We went to Finland just before Christmas. I meant to post about it a while back but I forgot that I had a blog.
Going to Lapland is becoming a thing that brits do. It's like going to Spain was when I was growing up. It's turning into a bit of a tourist thing to do in winter, where traditionally you stayed at home.
The real answer is kids. You go to see where Santa is. Because he isn't already bust enough during this time - he needs people to miether him at home.
It's cold in Finland in December. That's not a big shock to most people but this is the coldest place I've ever been to, so it was a whole new experience. Things like your hair and teeth freezing. One set of gloves not being enough to stop my hands freezing.
The sun doesn't rise properly in December there. It doesn't even dip over the horizon.. which means that most of the day things are dimmer.
You don't appreciate how dim things are though, because your eyes and brain are clever enough to compensate. But every now and then you'll see something, like a light, and realise that it's not as bright as you think it is.
Because it's so cold you have to wear 3 layers of clothes.. and wearing so many clothes makes it so hard to walk.
You want to have a walk in the snow but you get 20 meters down the road and you have to have a rest.. because every time you move your legs they're elasticed back to where they were.
The place we stopped at was insane. It was so nice and so big. I get the feeling 2 or 3 families normally pack out one of these villas, but we were in it on our own.
We had a chef who came and cooked our meals in the villa. The only real problem with that is we're beans on toast and jacket potato types of people, so when they give us a menu with no photos that looks like it's written in french, we get very confused.
We told the kids that Santa was going to visit at the villa. There was some debate from Alex that it won't be the real one, so I told him that there's no way we'd fly all the way here just to see a fake Santa.
Then he visited us, and he spoke to the kids and gave them some presents, and we had our photo taken with him.
When he'd gone Alex still didn't believe he was the real Santa. He said his beard was too white.
But the next day I noticed something weird, in the photos we'd had taken with Santa - there was no Santa. He'd gone. Disappeared. I told Alex and he was slightly stunned.
When we got back I heard him telling one of his friends on his computer about it, as evidence that it was definitely the real one.
We went to the reindeer village to see some reindeers. They dragged us around in the dark with one for 15 minutes. It felt sad and cruel, but I guess it wasn't for me.
Then we fed them. In the dark. While they surrounded us like zombies.
We went to the cafe and the owner of the farm told us about it. He was a nice guy. Really softly spoken, but a big guy. The farm had Dwight Schrute feelings to it. The cafe was his Grandad's house and had family photos all over the wall. The chef in the cafe was his mom.
He told us how there's no wild reindeer in the country, how they're really more trouble than they're worth because they get into farmer's fields and he has to pay for the crops. About how it's too hot for most people in the summer when it reaches 20c and a lot of farmers work at night and sleep during the day instead.
That night we went back to the Villa and ate Reindeer.
I had pretty much no sleep. I ate too much reindeer and my body didn't like it. We had to pack up all our suitcases because we were going to the ice village on the way to the airport.
I felt like total shit. I was either going to throw up or shit myself. There was a 40 minute ride to the airport. I kept looking out of the window to see where I could run to and do a shit if it suddenly hit me. Everything had 2 foot of snow so it wasn't going to be good.
When we got to the ice village I headed to the toilet. One tiny cubicle. I squeezed in there with my massive coat on and managed to get it off and put it on the floor in front of me.
The cubicle door was a sideways sliding door and there was no lock on it. I had no choice, I held it shut and tried to get some of the meat out of my body. Some got out. I felt better. I managed to squeeze my coat back on and opened the door.
As I slid the door back it came off the rail and started falling forwards. I caught it and held it up. It had come unattached. I tried to put it back, I couldn't figure it out. The door opened and someone walked in.
He looked at me, standing there holding this huge wooden door, and I looked at him. I put it down, leaned it up where the door should be.. and left without washing my hands.