Has winter in your neck of the woods left you disappointed yet again and you've finally decided to head to Finland next year to experience proper snowfall and cold for once? Well, I don't blame you! In fact, winter on Norway's west coast doesn't exactly last long either so I'm totally planning to re-visit Finnish Lapland as well!*
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Seriously though, I only spent 3 days in the snowy forests and fells of Ruka-Kuusamo last month but I had the time of my life! I've never seen a more precise definition of "winter wonderland" before - sorry Tromsø, but it's true!
So, to recap my time in Finnish Lapland, grab a cup of coffee, sit back and let me take you on a virtual journey down memory lane!
Waking up in the cabin of my dreams
Our first night in Ruka-Kuusamo was spent at Isokenkäisten Klubi - a beautiful lodge cabin close to the border of Russia. The hotel is run by two sisters and their family, who prepared absolutely delicious meals for us and told us more about Finnish culture.
Early morning walks in the snow
The lodges of Isokäisten Klubi are situated by a lake and forest and I've hands-down never seen a more peaceful hotel before. I spent the entire morning strolling around and taking in the views, and wish I could have stayed longer!
Cuddles with Big Boy and his friends
No visit to Finnish Lapland is complete without a reindeer cuddle! We visited Palosaari Reindeer and Fishing Farm and got to cuddle with Big Boy and his friends. Or rather, attempted to cuddle. Somehow, the little fellas were only interested in me as long as I had moss in my hand...
Morning tea with a view
On our second day in Ruka-Kuusamo, we visited Pohjolan Pirtti (or Santa's Cottage as the place is also called) to spend a day like a Finn. Apparently, Santa Claus and your average Finn like to spend their morning tea with a hell of a view - and I could have gotten used to that!
Going for a walk on a frozen lake
While we did visit in January, the Finnish winter this year has been quite mild, so not all lakes in the country (or even in Finnish Lapland) were safe enough to be walked on just yet, but we were allowed to walk close to the shore and take in the magical views at Santa's Cottage. He really does live at a magical place...
Enjoying the first rays of sun of the year
While the weather during our time in Helsinki was rather dull and grey, Lapland totally delivered and we got to enjoy one of the first rays of sunshine of the year - after 3 winters with polar night in Tromsø, that's still a very special time for me!
Pretending to be a pro at winter sports
Alright, if you've read about my experience trying cross-country skiing for the first time and ending up in the roadside ditch, you can't be fooled - I'm not really good at winter sports (or any sports for that matter) but I at least gave it a try in Ruka-Kuusamo. After all, the area is famous for its winter sports and Ruka is one of the biggest ski resorts in all of Finland.
So I ended up getting my first lesson in downhill skiing (after over 3 years of living in Norway - oops!) and tried my hands at ice-climbing - the latter not going really well but at least I'm hooked to learn alpine skiing for real now.
Have you ever been to Finnish Lapland? What are some of your best memories from the trip?
Tell me in a comment below!