Monday, December 14, 2015

The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway

First things first:

I apologise deeply for the Frozen reference.

Now onto the important stuff.

I. Love. Lapland.

Whenever I told people that I would be going to Finnish Lapland, which is pretty much as far north as you can get, almost everyone responded with "But Lee, you hate the cold!" I don't know where this idea came from and how everyone collectively got it, but I'm pretty sure I've always enjoyed winter (as long as I didn't have to drive in the snow). 

A bad picture, but the "border"
at the Arctic Circle!
I obsessively checked the weather in Saariselkä, the village we stayed in, every day the weeks before departing. I was giddy with excitement every time I saw that a few centimeters of snow had fallen and was only slightly intimidated by the extremely low air temperatures. We took a bus from Turku, Finland, up to Lapland, and as we traveled farther and farther north and snow began to appear and get deeper, I could hardly contain myself. When we stopped in Rovaniemi, which is the capital city of Lapland, where Santa is from, AND where the Arctic Circle is located, the first thing I did was find a deep snow pile to stomp around in. In Saariselkä, there was snow almost up to my waist in some places! Sometimes I would take a step in a spot of fresh snow and sink like I was in quicksand. It was awesome. 

Saariselkä gave us the greatest welcome ever by displaying the Northern Lights beautifully the first night we arrived. Being able to see this gift from nature in person was a dream come true. Pictures really can't do it justice. There's nothing like seeing them in person. 

There was so much to do in Lapland! The first thing I did was take a
This photo doesn't do its beauty justice.
Just let that soak in for a moment.
ride on a sleigh driven by reindeer. Reindeer are very slow (contrary to what Santa has convinced everyone to believe), which made the ride nice and relaxing, but even though it was a slow ride, it wasn't long enough! I really enjoyed being guided around by reindeer. 

After that, I went on a nighttime snowshoe safari, and it turns out that I am not very coordinated when it comes to snowshoes. And when I say "not very coordinated," I mean not at all coordinated. It was a disaster, to say the least. I was falling every few minutes and required help getting back up, and at some points I gave up and laid down in the snow for a few seconds. But even though I couldn't stay on my feet for more than two seconds, it was a lot of fun, and all of the suffering was absolutely worth it because after the hike was over and the snowshoes were removed, we received a delicious meal of fish soup and chopped reindeer. Let me tell you, the people of Lapland know how to eat. 

Selfie in a sleigh driven by
huskies? Been there, done that!
The best part of the trip though was, without a doubt, the husky safari, which means we got to drive a sleigh of huskies. Going on this safari required waking up at 6:45am (and if you know me, you know I am not a morning person in the slighest), but it was absolutely worth it. Driving a sleigh of huskies was the most fun and exciting thing I have ever done, and I wish that it would have lasted longer! After driving the sleigh, we got to meet the huskies, which was just as exciting, especially considering I love animals. I think I befriended every dog there and wanted to take all of them back to Sweden with me. 

So before you ask what I want for Christmas, let me just tell you the answer: I want a husky. Or two. Or ten. 

Just spending some quality time with
one of the members of our husky team.
Of course, there was also lots and lots of playing in the snow. Right outside our cabins was a hill that was perfect for sledding, so we spent hours every night starting snowball fights, tossing one another in
Sled racing! Better in theory than in practice.
the snow, and, duh, sledding down this hill. 

Finally, I tried out skiing! And guess what! I am awful! I think the only winter sport I'm halfway decent at is ice skating. But skiing was worth at least trying. I won't say I didn't have fun because that would be a lie, but I don't think I'll be going again any time soon. 

Do I at least look like I know what I'm doing?
After spending a week in Finland, I was beyond ready to return to my home here in Björnkulla. I was so happy to sleep in my bed again! I didn't think I'd really miss this place until I was gone for more than a few days. I can only imagine how I'll feel when it's time to leave for good. (But we're not going to think about that. We don't have to think about that for another six months)

Next week, my mom will be arriving in Sweden! She'll be here for Christmas, which is really exciting; I'll be happy to see her again. After she leaves, I'll be off to Helsinki, Finland, for the World Junior Hockey Championship then after that I'm going to Prague, Czech Republic! I have a busy couple of weeks coming up, and I am beyond excited for everything!

Moi moi! (That's Finnish for goodbye!)
- Lee

The only group photo we were able to get!