Droopy eyes are real in the far north, folks. So, I’m a bit behind. Settle in. I’ve got a lot to catch you up on!
We journeyed north to Lapland on December 22nd. The airports and flight were easy and short. A shuttle from the hotel picked us up and took us to the Apukka Resort.
There was some kind of accident on the only road to the resort, so traffic was backed up. Apparently, the road had been completely closed all morning, so we were lucky that we only had to wait about 20min.
We got to the resort at about 2pm. The “sun” was still “shinning” but only for about 30-45min longer. Apukka Resort was recommended to us by a friend who attended the activities a few years ago. It has been such a positive experience leading up to the trip – they were very accommodating for our group of 10 people and all of the sales people were so kind. We booked the villa for all of us to be together in one place. Villa Apukka is a complete house that sleeps 14 people with a full kitchen, laundry room, 3 bedrooms, 2 living rooms, 2 bathrooms, and a front entrance where you can de-robe out of the elements before entering the entryway (that’s a real thing…more on that later).
The pizza was fantastic and the waitress was so sweet and talkative. The hut itself was so cozy, Lincoln fed the fire with logs and warmed us up. Then when we left, at 4pm, it was completely dark outside. We had to pick up our winter gear for all of the activities and stopped off at reception to pick them up.
They have all of the warming-up hut throughout the property with a raging fire inside. Just outside of the reception there are various ice sculptures – including a wolf. Just to the side there is a sledding hill and there are 2 different saunas – one on the ice lake and one on the side of the road leading to our villa. We also have a sauna off of one of the bathrooms in our house.
We made our way back to the house to meet up with the Stirman crew. Liz and Kelly ventured off to the store and returned about the same time as we did. We then had second dinner that Kelly and Liz cooked of salmon, potatoes, salad and bread. Soooo good!
The light, or lack there of, is astounding. It makes you so very tired at the most unusual times. The sun rises about 11am and sets about 2:30p. Some days are much shorter, and we arrived on the winter solstice- the shortest day of the year. So, to say that we are sleepy most of the time is an understatement. We feasted and drank wine and hit the hay about 10pm.
Day two in Lapland!
We made our way to reception to grab breakfast and then got ready for our first activity of Snowmobiling followed by a trip to Santa’s Village. It snowed over night, so everything looked fresh and covered. It was dark when we left for breakfast and the sun started to paint the sky by the time we finished.
Breakfast was a buffet of eggs, hash browns, porridge, yogurt, arctic berries, coffee and tea. We ate and by the time we geared up, snowmobiling was set to start.
Snowmobiling was tough work! And it was soooooo cold for the passengers. We started off just across the highway where everyone drives sooooo fast, so crossing is a type of dangerous adventure in and of itself. Then we load up on our snowmobiles and take off into the forest. I was driving, so it was tough to actually take picture or videos. Eve & Liz were riding, so they took a few.
We started our trip just before sunset, so we had a bit of daylight at the start before it was fully dark by the end. We stopped halfway and the guide, Jakob, would shove people into the snow, so Lincoln made snow angels, of course.
Once we made it back to reception, we had some time for lunch before catching a shuttle to Santa’s Village. The trip was quick and only the Baughers and mom went. The rest of the group was either feeling too sick or too cold to get back out.
Santa’s village was a little on the commercial side, but I still appreciated all of the cute lights, crossing over the latitude for the Arctic circle, sending post cards from the North Pole and looking for a Christmas ornament to take home.
By the time we made it back, it was dark thirty, and time for dinner and bed. Kelly and Liz made us another great feast of beef tenderloin, potatoes, beet & feta salad and mom had gotten some chocolates to share. Enough wine was poured that by 9pm I was ready to sleep…And sleep I did…until 10am! I couldn’t believe it! I had woken up about 1am and the rest of the time I slept beautifully! The most amazing sleep made more excellent by the silence of wilderness and the darkness of the far north and the coziness of a warm blanket. I wish that kind of sleep for you all!
Day 3 in Lapland: Christmas Eve!
After the long winter’s nap, Bryan and I headed up to the reception lounge for coffee and pastries since we’d missed breakfast. It was 3*.
It did warm up to 5* by the time we headed out for dog sledding. I would like to explain to you what is involved in “gearing up” for these winter activities. I wore:
- Silk shirt
- smartwool long underwear pants
- smartwool long underwear top
- Gnome t-shirt (because it’s Christmas Eve – duh)
- 1 pair of long, smartwool socks
- 1 pair of short smartwool socks
- Winter Gear Jumpsuit/coveralls
- Cashmere scarf
- Smartwool hat
- Hestra mittens
- Icebug winter boots
It took about 20min. I’m not even joking. I’ve never worn 2 pairs of socks in my life. My feet were still freezing about halfway through the dog sledding. Just before we left, the sky started changing, and it was beautiful.
Dog Sledding – maybe my favorite thing ever. We were driven by a team of 5 dogs, and mom and I took turns driving. The dogs were amazing, eager to work and so very strong. The guide told us that they are happy at these absurd temps and stay outside all of the time. Their kennels have a small dog house inside where they can cozy up, but none of them were inside when we were there. The property has about 200 dogs that run about 4 tours a day, averaging 60km/day. They are impressive creatures. And all looked happy.
I did catch a video while I was the passenger.
After the ride, we slipped into a warming up hut and were given some warm juice drink and one of the guides told us a bit about the dogs and then showed us all of the puppies ranging in age from 5yrs to 1month. I loved them all.
My feet were completely frozen, and I was struggling to feel my hands. Bryan was actually worried he would lose fingers or toes! It was unbelievably cold.
We passed the coolest little sauna hut on skis on the way to the house. You can order it and they will bring it to your house or cabin!
We headed back to warm up before the festive buffet dinner. Unfortunately, one or another of the Stirmans have missed some of the activities because they were sick. Brahm and Henry missed initially, and Eve missed today. Maybe everyone will be better by Christmas.
I hope I can sleep as well as last night, but hopefully we’ll wake up early enough to get a bit of Christmas breakfast. Good night for now. I’m headed out in search of the Northern Lights!