Our second day in Lapland was a free day; we had to organise our own activities.
Even if you don’t do any of the paid-for activities (Northern Lights chasing, Snow Mobile Safari, Skiing, Snow Shoeing, Reindeer Safari and Husky Safari are all offered), you will easily be able to spend a day playing in the snow, tobogganing, and if you are staying at the Holiday Club Hotel, swimming in the pool.
Breakfast is served from 7-10am and it was okay. There was a selection of cold meats, vegetables, fruit and cheese, bread, chocolate donuts (!), some cereals and yoghurt, and some hot options; powered scrambled egg, something fishy and the ubiquitous meatball and cocktail sausage mix! There was also a couple of domestic 2 slice toasters and a waffle maker that could make one every 3 minutes; unsurprisingly there were often queues for these things!
So although no one is going to starve, don’t visit Lapland expecting an unparalleled gastronomic experience.
For us, the game plan was to have breakfast, get into our snowsuits and muck around in the snow for a bit, go for a swim, have some lunch and then go on a Reindeer Safari at about 3:30pm.
There was plenty of snow to play in. We spent an hour running around the snow drift between the car park and a small road/ path. We made snow angels, and tried to make snowmen and snow balls but the snow was not sticky enough. It was completely different to the snow I’ve seen in the UK, and was coming down as perfect little snowflakes, just like you see in movies. It was pretty cool.
It was about -6C, and it took an hour before we started feeling the cold. My camera worked fine and the battery didn’t drain too quickly, I could even comfortably take off both pairs of gloves and use my bare hands for a minute before they got too cold.
Eventually we all had enough of the white stuff, so we headed inside, stripped off and put our wet stuff in the excellent drying cabinet above the loo ( Tip: Put the toilet lid down before loading or unloading it, just in case….), got into our togs, donned the towelling robes provided and headed down to the pool.
You have to take your own towels from your room and get a locker ‘key’ from reception but once you are organised, it’s all pretty good. The pool was 30C which was plenty warm enough for us all, but the pool staff are pretty strict. You MUST shower before you swim, we were all sent back by the lifeguard because we didn’t have wet hair, and DD2 was reprimanded a couple for times for yelling and screaming, and coming down the water slide too close to her sister. The waves get switched on for 2 minutes on the hour, there is a water chute, an upstream river, a couple of jacuzzis, a lovely little kids’ pool and plenty of floatation aids available for use while swimming. We only had time to get to the pool this once, which was a pity as we all enjoyed this pool. The roof is glass, and it is a bit weird to be swimming while you can see snow falling above you!
After swimming, it was lunchtime. We went to the hotel restaurant where DH and I had a good sized pizza each ( mine was salmon, his was reindeer!), and the kids had hamburgers and chips. We all had a drink and it came to about £10 each for the kids, and £15 for us, so not really as bad as we expected.
There was time for a little Nintendo assisted rest in our rooms, then got everyone into their layers and suits. This takes at least 5 minutes per child, possibly 10 minutes for smaller, uncooperative kids. Then don’t forget to allow some time for you to find everything, and dress yourself. So make sure EVERYONE has been to the toilet before they get dressed. It’s a real bummer trying to go to the toilet with all those layers on.
The Reindeer Sleigh ride was 25 minutes from the hotel and we were picked up by a Sami gentleman called Visa. He drove a mini van at exactly the same speed that I would drive The Bus up the A40. Except we weren’t on a dual carriageway, we were on a narrow, ice and snow covered B road, surrounded by snowdrifts and trees. As far as I could tell, this was par for the course with all the driving we saw in Lapland. I can only assume they have different tyres on their cars!
When we got to the Reindeer, we were bundled into sleighs; one adult and 2 children per sleigh. There was one reindeer pulling each sleigh, and they were in a convoy. The pace was slow and it was already dark, so it was a rather sedate half hour ride.
We had our Mycoal foot and hand warmers so were quite comfortable. The only slightly disturbing thing was that sometimes the reindeer behind you came up quietly alongside your sled, and in my case provided me with a fine pair of antlers of my own when I attempted to take a self portrait.
We also had the excitement of a ‘wild’ reindeer following us for a bit. All of the reindeer in Lapland belong to a Sami tribe, whether they are fenced in and used in harness, or wandering around free in the forest.
Finally, we completed the circuit and were invited into a traditional Sami Huts called a Cotta; It was kind of like a tee pee made of wood. In the middle there was an open fire, and around the outside were two rows of seats, we sat on the outer row and used the inner one as a table, from which we drank hot berry juice and ate gingerbread biscuits. One of the Sami talked to us about their lifestyle, which is still pretty traditional by today’s standards. What impressed us most was the news that there were bears and wolves living in the woods we had just travelled through. I was glad we found that out after, not before, our sleigh ride.
Then it was back to the hotel, in time for dinner at around 6pm, and bed at 8pm. It was harder to get everyone to sleep that night, as the rooms were so warm and we weren’t so tired, but eventually we all managed.
We had to be on the bus at 10:30 the next day, in order to to visit the Activity Centre, so we set our alarm for 9am, so breakfast wouldn’t be a rush.
( To Be Continued)