Magic at Christmas

I believe in Santa Claus…

I grew up believing in Santa, Easter bunny, fairies and Elves…

I believe in magic… it is all in our hearts….

As a mother of 2, I had this dream to go and take my children to Rovaniemi in Finland to Santa’s home…

This year we made it… and it was worth every second… every sweat and every tear…

Rovaniemi is the north of Finland, at the artic circle… it is far, it is cold but it is STUNNING.

f

 

 

There are basically two ways to get there, either flying directly or taking the train from Helsinki. We chose the latter as we thought it would be an amazing experience to our kids to take the Polar express.

c

A quick comment on our arrival in Helsinki – it was Chaos… 22nd of December and Lufthansa managed to almost ruin our trip. Because our initial flight was late due to a shut down at Frankfurt airport, we missed our connection… all other flights were full, as you would expect at that time of the year…

 

We had a train to catch at 18:49 at Helsinki train station, so we needed to arrive prior to that…. after a lot of sweating at the huge line at Frankfurt airport and begging the attendant, we were put into a flight which technically would arrive 1 hour prior to the train departure… only if… only if, Lufthansa would deliver our luggage… BUT it did not…

So, having to file a report of a missing luggage which contained all my kids winter clothes made us miss the train… it was a desolate moment in our day but angels exist and one of them came from the sky into our rescue…

My husband and I decided to rent a car… to drive 900km in the middle of the night and the snow… but there was no cars available… so in the middle of my desperate tears, one of the attendants of the car rental shop asked what our problem was and we explained. He offered to take us, in his personal car, up to the next train stop after Helsinki… we run, I cried… and we boarded the train we had missed 45 minutes before…

I WISH TO THANK YOU A MILLION TIMES.

I WISH EVERYBODY TO KNOW THAT YOU SAVED MY FAMILY’S CHRISTMAS AND YOU DESERVE TO HAVE ALL THE HAPPINESS IN THE WORLD BECAUSE OF YOUR KINDNESS AND HELPFULLNESS.

We boarded the Polar Express. We were travelling with friends who also had difficulties with KLM but managed to board on time… it was a happy moment to know that we were going to make it.

 

The train is divided in cabins and normal seats. When we booked, although we booked at the day the tickets were released, we did not manage to get cabins on our way to Rovaniemi… all we had available was seats…

p

Well… it is not great but it is not as uncomfortable as flying economy for 12 hours. Actually I was surprised with the space. My kids and I managed to sleep comfortably.

 

The train has a restaurant wagon. We had dinner on board and the food was delicious… I know that we were hungry and angry souls after the journey Lufthansa made us have; but I assure you, the risotto was creamy and tasty as in a Italian restaurant.

At the station was easy peasy… There were plenty of taxis at the station and we had to run to one of those because my kids were not dressed with their main winter jackets as these were still flying somewhere with my favourite airline of all – Lufthansa.

 

As we drove to the Santa’s village, our noses were glued to the taxi window… it was all white…

mmmmmmmhhhhhhh

We are used to white snowed mountains, but it was all really white… there was a LOT of snow… and it was dark… although it was 9 am, it was still pitch dark outside…

In Rovaniemi at this time of the year, the sun rises at 11 and goes down at 13:30… and it never leaves the horizon… it is quite an experience to live 21 hours of darkness… At 4 pm, it seems to be midnight…

pp

Arriving at the village, we were mesmerized with the cottages and the Christmas lights and decorations… it was just like in our dreams…

k

Our cottage was super comfortable… we had our own Finnish sauna… It was -15 degrees outside so the sauna was super welcome.

nnn

The first day was quite quiet for us as we could not go out as my kids did not have clothes for those temperatures… we were still missing our suitcase… We took the time to sleep, eat, watch TV, and watch the snow fall outside… at this stage it was snowing heavily.

Our suitcase reached us quite late that day… which made us miss one of planned trips…. a safari into the Northern lights….

Next morning, we were all well rested and we had the full gear on to explore the village… We started by visiting Santa’s post office. Santa receives letters from all over the world and if you post a letter to Santa, it is to Finland where the post will sent it to…. We took the time to chose our post cards, and to write to our beloved family….

Then, we moved to Santa’s office… There, we had to queue a little to be able to meet Santa in person…. the great part of it is that the encounter is live and anyone in the world can watch it live through the internet. We had the chance to send the link to some of our friends and family members who could witness the kids emotion to meet Santa in flesh and blood…. I was very emotional too… I assure you he is GORGEOUS!

 

After that, lunch time… have you tried Reindeer’s burger???? OMG, it is YUMMY!!!

t

 

Next stop, Snowman’s world…. I was super curious to see the igloo restaurant, igloo hotel and igloo bar… it is really all made of ice… and it is cold…. my kids had fun sliding through the ice slides…. I watched freezing my bones….

 

Now it was time to rest as it was Christmas eve and we were to have dinner with Santa and the Elves at the Secret Forest…. Joulukka….

www.santaparkarcticworld.com/santa-claus-secret-forest

The Elves came to collect us at our hotel and drove us to the secret forest. There, we met even more elves… we learned elfish, we sang Christmas carols and danced under the stars around the fire at a temperature of – 25 degrees…  IT WAS HUGELY COLD… I CANNOT EVEN DESCRIBE… BUT IT WAS MAGICAL.

aa

 

The sky was open and the night was clean… at so low temperatures with no artificial light around us… what did we see??? NORTHERN LIGHTS!!!!

Pinch me, pinch me!!! Is it really true??? yes….

Wake up… Valentina… now it is time for dinner…. we were taken inside the hut for the Christmas eve dinner. Santa came to greet all families and to distribute presents to the kids… my kids were overwhelmed… Santa twice already????

a

 

 

Christmas dinner was a traditional Finnish meal… it consisted of loads of different fish, ham and vegetables… Elves were moving around the tables, playing with the kids and helping them to decorate a Christmas tree that they had just brought from the outside…

IT WILL BE VERY HARD TO BEAT THIS CHRISTMAS EVE….

Back to the cottage, we all went to bed with our spirits in magic mode…

But it not over yet…

Next morning, we went for a reindeer trip… The 4 of us embark in the sleigh and let ourselves be taken through another magic moment…. in the magic forest…

Meeting our friends, my daughter embarked into a snowmobile trip with her 6 year old friend… She is also only 6 but very sporty and fearless… She loved it… My little one, who is only 3, was very frustrated and crying for not being able to do it too…. my heart tells me that I will have many sleepless nights with these two kamikazes of mine.

The afternoon passed quick as I packed to go back to Helsinki… We took the time to go to the center of Rovaniemi and visit the Arktikum museum… very much worth the visit as it shows the life of the local population.

www.arktikum.fi/en/

tt.jpg

Also, my kids and husband spent a couple hours playing outside, sledging and building snowmen while I was preparing the luggage.

At 21:15, we embarked into the Polar express… this time in a sleeping cabin, back to Helsinki… The cabin’s are super comfortable and I strongly recommend it… I slept 10 out of the 12 hours journey…

b

I woke up but I will dream forever on my memories of this trip….

Hope you enjoyed and the spirit of Christmas be with you and your family… today and always…

g

xx Valentina

PS: Further posts on restaurants and Helsinki will follow.