Holidays ………. Sea ………. Sun ………. Sand ……….
Snow ………. Ice ……….
That’s right Snow and Ice that’s what you’re going to find in Finnish Lapland in February. And it’s brilliant. We just returned from a week in Levi. We booked through Inghams who were great and we had the best time. Arriving at the airport the first thing you notice is that everything is covered in snow. The runways are clear and everything runs like clockwork!
Same on the roads, vehicles have studded tyres and getting about is no problem whatsoever.
We always prefer to stay out of town and walk in and the Hullu Poro Oy (Crazy Reindeer Hotel) just five minutes walk from the main town was simply perfect.
Although it was quite a large hotel it has a real family atmosphere with cosy lounges and rooms and the staff were just lovely. A real log fire would have been nice rather than the 72 inch digital TV version but you can’t have everything. Our room was perhaps on the small side but perfectly adequate with TV and coffee and tea making facilities and we had a great bathroom with a ginormous bath.
We were half board and both breakfast and evening meal were served buffet style in the main restaurant. Breakfasts were excellent, everything you could think of, bread, meats, cheeses, cereals, fruit, yoghurts, and an excellent hot section with bacon, sausages, scrambled egg, hash browns, meatballs. Evening meals were pretty good too with a salad buffet, soup, and hot food section. The salad buffet was amazing and I enjoyed some of the best salads I’ve ever had (& I’ve been around). The main course choices are probably best described as good hearty dishes, sometimes edging towards restaurant quality. Lovely stews of beef, reindeer, meatballs (different from the breakfast meatballs) chicken and some great fish dishes. Staff were on the ball making sure everything was hunky dory, dishes collected, everything replenished on time – good job staff, well done.
Our holiday included the hire of insulated suits so the first job was to go and collect them from the hire desk. Then we were ready for action. And there was plenty of it to come! Neither of us Ski but I can wholeheartedly recommend Levi as a great family ski resort. There’s just so much to do, as well as the ski slopes there are miles and miles of cross-country trails for cross-country skiing or snow shoeing!
We made sure we had plenty of free time for exploring the town and playing on top of the ski slopes but we had some kind of activity booked almost every day.
Our first activity was a nighttime husky sledge ride. Now a friend of mine had posted some pictures of her daytime drive. She took one where you actually drive the sledge yourself and it was a nice picture. There she was with five dogs loosely milling around as the sledge made it’s way over some flat snowy plain.
As soon as we arrived at the kennels I knew ours was not going to be the same.
We were being driven by the owner, a lovely lady who has won several trophy’s for sledge racing. If that didn’t give us a clue, our first sighting of the dogs should have. There they were, harnessed up already. Ten of them, baying, howling, barking and generally pulling wheelies in their enthusiasm to get going.
I had my camera tripod mounted (in case the Northern Lights put in an appearance) held across my chest and I had my thin tactile gloves on, planning to get sorted and put my neckwarmer and big gloves on once we were settled in the sledge.
I was told to get in the sledge first, sat in the back in a legs open position. The sledge is on the ground and as I crashed down into my seat the sledge move forward a foot as the dogs made a false start. My wife jumped in and as soon as her butt nestled into position, with me as an armchair, we were off. I can only describe the first minute or two as frantic! Snow flying, dogs howling, frost forming on my eyes, hanging on for dear life as we rushed through forest and took a high line with a 45 degree tilt on the snowy banks through the fast corners.
Temperature was around minus 22 and any bits that weren’t covered were feeling it! My right arm was trapped across my chest by my wife. I managed to get a glove out of my left pocket and get it on but my right hand was absolutely freezing. I managed to pull my neck warmer up a bit with my left hand, prop the tripod in the crook of my arm and hide my right hand behind my wife. Still cold but bearable.
Then just as I got sorted it all became rather wonderful. We exited the trees onto a level snow covered plain in almost complete silence as the dogs ran along in front of us. Then the driver turned her head torch off treating us to a magical landscape of small snow covered trees, miles of untouched snow, a million frost crystals floating in the air like stardust and an amazing night sky with a million stars twinkling down at us. Almost perfect.
For obvious reasons I have no pictures of the sleigh ride. After the sleigh ride though we got to meet the dogs who were still playful and enjoyed meeting us, having their heads rubbed and ears scratched. We then headed for the hut to warm up, drink hot fruit juice and cook sausages on the fire. My camera started to thaw out too so I have some pictures of this.
Later in the week we enjoyed an evening horse drawn sleigh ride and this was more like what I imagined the husky ride would be like, slow, smooth, sedate transport through that same magical countryside. There were more of us on this ride, perhaps eight maybe ten people on a larger sledge, sat up properly with a rug over your knees. The ride wasn’t as long as the husky ride and soon we were all back in the hut for pancakes & fruit juice.
Huts played a great part in this holiday and I really like them. Open fires, snuggy warm, wonderful places. Life needs more huts.
Hey don’t let me put anyone off the husky ride either, it was fantastic and I wouldn’t change a thing. After all what doesn’t kill you lol.
- Top tips:
- Be prepared. If you are going on any kind of transport make sure you’re all good to go before getting on board.
- If you are going on anything that moves. Wear your thermal suit. Gloves. Neckwarmer and hat.
- Take a head torch (one with red lights too so that you can see without blinding your companions.