Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Finnish Lapland with Reima - A Diary of our Trip Part 1

Boy in ski attire, at Ruka Ski Resort
I have been uncharacteristically quiet on the blog and social media this week and there is a very good reason why. We have just returned from the trip of a lifetime, courtesy of the brilliant Finnish outdoor children's clothing brand Reima. I've worked with Reima on product reviews before and L is especially fond of their clothes. Not to say that he is fussy, but comfort is a VERY big deal to him and we both appreciate that he can wear their clothes and stay warm without complaining! So, how did it all happen and where did it end? Read on to find out how Finnish Lapland became more than just a dream and what happened on our trip.

It all began last year, when I was asked to help Reima promote their competition, #MillionHoursofJoy. It was a very big event for them and I couldn't help but share their excitement. The plan was to send one winner from each of the countries that they sell to, on a fantastic trip to their home country of Finland, for an action-packed week in Finnish Lapland. They are such a lovely company to work for, I happily wrote a blog post and shared it around to spread the news. I wasn't expecting anything in return, but they did send L a lovely goody bag, with 'I Wish I was in Finland' on the front in big letters. We had no idea then, how true that statement would become! It turned out, that they were planning to send one blogger from each country on the trip too, and we found out late last year that we had been chosen! After frantically sorting out passports and other details, our plane tickets arrived, and we could look forward to the most exciting holiday we could ever imagine. 

Our Journey Begins - Day 0


On Friday evening, after a very comprehensive packing effort, we made our way to the Hillcroft Accommodation, a couple of miles from Bristol Airport, where we would be flying from in the early hours of the following morning. I was keen to get a hotel nearer to the airport, as we live some distance away, and I didn't want anything to go wrong! I also thought £64 for this lovely room was pretty reasonable, considering the proximity. Bonus points if you can spot the crazily excited child hiding in the shot! 

Images of a room at Hillcroft Accommodation, Bristol

Flying Out - Day 1


At 3.45 we met a surprisingly chirpy taxi driver outside our hotel room for the first leg of a many-legged journey. If journeys were animals, this one would be the octopus. A short time later, in pretty much torrential rain, we found our way into the airport. The nerves, for me, were at fever pitch by this point. I hadn't flown since... I think, about 2002, and then I had my older brother to blame if it all went wrong. This time, it was all on me. Just me and the boy, who was just ridiculously happy to be there. At this stage we thought seeing an aeroplane was pretty exciting, but that would soon change. 

Watching the planes land at Bristol airport.

I somehow managed to find my way through check-in, passport control and onto the plane without any drama, and was happily congratulating myself, until the engines roared into life and it suddenly got a bit scary! We soon got used to it though and the flight passed by really quickly. After a short stop in Amsterdam, we boarded our next flight to Helsinki, where the green fields gave way to snow, snow and more snow! Waiting for us at the airport were Noora and Kathrin, from Reima Finland who gave us a very warm welcome and treated us to lunch in an Italian restaurant! We were the first, but soon other families started to arrive and things began to get really exciting. We all boarded a special charter flight, which would take us to our final destination, the stunning Kuusamo and the ski village of Ruka. 

A view of the entrance to Ruka Village Resort

On the bus journey to the village, I really couldn't believe how different the scenery was. I knew there would be snow, but everything was white, everywhere. There wasn't a blade of grass, or a leaf to be seen and all the trees were tall pine trees. It was like a 3D Christmas card! We were shown to our apartment from the bus and were bowled over by how lovely it was. We would have been happy with just a room, but the accommodation at RukaSuites Ski-Inn Apartments was so much more. A kitchen diner, two bedrooms, lounge area and even a sauna. We knew right then that this would be a holiday to remember. The generous folks at Reima had also left us amazing goody bags packed with treats and supplies. L got a whole new ski outfit and there were lots of other goodies too. We felt very spoilt and it was lovely! It was very hard to sleep that night, it was all just so exciting. 

A selection of ski wear and accessories from Reima

A Late Start - Day 2


... So we overslept, oops! This wasn't a big problem, as we still made it in time for the bus to our first excursion, but we found out the hard way that there is no quick way to put on ski wear. It was like The Generation Game as we clattered around trying to stuff ourselves into many layers, each more complicated than the one before! But, we made it and ate some cereal bars on the bus. We had travelled for 14 hours the day before and I hadn't slept the previous night, due to nerves, so it was pretty understandable and I think we were forgiven. The day was action-packed and began with snow-mobiles. L was beside himself and must have gone around seven or eight times in the end! There were snacks of lovely biscuits and hot fruit drinks too. 

A child's snowmobile with male rider.

Next was ice-fishing which I thought would be really cold and wet, but, it turns out that with the right ski wear, you don't notice the weather at all. There was L, sitting in the snow for ages trying to catch a fish, not even noticing his frozen surroundings. He even had his coat open, because his Reima ski wear was so efficient! Then, it happened! He actually caught something! He was so thrilled. A big cheer went up and lots of people rushed over to see, including our lovely photographer Harri, who took this amazing shot... 

