“If you live an ordinary life, all you will have is ordinary stories.” Those were the sharp yet truthful words of Aurora Lane, played by the stunningly gorgeous, Jennifer Lawrence in the movie, the Passengers. So here’s a rundown of my extraordinary experiences from Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland!
Why travel to Finland?
I am a 40 year old kid who’s greatest thrill in life includes creating priceless memories around the world, finding a perfect winter getaway, and to absolutely savour moments to bits with my itchy feet and adventurous soul. It must be the Southeast Asian boy in me who grew up sans snow, in our beloved country, The Philippines, where a climate that drops below zero is a non-existent, or a rarity. Probably, it’s the restless Overseas Filipino worker in me who extremely deserves to take a pause from all the routinary activities at work in UAE, and trade it temporarily with extraordinary pleasure and unforgettable leisure. It must be an innate talent, or perhaps, an acquired skill or simply, a personal fascination, if not, a passion to cultivate a year-long anticipation to travel to a country with subnormal temperature, and to eagerly look forward to experiencing fun during colder season.
While most people have developed immense aversion to take trips and go on a holiday under a gloomy winter weather, when towing and dragging heavier luggages that contain thick warmers and a ton of jackets are a petpeeve for others; when some dislike experiencing snow and snowfall, I ardently hope every year, to plan my journey to a place that’s new to my senses, where there are shorter days and longer nights; to a destination where I will be forced to wear layered clothing, and sip more cups of coffee and warm tea than usual.
Indubitably, I find joy in winter, and bliss in snow. I become even more excited to experience white Christmas and extra pleased to go to a winter wonderland!
Of all the many countries with snow-capped mountains and winter season, why go to Finland? I say, why not?!
And so following my weeklong separate trips to cities in Russia and Georgia back in 2015, I was stoked to give my decision of going to Rovaniemi and Helsinki in Finland (Tallinn in Estonia and Riga in Latvia) this winter of 2016 a strong and firm nod, and a flashy green light!
Why join tours of Lapland Safaris?
After I became completely decided to travel from my current home base in Dubai to Helsinki and Rovaniemi, it dawned on me the urgent need to make up my mind for the itineraries and activities.
I succumbed to the fact that I will never enjoy Lapland without aid of professional tour guides. I surrendered to the idea of ditching my usual -Do-It-Yourself-travel-attitude, and easily gave in to participating to one of Lapland Safaris’ reasonably priced winter package tours.
Here are top 5 reasons how Lapland Safaris made my trip memorable :
1. They prioritise safety at all times. I flashed a wide smile on my face after I confirmed that the staff of Lapland Safaris put utmost care and concern to their clients’ safety. They make sure the weather and temperature are suitable for the youngest and the oldest tourists in the group. They explain relevance of wearing proper outdoor winter gears in simple terms, and provide appropriate attires from head to foot. They taught everyone how to go about each activities with simple instructions, with emphasis on safety and precautionary measures. Everything was made simple and comprehensible. Even listening to their instructions was fun!
2. They observe professionalism and friendliness. They start activities on time, observe punctuality and maximise the precious time of having only 4 hours of sunlight per day during winter, without worries an no rushing. They are interactive with all participants, and they were always ready to reply to every query about the day’s planned activities and itineraries. They were never intimidating, but rather friendly and warm amidst the weather that necessitates scarves, gloves and comforting thermal jackets.
A Lappish woman who provided intro to their culture & lifestyle with humour & fun!
3. They provide the most fun filled adventures! Joining Lapland Safaris and availing their 6-hour-Santa Claus Safari Tour made my ultimate white Christmas in winter wonderland dream come true! How could I say no to driving snowmobile, riding a reindeer sledge, meeting Santa Claus and crossing the Arctic Circle after sending postcards from Santa Claus’ official main post office? They also have Northern lights adventure and other interesting activities.
With stretched legs on the sledge; like a boss!
4. They’re humorous yet informative. While sharing facts, myths, legends, beliefs, culture and tales of Lappish people, there was never a dull moment during the entire day tour. I kid you not.
5. They serve the best, if not the most tasteful local meals on the buffet spread, that are included in the tour package. Those unlimited plates of beef meatballs and fluffiest mashed potato with gravy are one of the best versions I’ve tasted thus far. Even my taste buds were happily satisfied!
They gave us license to drive (not to fly!) a reindeer sledge valid for 5 years! Yey!
Just when I thought the day would end after meeting Santa Claus and driving snowmobile back to Lapland Safaris’ office, we were told we need to hop on the bus and they will take us to Santa Claus Village which is located 8 kilometers away from the City Center. Hooray!
There are a lot of things to do in Santa Claus Village :
- You can send postcards and mails that will be marked by official stamp of the Arctic Circle and Official Main Post Office of Santa Claus!
- You can visit Santa Claus again in his office.
- You can buy wonderful souvenirs particularly local handicrafts & Christmas decors!
- You can visit and play with the huskies at Husky Park.
- You can cross the line at the Arctic Circle and be certified for that momentous milestone!
- You can have your passport stamped by official mark of Arctic Circle at the Info Office for only 0.50 Euros!
- You can eat local food and drink hot wine, or warm tea or coffee.
- You can play with your kids in the snow for free!
*Take note that if you’re not on a package tour, either you take taxi cab (around 25 – 30 Euros) or bus #8 to reach the Santa Claus Village from your hotel or from City Centre.
That one of a kind post stamp from Arctic Circle & Santa Claus Post Office!
Sent these postcards to my colleagues, friends, family & even 1 for myself!
Letters to Santa Claus are received by the elves & segregated by country of origin.
Jot down that Santa Claus mailing address; you got 365 days to send your letters to him!
Besides the stamp from Machu Picchu in Peru, I’ve got from Arctic Circle! Yey!
Of course, I got certified for crossing the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland!
That’s Santa Claus’ Office and the line that marks the Arctic Circle!
Massive thank you, Lapland Safaris!
No matter what superlative I use to describe my experiences in Rovaniemi, regardless how long I try to narrate about those moments in Lapland, the reality is a countless times better; you have to experience it yourself! The place is magical, experiences are surreal and every minute is a sensory feast!
For more details, kindly read my article published on Lapland Magazine via this link :
*Although my Santa Claus Safari was sponsored by Lapland Safaris, this entire article, including my opinion, insights and photographs were my own, and were never influenced by anyone.