Can you even imagine the excitement as we sat in the airport at 7am waiting to go and spend the day in Lapland with the promise of meeting the ‘real’ Santa?
Oh, it was huge.
We were invited to travel to Lapland with Transun on one of their Winter Wonderland day breaks.
The plane journey was 3 hours. Lapland are 2 hours ahead of us and it was dark when we landed (a photographers NIGHTMARE: Dark and freeeezing. Minus 18 when we landed. It got colder).
So we were coached to a centre where we were all kitted out quickly in snow suits and thermal boots and then a very short ride to the camp where there were reindeer rides, husky sledging, tobogganing and – the big prize – a family visit to the real Santa . . .
The snow suits were warm and toasty but boy oh boy did you need the extra hats, gloves and socks. Multiples of each one.
I actually got frozen cheeks. And had to borrow Dan’s spare socks . . .
But THIS is how much fun it was!
The ‘warm-up room’ for sipping complimentary hot chocolate, munching on ginger biscuits and sitting around a log fire. If you could shoehorn yourself in amongst all the other cold folks.
No no she wasn’t allowed to ride on alone! But she liked to pose.
I could try to describe the look of wonderment which passed over Mia’s face when she was asked if she would like to stroke the huskies, but I fear it would never match the moment.
And then we were whisked off to meet the man himself in his isolated log cabin. A sleigh built for 3 took us into the snow-covered woods, where we rode until in the distance we spied some fairy lights.
And there, at Santa’s log cabin, we had a personal family meeting with the man himself.
A moment so magical for me as a parent that I swear to you dear internet, I nearly forgot to take a photograph!
I whipped my camera out almost at the last minute and snapped this.
I don’t know if you can see it but there is an aura of Sheer Joy surrounding them.
A very long and very exhausting day.
They were back home and in bed at 1am.
I confess there were a couple of things which disappointed me. There wasn’t much ‘snow’ to play in. My kids wanted to throw themselves in virgin snow and make snowmen, but there wasn’t any opportunity for this.
Also there was no accounting for the fact that some children were a lot younger than others on the toboggan areas (my 5 year old was too afraid to go down the runs as there were a lot of older children on there going very fast, but there was nowhere separate for her to test out).
Having said that my two cared not a jot.
They threw themselves into all the fun with great abandon and literally crawled back to the coach at the end of the day with my 8 year old shaking his head every now and again and saying, almost to himself, “I can’t believe I’ve actually met the real Santa Claus”.
A couple of tips if you do decided to treat yourself:
- Take 2 cameras. And don’t take a ‘posh’ one.
I seriously struggled. You need to have it constantly zipped up safe and warm (I kept one our for 10 minutes and it suffered with serious condensation after putting away in it’s case) and to take a photo you need to take gloves off, get it out of your bag/pocket, unzip from case, take photo in the pitch dark with little or no surrounding lights, then put it all back again and get your gloves back on before your fingers freeze to the shutter button.
- Take more extra layers than you could possibly need.
Even the kids’ skiing gloves got wet and cold after a while. You’re there for a good few hours and you absolutely do not want to get cold. I saw one poor boy have to have plastic bags put on his feet to keep them warm!
Hats, gloves, scarves, socks – better to have too many than not enough.
- Take a rucksack and remember what is in what compartment.
I’m not joking when I say it’s dark there. You’ll be fumbling about in the dark forever.
- Pretend you’re 5/6/7/8 again and enjoy the magic.