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#IntlTravelogue: Into the icy winter of Santa’s Lapland

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Ever been to the Finnish home of Santa ? Well Ramesh has spent his 2015 Christmas there. Discover what it’s like to be a Sri Lankan in Lapland’s winter.

So over this Winter Break I managed to leave the wet and rainy Netherlands on a journey to Denmark and Finland. Copenhagen, beyond the Little Mermaid and the colored houses along the canals, was just like any other metropolitan city. Therefore I would like to write about the heights of my trip to Northern Finland which was an amazing and unforgettable experience.

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The Little Mermaid

To start off, I booked the tour with Timetravels, which arranges numerous student trips throughout the year. I would very strongly recommend them to anyone deciding to travel to this region, as it is very well-organized and very professional, and has a customizable itinerary. It will definitely be worth your money, and you will not have the hassle of arranging the details of your itinerary.

For this trip I travelled with a group of Indonesian friends, and on the trip I met some amazing people from a numerous countries like Russia, Belarus, Iran, Finland, China and Italy, to just name a few. So, our group set off on the 27th night from Helsinki by bus, and after a nights travel we arrived in Rovaniemi where we went to the Arktikum Museum and the off to the more exciting Santa Claus village.

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Meet Mr. Claus

Even though the Santa Claus village has been created for children, it is still possible to rekindle one’s childhood dream of meeting the “real” Santa Claus. Here you will be able to send postcards to your friends and family as well as literally cross the Arctic Circle.

We arrived late that night in Vasatokka, and decided to all go out for a walk, and to our good fortune we were able to see a glimpse of the world-famous Northern Lights. In addition to this, looking up at the clear sky filled with starts and free from any form of light pollution is an amazing sight. This is guess, is the advantage of staying in Vasatokka, to which the closest settlement is 10 miles away (Inari), and the closes hospital is a 3 hour journey by car.

In the evening of the 29th,  we put on our snow shoes and started tracking across the deep snow in search of clues towards our midnight BBQ site. There is indeed something very appealing in lighting a wooden fire and roasting your food by yourself after tracking for an hour in the snow.

On the following day, we all drove up North across the Finish-Norwegian border to one of the most remote settlements. This tiny village has just one shop, one restaurant, one school, a canning factory and no police.

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Norway!

Everyone knew everyone in the village, and you could see how tightly knit their community was. While here, we were able to get one of those once in a lifetime opportunities of jumping into the freezing Arctic Ocean, after getting warmed up in the Sauna. I truly recommend  this to anyone if you ever get a chance, even if you detest the cold, after all how many people among us can say that they jumped in the Arctic Ocean at 0C. And for whoever is not willing to take this huge step, atlas you should try the sauna followed by rolling around in the snow…

Thankfully, I did not catch a cold after the swim, and on the last day of 2015 we were taken to a traditional Sami reindeer farm. We got to feed the deer as well as have a sleigh pulled by these beautiful creatures.

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Selfie with the Deer

But, what was even more exciting, was when we were herded  into a traditional hut with the roaring fire in the middle, and the Indigenous Sami people shared their culture and sang traditional songs. It is during these moments, do you truly begin to appreciate the uniqueness and diversity of cultures of different Traditional Peoples.

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Sami People

You realize that our urbanized, smoke-filled and noisy way of life may not be the best. While I may not be ready to give up my internet and Apple products, it was indeed a nice reflection and a breakaway from all the business of city life.

On that night, to celebrate the coming of the New Year, we went to the frozen lake in Vasatokka, did some fireworks and drank champagne. An amazing start to 2016!!

On the last day of out trip, we first went to a Ski resort. This was probably the worst part of my trip, because of my failed attempts at skiing. After falling a dozen times, I would strongly recommend anyone who is new to this, to enlist the help of an instructor before you seriously injure yourself and dislocate your shoulder. But, my trip ended on a wonderful note – the Husky Safari. I was able to control my own sleigh which was driven by 6 huskies for around 5km. Truly enjoyed this, and would gladly try this again.

PC310087.JPGSo in conclusion, this trip was a spectacular end to 2015 as well as an amazing beginning to 2016. Would recommend this to everyone, as not only is in perfectly organized, but also because this trip to Lapland will broaden your worldview, and you’ll make new friends, and wonderful memories that will last a lifetime…

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