Lapland. The Northern Lights A-list hangout spot. Santa’s primary residence. Cute-ass Reindeers. Husky puppies. Do you need more convincing? One of the most expensive trips I’ve done to date but worth every single lousy Aussie-to-euro conversion! For those unsure of where Lapland is, it is Northern Finland, above the Artic Circle and yes, it does get a little bit colder than Canberra in the middle of July. And by cold I mean -17 is a warm day…… The coldest it got to whilst I was there was a manageable -22 but the average temperature for February is around the -30 mark.
DESPITE the cold you should still go. Seriously. It is like another planet; trees absolutely covered in thick snow, no sun in the middle of winter and sun 24/7 in summer, one step off a forest path and you’re in snow up to your arm pits, reindeer literally just wandering around, the real Santa, wood fire saunas- the list goes on.
Top of the list however, is the ability to see the Northern Lights (the Aurora borealis) if you’re lucky. I was lucky. Like very very lucky and as cheesy as it sounds it was literally the best night of my life. No photo can do to justice the way the lights literally danced above our heads and were really bright for 2 hours. The changing of the colours and multiple different strands joining together is just one of the most humbling, amazing things I’ve ever seen. My toes were actually a nice shade of blue by the time we got back to the cabin at 3am (they are strongest at midnight) and still can’t feel the big one but 100% worth it. Who needs the big toe anyway. Words can’t express the feeling/what they truly looked like but I simply urge you to get yourself to a country above the arctic circle one day and see for yourself.
Other cool things about Lapland
The official first stop of the trip was the Kemi Ice Hotel close to Rovenemi where people can actually sleep for the night if they are brave enough (and have recently robbed a bank $$). Everything is made out of ice – even the tables though the chairs are covered in Reindeer hind (like everything in Finland!)
And of course, who can go to Lapland without visiting the official Santa village. The 6-year-old within me was actually kinda dying with happiness. This Santa ain’t like anything you see in Westfield in December with his fan constantly on his face and his tacky beard. Nope, this guy was the real deal. Wasn’t allowed to take any pictures of him (due to Santa-Elf confidentiality policy contract stuff) but if you want your 6-year-old self’s dreams to come true, do the honest thing and go visit the old man.
Oh and I fed Reindeer and had a reindeer sleigh ride. Yep. Reindeer. Like Rudolph. Life is kind of complete.
Also got to lead a team of Huskys- yeah someone let untrained, slightly hungover, exchange students control a pack of very strong dogs. Not as hard as controlling your friends at Moose Heads after a few bev’s though.
If you can stomach the cost of Norway (around 20 Euros for a big mac ($35)…) and the cold you need to go. I was only there for a day but the views! Damn! Think deep blue ocean contrasted by very white snow and cute bright houses. We had a sauna on the beach and then ran into the Arctic Ocean as the ‘cool off’ before heading back into the sauna to get rid of the blue colour on your body. Fins are legit crazy but it makes the 90degree sauna feel amazing when you get back and you’ve swam in the Arctic Ocean – tick tick.
After this amazing trip and living off Rice Cakes and peanut butter, it was back to Helsinki and Uni life for the last month of exchange!
*(Update big toe now has some feeling in it and is no longer blue )