We booked the holiday with Canterbury Travel, 13 months prior to our trip actually taking place. This was a four day tour to Luosto, Finland and our one was called the Magical Interlude Tour. We flew out of Gatwick airport on Friday 20th December with British Airways and flew to Rovaniemi. The flight took about 2.5 hours and as it was solely a Canterbury Travel tour, there were lots of games on-board, the flight deck was decorated with tinsel and fairy lights, and the crew were in particularly fun and mischievous moods! This set the scene really well for the start of the trip and got everyone into a fun festive spirit.
When we arrived in Luosto each family was each taken their accommodation. We opted to stay in a log cabin, which was a good size (as little time was spent actually in it) and had appropriate facilities such as a log burner, sauna and boot dying cupboard. Staying in a log cabin meant that for breakfast and dinner we would grab a sledge (as they are everywhere so you just pick up any one to use) and walk to the allotted restaurant. For those who didn’t want to go outside too much (as it was -21 the night before we got there!) there is the option to stay in a hotel, whereby breakfast and dinner are all within the hotel. My girls loved heading out in the dark morning and evening – as it doesn’t get light until around 11am and then starts to get dark at around 2pm – and so the log cabin was the right choice for our family.
Once we arrived and unpacked we headed to the restaurant and Greg had to take the ‘items’ (these were the code names for the presents from Santa and the girls letters to Santa) and dropped these off to the staff in the pre-arranged location.
This was so special as we were able to feed these gentle giants and then proceeded to walk to the area where we climbed aboard our sledges and we pulled along through the woods by the reindeers! It really was magical and the blankets were welcomed as the temperature had dropped. After a 40 or so minute sleigh ride we then went into a large log cabin for hot refreshments and to meet the reindeer farmer, who told us all there is to know about reindeer – it really was very interesting! After this we walked 100 metres to the restaurant for a lovely hot lunch.
After lunch and as the sun was going down we headed next door to the husky farm – there were over 200 husky dogs, from 8 weeks old upwards, who all lived outdoors in covered pens (apparently the dogs' favourite temperature is -20!!). We went into a tepee for some warm berry juice and the lady who ran the farm told us all about husky dogs and how they run the place – we even met a puppy who I could have quite happily taken home with me!! We then headed off to our own husky ride – Greg was standing at the back of the sledge, while me and the girls sat on it and he steered six huskies through the woods! We followed the guide on her skidoo and with a head torch and six eager dogs we were off and hurtled through the dark woods – it was fast and amazing and to my surprise the girls absolutely loved it and laughed all the way around the track! Once we finished this we all headed back to the coach and through a snow blizzard to the skidoo park, where the children and adults could all have a go – it was a bumpy ride on the skidoos but a lot of fun!
After a busy and fun packed day we got on the coach and headed back to our log cabin, to change and go out for dinner – it certainly built up an appetite and the buffet was lovely with a good variety of options to choose from. Sledging back to the log cabin after the meal, we then all slept very well!
After this we were told that the elf ‘Wendy Wood’, who makes all of the wooden toys, needed each family to come and help her clear all the sawdust from her home and the family with the most sawdust would be the winners....! We were then taken by skidoo and sledge up to Wendy Woods house and our family was called up first to go into her house, with our big boot bag, and collect the sawdust. The girls were totally up for this and were looking forward to being the winning family!! When we got into the house an elf met us and led us up the stairs where we suddenly met Mrs Claus, who was funny and friendly and chatted to us for a while, and then got the girls to so some magic and the book case moved to reveal a door and through the door was another elf! We followed the elf back down the stairs and suddenly there was the man himself, Santa Claus! The girls were so shocked and were the most polite I have ever known them to be!! He had their letters (that they had sent up the chimney two weeks previous) and talked through their lists and gave them each a gift (which we had to put into the boot bag). Another door opened and there was Tricky Dicky to meet us and take us back outside and to tell us not to tell anyone about the secret – which they loved and proceeded to go outside and tell everyone we had a big bag full of saw dust!! It was so well executed, especially for my daughter who was nervous about the thought of meeting Santa. While the other families had their turns, we played in the snow with other elves.
For us, this was a once in a lifetime, memory making, bucket list ticking adventure and was just amazing – it feels like a dream when I look back at my photos – which I have to add were taken with my iphone as I didn’t want to risk taking my work camera and it being dropped or freezing up in the low temperatures!
I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog as much as I have enjoyed writing it and re-living this amazing trip! I can’t wait to take the girls on more adventures as they grow and feel that this is just the start! If you have any questions or comments please feel free to add them below.
The McNeil family x