Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Finnish Lapland with Reima - Diary of our Trip Part 2

Boy with skis on a ski slope with title overlaid.
I've spent the last few days sorting through the 748 photos we took during our 6 day visit to the fantastic Ruka Ski Resort in Kuusamo, Finnish Lapland, courtesy of the brilliant children's ski wear brand Reima and their #MillionHoursofJoy Kidventure campaign. There were so many amazing things to see and do, that I'm amazed we stopped there, and didn't have a few thousand photos to bring home! Part 2 of our diary follows below, with details of more daily #kidventures and the all-important Northern Lights! If you haven't read it yet, you can find Finnish Lapland Kidventures - Part 1 by clicking the link.

A Day at the Slopes - Day 4

This was a very much anticipated day for everyone in our merry group of travellers and adventurers. Ruka is, primarily, a ski resort and so a day on the slopes was very exciting for everyone and we were all looking forward to seeing what the slopes had to offer. Some people had tried skiing before, whereas others, like L, were total novices. We didn't have to worry though, as there were very gentle slopes for beginners and options for lessons to learn the basics too. You could hire all the equipment you needed and this was expertly fitted by friendly staff. As you can see, L really looked the part! 

Boy in full ski outfit posing on the slopes.

Our ski lesson was at 1pm, so we went with our friend Amanda, the British journalist on the trip, to get fitted for boots and helmets. This took quite a while, as the sizes have to be just right, and by the time we had done this, and signed out our skis, we managed to miss the group photo with everyone else on the trip. This makes me sad, as it was such a lovely group and I really wanted to be part of it, but here it is anyway, so you can see the amazing assortment of families and bloggers who came from all over the world to be part of the #MillionHoursofJoy experience. It's weird, because we were only together for a week, and initially I was a bit overwhelmed and nervous, as I'm not used to being around a lot of people, but I missed them a little bit when we got home! 

A group of skiers, posing against a snowy landscape.

It turned out, that after getting fitted for all the equipment and trying out skiing, L is not a natural skier. I managed to persuade him to stay for some of the lesson and give it a good go, but he wasn't really enjoying it and was getting rather stressed. The equipment is quite heavy and he was already really tired as we had done quite a lot of walking and playing in the snow whilst waiting for our lesson. It seemed that the younger children were faring better, so perhaps starting him younger would have helped, but he is very sensitive to clothing and materials and there are a lot of heavy and itchy fabrics involved, so I think that played a big part too. I didn't see the point in making him carry on, if it was just going to make him upset, so we gave up, and watched everyone else instead. It was lovely to watch all the little ones have their lesson and seeing them improve and get really involved in it. The cafe offered great views of the slopes, so we could spectate in comfort with a nice hot chocolate. It turned out L was pretty tired after all his efforts! 

Boy sleeping on sofa

The cafe was called Bistro and was situated right next to the slopes. For lunch we had a delicious lasagne with lots of lovely salad. We found out that you could also hire sledges from the ski hire place, but L was more than happy in this fun inner tube-spinny thing. For ages. And ages. I think it must have been really relaxing! It was literally four inner tubes on a central axis, rotating slowly and pulling the tubes around on ropes, but I have never seen him sit still for so long! In the end, it was the amount of snow piling down on his head that caused him to have to leave his tube, before he was buried in his own personal avalanche!

A ride in a snowy inner tube

We stayed a little longer than intended, after our scheduled coach had left, so we got an opportunity to try out the local bus service. I really wish we had the same buses at home. It's so simple, you just stand there, and a few minutes later a bus turns up and takes you back to the ski village, and it's free! Dinner that evening was another bus ride away at the atmospheric, and traditionally Lappish, Kontioluola restaurant. This was a real insight into Lappish food and traditions. There were traditional costumes, music, and even a presentation on Lappish culture. The food was a buffet with a wide selection of Lappish salads and delicious fresh salmon, as well as Reindeer stew, and for dessert, a chance to try a local delicacy; pine tree ice cream! I really enjoyed the whole experience at this restaurant, It felt like we were part of something really special.

A Lappish performer at Kontiouola restaurant

Do What You Like Day - Day 5

This was our free day, where we could use the time to explore the area and discover Ruka for ourselves. We had a leisurely breakfast in our apartment of pastries from the supermarket below. One of the parts we most appreciated about Ruka Ski resort was how safe it was to move around the area. L really enjoyed having a little bit of independence and he went to the supermarket to get breakfast by himself. This is how I ended up having doughnuts for breakfast, but never mind, it's the thought that counts! After breakfast we went for a look around the shops in our hotel complex and bought some souvenirs. There were a lot of lovely things to buy and I could have bought them all, especially the traditional hats and cosy slippers. After that we went for a typically picturesque walk to our lunch location, a Pizzeria restaurant in the hills outside the resort. 

A snowy pizzeria, on a mountain side.

