I was recently invited to share my most treasured travel memories for Celebrity Cruises #MyTravelMemory competition. I have been incredibly lucky to experience the adventures I’ve had in my life, but not much beats my incredibly family holiday to Lapland for Christmas a few years ago. I never wrote a blog post about the trip, so I’m really excited to be sharing my magical memories at last.
The first thing I noticed when I stepped off the plane in Kiruna Airport was the cold. At -36c it’s hard to describe the intensity of it – within just seconds you feel like you’ve been standing outside for an hour. Brrrrrrrr!
We were taken to the stunning Máttaráhkká Northern Light Lodge and greeted with a roaring fire. Mum added fairy lights and Christmas decorations whilst we unpacked our heaps of clothes – just 4 days away but more clothes than I’ve ever packed before!
Dinner was at a local restaurant where I ordered moose topside for starter, and smoked reindeer for main. Both were INCREDIBLE. I’ve not had the opportunity to eat reindeer since, but still claim it’s my favourite meat after such a spectacular meal. Everything about it is simply divine.
The next day was the stuff of fairy tales. A day out reindeer-sleigh riding!!
It was -40 degrees on the lake so too cold for the full adventure. Instead, we remained around the Lavu (teepee), feeding and preparing the reindeer with the harnesses before doing a couple of sleigh ride laps of the track.
Lunch was enjoyed inside the smoky lavu where Theresa and her uncle taught us about Sami people and their livelihood whilst rustling up reindeer tortillas and squash. I was too slow at drinking my squash so it kept turning to ice and had to be melted again several times before I finished it. Particularly annoying!
Despite having foot and hand warmers, as the light fell, we were cold to the bone and our cameras and phones had given up the ghost in the cold, so we headed back to our lodge for a steamy evening hot tub.
On Christmas Day we took skidoos to the Ice Hotel. It was a fantastic experience, but I actually preferred our small and humble lodge, as it felt authentic and unshowy. That said, the Ice Hotel is certainly worth a visit – each room is designed differently with intricate ice designs everywhere you look.
Before we lost the light we hopped back on our skidoos.
I spied 2 moose nibbling away at branches in the undergrowth. Jo unfortunately learnt the error of leaving skin on show to the elements and ended up with frostbite on her cheek for a few days!
The magic didn’t stop there. What could be more apt for Christmas dinner in the Arctic than…more reindeer.
This was followed by a trip to the Aurora Sky Station in Abisko, known to be the best place on earth to see the Aurora Borealis (or, more commonly, the Northern Lights) and after an hour of not seeing anything but cloud we were about to give up…then we noticed the cloud changing. I took a snap on my camera with a slow shutter speed and when I looked at the screen it showed up bright green!! It was hard to notice the difference by eye between the aurora borealis and the clouds, but on camera it absolutely glowed! Once we knew where to watch, we saw more and more green lights jumping and dancing around the sky, it was EPIC! Despite doing our best to capture them on camera, our photography skills weren’t quite up to speed unfortunately…
Our final day was spent husky riding. More specifically ‘small dog’ sleigh riding. They bounced along as though their feet were too cold on the snow. I was glad to have been forewarned to keep my mouth shut as they go about their ‘duties’ mid run!
We whizzed and whooshed along a path, with me sitting comfortably and Charlie riding behind shouting enthusiastic ‘yeehaa’ chants. Half way round we stopped for a break before swapping positions. Turns out the dogs aren’t quite strong enough to get 2 large Hatcher’s up hill so I ended up having to run and push the sleigh (and Charlie) up hill most of the way home!
A long weekend was all the time we needed there as the limited daylight hours take their toll a bit, but it was the most magical holiday I have ever been on – filled with memories that will last me a lifetime. I’ve loved reminding myself of all that we did whilst writing this post up! The trip was organised through Arctic Direct should you wish to make magic happen for yourself.