With Christmas around the corner (85 days and counting), Thomson Product Manager Claire Goldring looks back at a visit to meet Santa in Saariselkä…
Call me Scrooge, but I don’t think Christmas 2013 is going to live up to 2012. Bear with me. You see, back in December last year I set off on a trip to Lapland. And once you’ve been to the home of Christmas at Christmas, well… let’s just say a bit of tinsel and a Turkey dinner doesn’t compare.
The fun started as soon as I stepped foot on the plane. Never before have I seen so many excited children in such a confined space, and the cheery cabin crew – complete with Santa hats – encouraged us all to join in with renditions of Jingle Bells and Frosty the Snowman.
Touching down at Ivalo Airport we were greeted with stunning views of snowy wilderness and pine forests. And with the thermometer reading -9 degrees Celsius (which is actually quite mild for the time of year) I was thankful I’d come prepared with plenty of layers, a thick ski jacket, gloves and a hat.
From the airport we made our way to Saariselkä – a traditional Lappish village. I had already been to Levi and Rovaniemi, which are further south, but Saariselkä is my favourite when it comes to looks – the place is unbelievably pretty. I checked in to Hotel Snowflake (my room came complete with its own sauna, which I planned to make the most of later) and headed to the bar for a glass of mulled wine by the fire.
Later that night we went for dinner at Siberia restaurant in the centre of the village. As I tucked in to a 9-course dinner (which included the freshest scallops and salmon I’ve ever tasted), I looked up to see celebrity hairdresser Nicky Clarke sat at the next table. And he’s not the first celebrity to walk through the doors – my dinner guests informed me the restaurant was featured in an episode of Made in Chelsea the previous year.
The next day we drove to Santa’s Resort, which is in the forest just outside Saariselkä. After wrapping up in a cosy snow suit, I was ready to test out some activities. First up was a husky ride where I whizzed through the snow in a sleigh pulled by a pack of lively Arctic dogs. Next was a more leisurely ride on a reindeer sleigh, and finally it was time for snowmobiling – a chance for me to take the reins and zoom through the forest as fast as I dared.
And then it was on to the main event – meeting the big man himself. We travelled by sleigh deep into the woods, pulled up at Santa’s log cabin, and I took a seat beside him to run through my wish-list. And that’s my one and only regret from my visit to Lapland last Christmas. Why oh why didn’t I ask Santa for a return trip?
Take a look at our Lapland holidays here.
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Author: El Berwick
Published: September 30, 2013
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