Europe Blitz Part 1/4

We recently had the tremendous luxury to go to Europe for a much-needed holiday. I call it a blitz because we blitzed through 4 countries in 13 days, namely Finland, Switzerland, Germany and Spain. First up is Finland, Lapland, land of Santa Claus and the Aurora Borealis.

At Helsinki airport, getting our boarding pass from an automated machine.
Even something as important as a boarding pass is process-automated nowadays.

For domestice flight from Helsinki to Ivalo there was a luggage limit of 20kg.
Commence the re-packing of luggage items -.-
Before embarkation – small flights means the old-fashioned way of getting up
the plane.
Temperature in Helsinki was 1.7 degrees celcius. Stay tuned for the
temperature in Ivalo.
Nearing arrival at Ivalo, where we finally realized our dreams of seeing
a snow-scape. In fact, this was probably much too much snow.
A blurred photo but you could still make out the temperature upon
touch down at Ivalo-minus 13.7 degrees. BRRRR~
Our abode for 2 days was this wooden cabin house, but we had to lug our
luggage through all the snow. See below!
A better view of the house, snow was so thick that we had to sweep it away.
Really brings out the winter mood.
Another temperature update!
Perhaps the simplest of pleasures can be the best luxury – hot
instant noodles to thaw our freezing innards.
Just.look.at.the.snow.
Now this is something special and something probably quite often
seen on 9gag, Oddee etc, the famous glass igloo resorts
of Ivalo. If you’re wondering why snow doesn’t pile up on the top its
because the glass have heaters in them.
Its only like, 2pm. Nightfall around Dec here is at 3pm. We are actually
standing atop a frozen lake!
Probably one of the best thing about winter is that everything is so dry. I
started this fire with a grand total of 1 matchstick.
So authentic right. A crackling fireplace in winter is about as apt as
butter with toast.
A view of the glass igloo at night. The whole idea is to gaze out into the
night sky while sleeping and falling asleep under the stars…

The second night, we went to visit the Santa Claus resort to visit ‘Santa Claus’ himself. Apparently in Europe the idea of Christmas and Santa Claus and his reindeers and his elves making present is still very much a beloved children’s tale and very much alive there. That much is apparent from the excitement of the children around. Personally felt that it was just fun and interesting how they spent effort to make-believe that Santa’s world is real. I am not saying its bad though, its in fact an essential part of a child’s growth, as stories fuel a child’s imagination and hopes. The Santa told the kids that they could ask him anything they liked and at the end, my sis asked jolly ol Santa ”why does Santa never comes to Asia?” to which he replied ”perhaps this year I will try”. Dude, you’re Santa, Do or do not, there is no try.

Santa giving out presents to little children..even the little Asian children!

Nothing much more to say about the Santa visit because it was frankly a little boring! The next day we left our cabin house and moved to a hotel in Ivalo Town, where we tried snow-skiing.

Here’s an epic moment of the classic tree-pole. Too classic!
Its blurry because of the fall. But seriously it was fun going down slopes.

It was supposed to be the most anticipated part of the stay in Finland, catching the Northern Lights. We actually had a near-miss the second night at the cabin house as we saw a little green light and shouts from all around of others rushing to catch it too. We stayed up all night but it eventually got too cloudy. Catching the northen lights seems to be an art in itself. There are so many packages tailored for it, chasing the aurora via Reindeer or Husky sleighs, by snowmobile, by mini-van. 

On our last day, we decided to take the mini-van and we went to Lake Inari, the second biggest lake in Finland. Pictures later, but it was just the biggest piece of frozen liquid we have ever seen. We first went to this true-blue ice igloo where the furniture were all ice carved from ice blocks taken from the lake.

Check out the tables made of ice. Cool right.

We reached the Lake and just look at the temperature.

Black obscure thing below my feet is actually…the frozen lake-yikes.
Trying to set up the camera to capture the Aurora. It was actually there but obscured by the clouds.
The camera actually managed to capture the aurora though, I guess the spectrum of light just could
not be picked up by our naked eyes.

Making snow-angels, tick one off my life’s To-Do list 🙂
Lake Inari is basically everything that is white here.

And so we left Finland with a bit of a twinge of regret, not fulfilling our dream of catching the Northern Lights. But I guess this is what makes it more appealing, more elusive to everyone, so that if one day when our eyes chance upon it, it will be all the more magical to us. Finland was not without experiences though. It was the coldest i have ever been to, despite all the layers of clothing I had on me.

Next stop: The Swiss Alps.

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