotel

My home during my stay was the new Arctic Treehouse Hotel which opened its doors in November 2016. It is owned and managed by the same company as the SantaPark which is close by and is built on a hillside offering 32 individual cubic Studio rooms & Suites standing on stilts with wide north-facing panoramic windows and phenomenal views of the forest and skies. They also offer 5 Arctic Glass Houses with 2 bedrooms. The Nordic style rooms & suites are beautiful, snug with cosy interiors and the floor-to-ceiling window offer views of snow-covered trees right from your bed. They are well-heated, the beds are plush, comfortable and covered with mock furs and warm duvets. Children will love the alcove bunks!
The food was exquisite and the Arctic Treehouse Hotel provides a traditional Scandinavian buffet with a selection of healthy cuisine including reindeer, which I tried for the very first time and thoroughly enjoyed. As well as salmon soup, which is a Finnish delicacy, cranberry sandwiches, vegetables, salad, and the most amazing berry fruit desserts. Arctic berries are delicious and wherever you go you will find an abundance of bilberries, lingonberries and cloud berries.

Arctic TreeHouse Hotel 1

The man himself – Santa Claus

It was an action packed few days and remember, there is only one Santa Claus but he can be met in several different places in the town. I met the special man himself and his elves at the SantaPark and what fun it was! The SantaPark is also home to the official Santa’s Main Post Office which is an experience in itself as you can also learn about the history of Christmas traditions. Since 1985, Santa Claus’ Post Office has received approximately 17 million letters to Santa and during the past few years Santa has received more than 500,000 letters per year from approximately 200 different countries. From Santa Claus’s Post Office, you can also order a letter from Santa that will be mailed to surprise your child just before Christmas. SantaPark also has an array of other fun things to see such as the Elf Toy Work Shop, Santa’s Workshop; Gingerbread Kitchen; Sleigh Ride; Elf School; Elf Workshop the Christmas House Shop with its great selection of Lappish handicrafts. The restaurant here is glorious and there is a stage where you can immerse yourself in the Christmas magic shows. You must also visit Snowman World where you will meet three happy snowman siblings called Flake, Frost and Aurora! You and your family can enjoy the arctic outdoors; sliding down the ice hills, ice skating and ice sculpting and you can also experience the ice bar and ice restaurant. Other activities on offer in Lapland are snow mobiles, husky and reindeer Safari’s, ice fishing and many more. I was fortunate enough to do a Husky Safari and this was one of the best experiences of my life. Huskies are so passionate about running and that is why they are so eager to transport you off in their sledge. You can choose to drive the sledge or do what I did and sit in it whilst someone else drives you through the magical forest and the beautiful snowy scenery.

cropped atarra santa pic

A bit of Finnish Culture

One of the highlights of my trip was visiting the artisan workshop and home of Mrs. Irene & Mr. Ari Kangasniemi, who are such a humble and charming couple. They invite you into their traditional Lappish log-built private work shop and offer the perfect environment for making a personal souvenir of Lappish natural materials in their handicraft work shop. After the tour, they invite their guests into their home which is situated opposite the workshop to enjoy some kind hospitality and wonderful stories over tea, berry drinks and an array of Finnish cakes and sweets.

Oh, it was total magic from beginning to end and a trip of a lifetime for me so if my blog has tempted you to visit this wonderful destination and to step inside a fairy tale book then we will be waiting to hear from you so that we can bring the magic into your lives just like it was brought into mine.

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