I know I have plenty to show and tell you from Morocco and I will. But today I am having one of those days. One of those days where I have been smiling so much that my cheeks hurt, that fills me with so much gratitude and that makes me tell myself over and over again - this is it! This is one of the best days of your life, you better remember it!
So I thought I should squeeze in some snowy thoughts while they are still fresh on my mind.
On Wednesday, I arrived in Finland for the first time ever. I am going to China with Finnair for a press trip but as life sometimes throws me wonderfully spontaneous treats I was also invited by Kakslauttanen to come and spend a couple of nights at their Arctic Resort. Santa Clause lives here and he and the lovely people from Visit Finland made it possible for me to come for a bit to play in the snow before heading to China next week.
As you may or may not know, I am not nervous when it comes to flying, but getting to the airport in time turns me into a bundle of nerves. Needless to say, usually a transfer time of five minutes would make it a two valium kind of a day. Especially considering that there is all but one flight from Helsinki to Ivalo right now and they are always booked out quickly. But for some reason, I wasn't nervous it all, simply relying on the fact that all would be well. After all, the aurora was waiting as per request to Santa.
And so I arrived early evening in beautiful Lapland sunshine and more snow than I have ever seen in all my life together. Today someone told me the snow I see right now is considered little for the area. Me the sunseeker, the 'it can never be too warm for me' girl, the one that is always cold in Germany even in summer is surrounded by snow and ice and I am loving it. I seem to be channeling my inner Elsa.
My first evening at Kakslauttanen can be summarized with two important Firsts in the life of every girl. I lit my first fire and I saw my first Northern Lights. Mind you, I pulled the wrong lever instead of the damper and my cabin filled with smoke and the smoke detector went off and the Northern Lights were faint and my pictures crappy, but still... I was ecstatic.
After a short night, it was time to go play in the snow and to meet the huskies. Kakslauttanen works with two local husky farms and ours was home to about 250 dogs. And yes, each dog has a name and Santo our husky sled instructor knows all of them.
After a quick briefing on the safety and logistics, we met our quintet: Elma, Kuisma, Tiikkal, Voitto and Franky.
Elma was the really impatient one, who kept galloping on the spot even when we had to wait. Tiikkal had the prettiest blue eyes and Franky the softest fur. I also believe he was a cat in his former life because he was almost purring when I petted him after the ride. Kuisma managed the very impressive task of taking a dump while we were sledding uphill and Voitto was the farty one as I discovered when it was my turn to sit in the sled.
Basically, you have one driver and one person being driven per sled. There is not much to do as the Huskies love running and know where to go. They don't need special training for it though young dogs are grouped with calmer more experienced ones when they first start sledding. The older ones show the youngsters the ropes and train them on the job.
Our group was all male and pretty young, eager to get going. We had to be second in the lineup and learn to be patient, otherwise, we'd be off into the wilderness as Santo explained. The dogs and I were having an equally hard time with that. My job was to keep a foot on the brake and I don't think they appreciated my effort, I felt like a spoil-sport mother. And let's just say that my foot was getting quite tired by the end. Those
kids dogs can run faster than the Roadrunner!
We still went pretty fast at least as far as I could tell by the icy cold wind in my face. The boys seemed to disagree, all eating snow to cool themselves down during our breaks so they could run some more. Yum.
Can you tell that I was having the best time? When you don't know if your cheeks hurt from the beautiful, crispy cold or from smiling too much - that feeling is the best!
Changing from dogs to a snowmobile at first didn't seem as exciting, but we were lured from the huskies with promises of hot berry juice and puppies. I had barely taken a sip from my juice when a guy walked towards me, thrusting a puppy into my arms Here, you want to hold the puppy? Do I want to hold a husky puppy? A silly question if I ever heard one.
OP, our snowmobile guide gave us a few minutes with the little one before we were riding off into the snow, this time, motorized. I had just time to ask the puppy's name. No name as of yet. Maybe you should name her Annika! I suggest with what I think is a sweet smile. Sure, I can do that, he said matter of factly and walked away towards our mobiles. Come on!
Two hours later we returned, cold but smiling even more. OP and I started chatting while we wait for some of our group and I told him that I write. Oh, you must write nice things about me, he said. Not a hard task I wanted to reply but then thought better. Of course, I will write nice things, after all, you are naming the puppy after me. - That's right, he smiled, the puppy will be Annika.
Disclaimer: Thank you Kakslauttanen for the invitation! Opinions are still my own, but then again, having a puppy named after me may have swayed my opinion towards absolutely loving this place slightly.