Very happy boy with his first ice fishing catch of the day!

There were so many more exciting adventures during Day 2 that I'm not sure I could even list them all, but they included kick-sledding, making snow sculptures and getting my own turn to drive a full-size snow mobile, which was really fun. All the activities for the Lapland trip were hosted by Ruka Safaris, who provide daily excursions for visitors to Ruka Ski Village. I was a little nervous about a lot of things, initially. I was worried there would be things I couldn't do, and I'd look really silly. I was nervous around all the new people, speaking in lots of different languages. L was struggling because it was all new to him and he was stressed and over-tired. But, I needn't have worried, the Ruka Safari team and our hosts from Reima were so friendly and couldn't do enough to make us feel welcome and at ease. I am so grateful to them for that! Our day ended with a lovely meal at Piste, a local restaurant in Ruka village which served the most delicious Spaghetti Bolognese. 

Spaghetti Bolognese from the Piste Restaurant, Ruka.

More Fast Rides and Santa! - Day 3


Day 3 began at a more leisurely pace, as we finally found our feet with the time difference and tiredness! Breakfast was served in the Colorado restaurant, which was only a short walk from our accommodation. There was fruit, lovely homemade bread, cereal and tea and biscuits. There were also some more unusual choices for the brave, such as pickled onion herrings! Today promised to be very exciting, with some of the most sought-after activities on a Lapland holiday. First there was a bus ride to Lammintupa. We really enjoyed the bus rides, as we couldn't get enough of the stunning scenery! All the buildings were wooden, with low-apex roofs and in a variety of colours, and there were lakes everywhere, it was so pretty. Our first stop when we arrived was the huskies, there were even puppies! I had no idea we were going to be driving our own pack of huskies, or that I could, but there you go. It was a lot of fun, but quite demanding and I think I lack the balance and coordination to take it up professionally! 

A collage featuring a pack of huskies and a husky puppy

Next, we visited the reindeer for feeding and were treated to a sleigh ride around the Lapland countryside. This time, L drove and did a sterling job, he had absolutely no problem with making the reindeer go faster, despite my protests! This is such an iconic part of a Lapland holiday and a wonderful way to really take in the scenery. It also suits all abilities, as the reindeer don't require much encouragement and you are both sitting in a very comfy sleigh for the trip. They are also more than happy to take a more leisurely pace, if that's more acceptable to the passengers. It's the perfect family activity for all ages. This was followed by some of the most delicious pancakes I have ever eaten, with fresh fruit and freshly whipped cream. Amazing. 


A collage featuring views from a reindeer sleigh

After the reindeer, it was off for some sledging and a visit to Santa's Cottage! I couldn't manage the giant hill for the sledging, so the rest of the group took very good care of L, while I was invited to Santa's cottage for a cup of tea, by one of his elves. Apparently, there were sausages after sledging, but I think someone ate mine! When the rest of the group returned, it was time to watch all the little ones have their first encounter with Santa Claus in Lapland. What a fantastic opportunity. The whole experience was really special and the elves and Mr and Mrs Claus pulled out all the stops to make the encounter as magical as they could. It was so lovely to see the wonder and awe in the eyes of all the children. They each received a talk about Santa's activities throughout the year and at the end, all the children had lovely biscuits and everyone got a gift and a hat to take home. Dinner was a large buffet with something for everyone (including chicken nuggets!) at Mon Karle, which overlooked the advanced ski slopes, so we could amuse ourselves watching the brilliant skiers and snow boarders coming down the mountain. 

Santa Claus sitting by a Christmas tree in his cottage, addressing the children.


That concludes part 1 of our amazing trip to Lapland. Stay tuned for Part 2, where we visit a national park, try out snow shoes and fail at skiing! Bye for now. 


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9 comments

  1. Amazing Lucy, I'm so glad you both had such a fab time. Beautiful pictures x

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  2. I was following your trip and your adventures every day through Twitter and Facebook. What an amazing adventure, I am so glad you plucked up the courage to go on the plane. You both had a holiday of a lifetime!

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  3. Wow this looks absolutely incredible! I would love to go to Finnish Lapland!

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  4. That sounds wonderful. What a great surprise. We're off to Lapland in December with our son and I seriously can't wait!

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  5. Oh wow what an amazing opportunity! The holiday looks wonderful and I can't believe how many goodies you got and all really practical ones too. Living in Sweden with three children we know how important the right outdoor gear is and the more comfy they are, the less moaning for our ears!

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  6. Wow what an amazing time you had! I am so jealous, it is literally our dream to take the children to Lapland, I'm so glad you enjoyed it!!

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  7. I would love to visit Finland, but my children are a little younger and a friend of mine advised it was better for when the boys are a bit older. It looks like such a wonderful experience for you all and one you will all remember!

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  8. This looks absolutely amazing! What a great trip - I would love to see that much snow x

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  9. Oh what a amazing trip and one tour both remember FOREVER!

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