As you can see, the location was amazing and, as we walked there ourselves, it really felt like we were in the middle of a snowy wilderness! There was a fabulous view out of every window and the food was delicious. After too much lovely pizza, we headed back to the village for an afternoon of sledging and playing on a stunning ice playground in the sunshine. We really had to pinch ourselves at times, because everything was so perfect! I can't ever imagine having another opportunity to slide down a purpose built ice slide and crawl through a tunnel of ice! We didn't go to dinner that evening, as L was too tired and he wasn't keen on the menu, but we did go to the firework display later in the evening, which featured some amazing skiers, coming down the mountain, carrying torches, it was really quite spectacular!

Boy sliding down a purpose-built ice slide in a hill.

We had been having such an amazing week, that we had almost forgotten about one of the other highlights of a Lapland holiday. The Northern Lights. Like a lot of people, it had been a long-held dream of mine, but one that was never even considered, as I thought it was absolutely impossible that it would ever happen. Since arriving in Lapland we had seen and done so much and been constantly thrilled and amazed by everything, that I actually didn't mind any more if I didn't get to see The Lights. However, much later that evening, someone mentioned in our Facebook group that they had seen some lights in the sky, so I made a decision, woke a very tired boy and we quickly put our ski pants and jackets on over our pyjamas. We crept downstairs and out into the street. It was incredibly cold, colder than it had ever been before and I didn't bring any gloves. So we didn't have long, but, sure enough, within a few minutes, what started off as something that looked a bit like smoke, or small clouds, grew bigger and greener, until there was no mistaking the famous spectacle. It was a wonderful moment and even L was more emotional than I had expected. We even managed to grab a few quick photos, before my hands stopped working due to the cold. A fabulous end to Day 5.

A group of people watching the fireworks on the ski slopes at Ruka

Oulanka National Park in Snow Shoes - Day 6

A long time before we embarked on this amazing adventure, we were emailed details of the proposed programme of activities for the trip, which was lovely because it gave us plenty of opportunity to get really excited about everything that we would be doing. Out of all the activities we were looking forward to, this trip to Oulanka was something that particularly appealed to me. It was a chance to explore the real Lapland; the parts we see in the magazines and on postcards, and it didn't disappoint. I hadn't realised, either, that we would be making the trip through the woods in snowshoes! I didn't have much time to worry about this, but I think I would have given the chance! As usual, though, I didn't need to, our lovely hosts were on hand to help me get the shoes on and off my feet and didn't even wait to be asked. The walk wasn't as long as I thought it would be and there was the most wonderful scene at the other end, where a huge fire was lit for us, with piles of sandwiches, sausages and marshmallows for toasting. I have so many amazing photos of this day, it will probably get its own post at some point. This is probably my favourite photo though, taken by our lovely photographer Harri, and a rare one with me in it!

Mother and son posing by the river in Oulanka National Park

Photo Credit: Harri Tarveinen

The trip was really worthwhile, but it took a lot out of me and I was glad to get back to our apartment for a rest. I was lucky to be able to bring some friends along too. Amanda, my journalist friend, and her lovely lad Sonny. It was our last night, and we intended to enjoy it, so Amanda, who is an expert in such matters, managed to source a bottle of wine. We had just poured some glasses, when something amazing happened. Outside our window, the beginnings of Northern Lights! This made me so happy, as I had made the decision not to go on the planned excursion up Ruka mountain that night, as I was already in pain and the walking and cold would make it worse and slow everyone else down. Thankfully, some kind friends offered to take L along and I knew he would have a lovely time with them, so while he hiked up a mountain with my camera, we settled down with blankets and wine, to enjoy the light show from the comfort of our balcony.  I really could not have asked for a more fitting end to such a wonderful trip, so I think I will leave it right there, and finish with one of the photos L took on his trip up the mountain. I will always be grateful to Reima, not just for allowing us to join them on this fabulous adventure, but also for taking such great care of us while we were there. They really are an amazing group of people.

Northern Lights from Ruka mountain



  1. Looks like a result. Love the photo of how tired skiing and fresh air leaves you, kids eat loads too!

  2. Thats a lot of photos! I never realised there was more to do than just skiing, it looks fab!

  3. What an amazing trip. I remember seeing the Northern Lights in Norway properly and they danced for us for 2 whole hours. We didn't feel the cold the entire time. I really hope we get to see them when we visit Lapland in December x

  4. WOW! What an amazing trip and finished off by the northern lights really is a highlight Im sure!

  5. What a brilliant trip. We have said we want to take the girls to Lapland one year . It looks incredible!

  6. Ruka was where we were for Chrismas 2 years ago, and we loved every minute of our holiday there!! It is a fantastic place to take children

  7. Looks like you had an amazing trip. Wish we had stayed longer. Sadlly the northern lights refused to shine for us

  8. You crammed so much in. what an amazing experience. I love the sound of the Kontioluola restaurant, did you try reindeer?

  9. Looks like you're having a fantastic trip! So many great things to do.


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