Accommodation Options in the Arctic

It has been awhile but if you have been following my other social media channels, you would know that I was in Arctic Europe/Lapland for a week. You can check out my video here in case you have not seen it yet:

I understand that there is a huge fascination and interest to visit the Lapland region particularly for the Northern Lights and so I thought it might be useful to write a mini guide about the region. Partly also because I feel like most people only know about ONE resort in the area when there are so many other options to choose from.

Also if anyone tells you that the Northern lights are “disappearing”, I hope you know that the Northern lights is a natural phenomenon that no one can control although the locals did mention that they have seen some of the best Northern lights in their life this 2016/17 season.

When to visit:

This is possibly the most commonly asked question and because no one really knows when the Northern lights will go on display, you can only try to increase your chances by 1) Going as far north as possible, 2) Staying out in a dark dark place and 3) Pray for a cloudless night.

If you are afraid of the cold and hate snow, the local recommend the autumn season between Aug to Oct where the Northern lights would start to appear as the days get darker and you might have a chance of viewing a “Double Aurora” where the aurora reflects off a lake/river. You would not be able to do winter activities then but if you want to enjoy cheaper prices + fewer tourists and only want to chase the Northern lights then it is a good option.

However the most popular period of travel is between Nov/Dec/Jan where it is the darkest and coldest period. You would have to be okay with paying premium prices, squeezing with other tourists and dealing with the frigid cold (-20 to 30 degrees type of cold).

So personally if you were to ask me, I would recommend March as a good month to go because 1) There is still snow to do winter activities 2) There is more sun and daylight 3) It is not so cold 4) There are less tourists around and 5) You still have a good opportunity to see the Northern lights.

Where to stay

I think that we need to take price out of the consideration here because you have to be prepared to spend should you wish to visit Scandinavia. Instead we should consider what type of experience you would like to go for, other than viewing the Northern lights.

Rovaniemi

The most popular destination is Rovaniemi because it is marketed as the “Home of Santa Claus”. You can get there by plane or an overnight VR train from Helsinki.

There are many hotels to choose from including:

  1. Arctic Snow Hotel – They have a very cool Snow Sauna!
  2. Santa Arctic Circle Glass Igloos

It is a good place to go for an all rounded trip where you can visit Santa Claus, visit the Snowhotel, do winter activities and also pop over to Kemi to do the Ice Breaker that I did in this video:

However it is also the most commercial place to visit and you have to expect a lot of tourists.

Luosto

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If you would like to be near Rovaneimi but slightly further away from the crowd, you can consider Luosto which has these igloos at Santa Aurora Hotel and nearby there are log cabins as well at Lapland Hotel Luostotunturi.

In this area they have an Amethyst mine which I have not personally visited but know that it is quite a popular attraction there.

Nellim/Muotka

For a more homey, cosy experience, I would recommend visiting Nellim or Muotka. It is accessible via flight from Helsinki to Ivalo. These two places are run by a couple and they offer unique accommodation like…

This Aurora Cabin in Muotka:

Muotka Wilderness Lodge

These log cabins in Nellim:

Nellim Wilderness Lodge

And these Aurora Bubbles in Nellim:

Somehow when I was there, I felt very connected with nature and it felt like a very peaceful escapade. I believe that there are also good cross country skiing spots there too.

Kirkenes

It is also possible to combine a visit to Inari (near Muotka/Nellim) with a visit to Kirkenes as well. In Kirkenes they have a Snowhotel which is worth a visit, these cosy Gamme cabins as pictured above and King Crabs!

A fun fact is that you are actually helping the environment eating the King Crabs there because there are so many of them there that they are destroying the seabed and when they run out of food they actually…eat each other.

It was also in Kirkenes that I got to go on a local home visit which made the experience that much more special. It was so cute that the locals were so enthusiastic and excited to have us visit their homes. I believe that this activity can soon be booked through the Snowhotel in Kirkenes.

There are many other options of course but these are a few that I am familiar with and also enjoy working with. Hope this will be useful to anyone planning your next Northern Lights holiday!

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Swedapura Goes to Finland

It was a real treat to be “gifted” a trip to visit the Finnish Lapland and I spent three days going from Helsinki-Rovaniemi-Kemi-Helsinki-Turku-Stockholm. It was a crazy busy schedule but I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

It was my first time exploring Finland and what better way to do it than to go up north. It was not so cold anymore and I was in fact quite overdressed. So if you are afraid of the cold, I would recommend you to visit in March!

