Where Magic Happens: Lapland, Part 1

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The winter really has come since my last blog post. And can you imagine welcoming winter in a better place than Finnish Lapland?
I mentioned the trip of the year in some of my previous posts. This was it! It lasted less than a week, but I can certainly say it was the best trip of my life! I did some things I have never ever imagined I would do. And for the most of the time it really did feel like magic. Like living in a fairytale. Considering the fact that it is the very home of Santa and his little helpers – that's not strange at all!

Lapland is perfect. It has probably never crossed your mind as a possible destination for a vacation, but please, consider it! It is beautiful and different. Trust me, I am not a winter lover, so it has to be absolutely wonderful because it swept me away! And I wasn’t even bothered by the fact that sun rises at about 10 AM (in early December, that is, when I was there – soon it won’t rise at all) and sets at about 1 PM – there is something magical about that, too. The temperature of minus 16 degrees wasn’t a problem either. As the Norwegians say – I might have already said this before – there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing! So all that was left for me was pure joy of new experiences. And oh, how much I enjoyed!

Beautiful Lapland nature

On the map below you can see our route: point A is Joensuu, the town I live in. Next point is Santa Claus Village in the Arctic Circle, near Rovaniemi. Yes, I met the real Santa!!! (As real he can be, of course. But hey, you’re never too old to believe in this good guy, are you?!) Point C is Levi, the ski resort where we stayed, and the last point is Skibotn in Norway, where we headed only to see the Arctic ocean and swim in it. I did that too. We also visited two supercool places near Levi – more in the next post.

Our first stop on the way to Levi was Ranua Wildlife Park. This wildlife park, better known as the Ranua Zoo, is the northenmost zoo in the world. Its animals consist of approximately 50 wild animal species and 200 individuals. I liked it better than most of the zoos, because the areas animals live in are really large so it doesn’t look as sad as it does in most of the zoos.

On the way!

At first I didn't want to post so many pictures of this polar bear, but he is sooo cute playing in the snow, isn't he?

This black spot is also an animal – a wolverine

Beautiful reindeer! We saw one on the way, it was crossing the road – so amazing  but I didn't have
any time to take the photo

After visiting Ranua and riding for about an hour, we stopped at Santa Claus Village! This place is highly touristic, full of souvenir shops – the souvenir shops are almost the only thing there – and I must admit that the Santa is also making a huge profit by charging people for taking photos with him, but I guess we all think the same – hey, it’s Santa in the Santa Claus Village, kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  And it does look magical. My inner child was super excited, to tell you the truth! :)

If you write a letter to Santa, this is where it would arrive and where you would get your answer from.

My face :)

EMCLers with the Snowman

Near our resort

At the resort – weeee!

Posing with our sledges – I made sure my sledge matched my ski pants...

The northernmost point of our Lapland trip was one-day excursion to Norway. Well, actually, the only things that convinced us we were there were mountains (scenery in Finland is much more flat, with low hills), table saying NORGE and the sea. That was the whole point of going there – to have a swim in the Arctic ocean. Sounds ridiculous, right? I know. But it also sounds very exciting and it really IS a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity so even though it's not something you wish for, I knew I would do it. But once we got there... hm, I started changing my mind. It was very very very cold - expressed objectively, it was minus 12 degrees. It was snowing. The wind was blowing so hard and the waves were huge. I felt sorry for my earlier determination to take a jump into the water because I was really looking forward to it, but the conditions were awful.
And then the first people started taking their clothes off. One guy, another guy... jumped in and went out almost immediately, screaming. But when two girls appeared in their bathing suits, I decided there is no way two random chicks would do that and not me. I had to endure 30 seconds of the cold because I knew – if I don't do that, I would regret it for the rest of my life.
So I did it.
It was one of the most painful and awful experiences ever.
It was also one of the best!

A peaceful day at the seaside... not.

You can actually see the snow falling in this picture.

And if you've ever wondered what complete and utter happiness looks like... :)

I hope you enjoyed the photos. Another Lapland post coming soon! 

Authorship: not all the photos in this blog post are taken by me. Credits go to Toivo, Nastia, Gabriele, Birgit, Chaya, Nienke, Serine and Weng, who were kind enough to let me publish them.


  1. Па ово је божанствено! Какви предели, какви животи и какве лепоте! ♥
    Оћу одмах да идем до Деда Мраза, али одма'. :)

    1. Jeste, Ivana, predivno je! Ja sam 25 godina bila ubeđena da ne volim zimu, ali ovo je toliko drago i nežno da sam shvatila da mora da sam bila u zabludi :))


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