In the beginning of February, we looked at the temperature in Saariselkä, a little village up north located in the Lapland of Finland, it was -37 Celsius Degrees… we were frozen already and we had not even arrived there!
Our best bet was to stock ourselves up quickly with the right clothes to stand such coldness! We did a thorough research on how to dress up properly, and after that, we became THE experts! So this is what we learned: please read THE ultimate list: How to dress up properly for EXTREME COLD?
After having all of the equipment, we flew from Amsterdam to Helsinki with Finnair- where we got introduced to berry juice, our favorite drink for the next couple of days! We stayed for a night in a hotel which was closed to the Vantaa Airport, as the next day we would be leaving for Saariselkä in the early morning.
The next day we departed and the plane landed, so we got off the plane only to find out that to our surprise that had not been the right stop! Apparently, it was a two stop flight! (believe it or not…). So we got on the plane again, as we sure did not want to stay in Kittilä! After 30 minutes we landed in Ivalo… our final destination!
We took a bus to Saariselkä, and that is when we stayed perplexed! This was just like WINTER WONDERLAND! It does not get whiter than that! No wonder why Santa’s village is in here!
Everything was covered in snow! There were no roads (at least not visible, ha ha), no trees left uncovered, it was like infinite whiteness surrounding us.
It looked peaceful and serene, it gave the sensation of an infinite white horizon. Incredible! We had never seen so much snow in our entire lives, for us it was truly a gift from nature. More like… winter paradise! As opposed what is usually seen in Hollywood movies being shot at the ocean and beach, THIS was vacation paradise for us! No heat and all peace, all SNOW! But still.. we were terrified about the cold! We were about to step out of the bus and face extreme coldness!!!
After arriving in Saariselkä, we immediately headed out to book the activities that we wanted to do for the next couple of days- all covered up. We booked the Husky ride with Top Safaris and the Reindeer sled with Lapland Safaris. Actually, this establishments were just a 5 to 7 minute walk from our place, but it took us more than an hour to reach there, as we could not contain ourselves from throwing our bodies into the huge piles of snow! Jack was just throwing himself and climbing into the snow, while Beca was jumping into the piles of snow and shooting pictures non stop like if she were a professional photographer, while Jaime was just convinced that what he thought would be a waste of a trip turned out to be one of the best trips in his life!
Snow angels and snow ball fights could not have had a better setting, even snow writing and snowman building! We felt joy! It was not that cold, it was around -6 Celsius degrees, but happiness made us so active that we felt the warmth all over, it was like if joy would be making us warm from our hearts out! The fear was gone… we were no longer afraid of the cold.
We woke up the next morning to this…
and hurried to grab the excursion! A Sami person – which are the indigenous people to this region, and apparently the only indigenous people left in the European Union- came to pick us up and took us to the Reindeer farm in Rovaniemi.
We got there and for the first time in our lives we got to see reindeers, yes! Santa’s companions. Jack and Beca went into one sled and Jaime went on one alone. The sled was being pulled by the reindeer and we were slowly moving into the woods which were nothing else but an infinite white horizon fully covered by snow. We enjoyed it a lot, and after we finished the ride we went inside of a Sami family’s house to learn more about their culture and they explained more to us about reindeers, of course that the berry juice could not have been missing! We were given warm berry juice to warm ourselves up after the cold ride. We even got reindeer’s drivers licenses valid for 5 years!
After the reindeer ride it was time for snow riding! We headed up to Ski Saariselkä, were Jaime was going to do skiing for the first time! It was Jack’s first time skiing in real snow too, since he was already skiing but only indoor- in Landgraaf, a place close to Maastricht, The Netherlands. Beca had not done snowboarding since 2007 in Nagano, Japan. All in all, we all did great! Jaime learned the basics of skiing and Jack did an amazing job! They went more for cross country skiing though, while Beca went up the mountain… with only a small fall, she managed to rock the mountain! The views up there were amazing!
After the long day we went to grab dinner, Jack enjoyed grilled salmon-after all, we were in Finland- as every other night while in there, he devoured it like if it were candies! He even ordered second portions every night… While Jaime decided to order reindeer! Not being enough having the poor guy pull him in the sled during the morning… our stomachs were upset because of the idea of eating reindeer, and we left the plate almost untouched. We did eat berries though… with caramel! and they were delicious and acid! It was a sweet and sour experience! We decided to stick to fish for the coming days 🙂
We payed a visit to the only supermarket in the area, and Beca found the most delicious way to eat licorice! It was in a raspberry and licorice white chocolate!!!
We began the next day by riding husky sleds!
It was a nice and unique experience! They pull quite fast! especially when we crossed the huge frozen lake. We could fill the adrenaline warming up our bodies and the cold air hitting our cheeks! Jaime and Beca took turns to drive the husky sled, while helping them pull by pushing with one leg…
We had dinner at a delicious restaurant called Panimo, we enjoyed the most delicious creamy salmon soup ever! Then we strolled around some shops which of course were filled with Marimekko things, a famous Finnish brand! And Jack was happy because he could see Moomin figurines everywhere!
We went Aurora Borealis hunting in Inari, but unfortunately they were missing in the sky! We were very sad about that, but the weather was bad and we knew it was unlikely for us to see them… it was simply not our luck. However, we got to enjoy the inside of some real igloos and more warm berry juice in the middle of the night.
We had THE most Finnish experience ever! ha ha, Marimekko, Moomins, the warm wooden Sauna, Berry juice, salmon and snow!
Thank you Finnish Lapland for such an amazing experience! After all… fear was just in our minds, it was not real! We stopped fearing coldness… and we learned that there are no impossibles, we would have never thought that we would ever be able to visit the north pole, it seemed very distant! but in the end we guess that in life there are no really impossibles, and the limits are no others but the ones that we set to ourselves!