When I booked our holiday to Lapland, the plan was to keep it a secret from all the family.
The plan worked at first, but when it came to Hubby booking his holiday from work, I gave in and told him what I was up to. However, we both agreed it should be a surprise for the kids.
Thankfully, now all the kids are at school, researching and buying everything we needed to pack for Lapland was fairly simple and even when the cases came out of the loft the night before we were due to travel, they didn’t raise any suspicions.
The kids were not too impressed about being woken up at 5.30am in the morning, but got dressed and into the car without too much fuss, curious about where we were off to. From our travels they know where local landmarks are and were soon guessing we were off to Adventure Wonderland, which is set opposite Bournemouth Airport, so imagine their confusion when we headed to the airport instead.
“Are we going on a plane?” was the next question.
We headed into the airport and excitement was starting to build but even the approach to the check-in desk didn’t raise any guesses as to where we were going as it simply read “Ivalo”, which is the northern most airport in the EU, set just inside the Arctic Circle.
It was once we were through security that the penny started to drop, with families all dressed in their best Christmas jumpers, including us. We finally got to say the words “We are going to Lapland”
Sadly for us, there was a two-hour delay with the plane, so we had to wait a little longer than we had hoped until we boarded, but the atmosphere in the airport was happy and jovial as it was packed full of families with young children, all excited for the adventure ahead.
Our airline for the weekend was Small Planet, a Lithuanian leisure airline who I have to admit I have not heard of before. We were welcomed onboard by the cabin crew who were all wearing reindeer antlers and Christmas music playing over the tannoy system.
Once we were in the air, the fun began with a drawing competition for the kids, with the winner voted by the captain. Sadly, despite their best efforts, mine didn’t win, but they loved creating their masterpieces and it was a great way of keeping them occupied for half an hour.
Once the kids had finished it was then time for a sing-song, with the cabin crew getting the passengers involved, singing over the tannoy system and posing for pictures. The flight takes around 3½ hours from Bournemouth and we were soon touching down on a snow-covered runway.
We donned our warmest winter coats and got off the plane to temperatures of -5°C, to take the short walk into the arrivals lounge in the dark, despite it only being 4pm.
Once we were through passport control, we were greeted by our tour guides and given our coach name whilst the kids were entertained by some mischevious elves.
Just outside the airport was a Finnish lady dressed in traditional clothes and a reindeer to greet us before we boarded our coach for the 25 minute transfer to Saariselkä.
As we arrived at our destination, our first stop was to pick up our arctic thermals, which was surprisingly swift and painless, as the staff can work out your size just by looking at you. We emerged with two bin bags full of gear for the family, under strict instructions to try them on once we had checked in, in case we needed to change any.
Next stop was the Saariselkä Inn, where we were staying and we hopped off the bus to get settled into our room before a meeting to discuss plans for the next day.
Our meeting point was the traditional Finnish Pub, a short two-minute walk (or sled ride) from our room. The kids were entertained by the staff which meant that none of the surprises that were happening the next day were spoiled and then it was time for a buffet dinner at the nearby hotel, Tunturi.
Having started the day at 5am, the kids were all ready for their beds so we got our heads down early, ready for our Search for Santa Day the next day!
To be continued………