Some of the highlights of my trip includes:

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Getting a ride on a reindeer – I did not know that they could go so fast! In fact they were even faster than the huskies.

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Riding a snowmobile – I somehow ended up going solo on the snowmobile but loved every minute of it. Riding on the frozen open sea is just exhilarating.

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Ice Fishing – Well I am mostly proud of the fact that that hole you see right there was made by me. I had no luck with the fish but making the hole was a good workout in itself.

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Or wait…did I catch one? Hahaha!

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Floating in the Baltic Sea – Who would have thought that it is possible to float in the sea and not freeze to death?

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And for my most favourite memory of all…Meeting Santa Claus.

I don’t even believe in Santa Claus but seeing him felt like a fairytale/childhood story come to life and I just felt…ridiculously happy.

This trip was really a trip like no other and I am pretty sure I would make my way back one day.

For a better overview of my trip, check out my new video on Youtube here:

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Till the next time!

Winter Vibes

So coming back to frosty, snowy and dark Sweden after spending three amazing weeks in sunny Singapore was definitely not the easiest thing. I am not going to lie but the first few weeks of the year have been pretty rough for me, which partially explains my absence on this space. I am not sure if it was the cold, or the darkness, or the homesickness or just everything rolled into one but all I wanted was to either wake up when winter was over or (more rationally) fly back home and be back in the warmth of my family and friends in Singapore.

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I guess winter depression is real and being the girl who grew up in the tropics her whole life, going through my first full winter is no joke at all. Based on my conversations with other Swedes or people who have been living here for awhile, this is probably the coldest that Stockholm has ever been (yay?). Before I left for Singapore, the temperatures were hovering around 9-11 degrees and when I came back it was a nasty -15 degrees.

It almost feels like you can never win when my friends back home are telling me about how unbearably hot it is in Singapore and here I am trying to figure out how many layers I should throw on to ensure that I will not be shivering in the cold.

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I guess you could say that a part of me is very happy to have grown up in Singapore because I don’t feel like I “missed out” on anything growing up without snow. It is just not as fun in reality as compared to in the movies.

It took awhile but I must say that now that we are close to end of January, the days do seem less bleak and there is that hope that the days would just keep getting better with time.

I started trying to look around and appreciating what was around me versus constantly thinking about what I am missing out on (in Singapore).

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I must say that my favourite bits are:

1) When the snow is fresh and the sun/moonlight is reflecting off the snow and it just looks like a glitter explosion everywhere.

2) Catching the sunrise (because the sun rises so late) and the sky is a colourful paddlepop hue of pinks and blues.

3) When the snow comes in handy and can be used as instant ice packs in times of injury.

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So while these pictures are not the best representation of how I look/feel everyday, there are always moments to smile about.

Although I have been quiet on this space, I have been keeping up with Youtube and if you have not already seen my latest videos, do click on the thumbnails below to check them out!

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Am so glad that my parents were so spontaneous and made one of the videos possible (thank you Mum and Dad!). I had so much fun editing the videos and I hope you have as much fun watching them as well. Do keep a look out for more videos in the weeks to come!

Till the next time!

Julmarknad aka Christmas Market

It is the time of the year for Christmas markets here in Sweden (and probably the rest of the world too I know). Anyway, Irene and I went out to explore a little and soak in a bit of the festive spirit. It is her second Christmas here so she is definitely more aware of what to expect.

“You see those decorations hanging there? It was the same last year. In fact I think it is the same every year.”

So just so you know, you only need to come to Sweden for winter/Christmas once in your life. Just once and you would have seen it all. But maybe more to see me (haha!).

Anyway the market we went to was in Gamla Stan aka the Old Town and it was probably the one most worth checking out because 1) It is in Gamla Stan 2) It is free (no lame entrance fee unlike Skansen). 3) You will find proper Swedish products, unlike the random one in the city center.

You can expect to find groups of school children singing to raise funds for their school event, lots of Christmas ornaments, Swedish products like jam, bread, candy and booths selling glögg (what else do Swedish people drink in December right?).

With that said, it is definitely fun to have such things to look forward to and it makes the dark and gloomy December much more…exciting.

Till the next time!