16 December 2014

Wish granted to see Santa Claus at Lapland

Our Magical Sojourn Begins
Day 1 – December 9th, 2014

First of all a massive thank you to The Make a Wish Foundation who granted Paige’s wish to see Father Christmas/Santa Claus
Her wish was granted last year, but Russell and I both felt that it was too soon after the end of her treatment and we wanted her immunity to be fully recovered to be able to withstand the arctic conditions. We also thought that at 4.5 years she would enjoy it a bit better and I have to say we made the right call! We had quite a seamless start to the journey. Imagine being greeted at the Gatwick airport by the BA staff who actually comes out from behind the counter to say ‘hello Paige how are you today?’ 
There were endless smiles all around, as the families checked in. Of course the VIP treatment began as we were seated in row 2, on the airbus. Whilst on the airplane in preparation for Lapland after a nice hot meal, imagine singing Christmas songs! Quite a bizarre but fun experience indeed.
When we landed at the Rovienemi airport, we were greeted by the elves and sent onto our allocated coaches. While on the coach we met Tyler our guide for the next four days and Grant his assistant. We listened to the Santa story on the coach. The story introduced Santa’s special elves, who featured throughout our magical journey. 
Snowy Bowy - makes all the bows for the presents, 
Tricky Dicky - makes alot of mischief



Speedy Sam - delivers all the presents,



Noisy Nod - makes a lot of noise, and carries a bell


Wendy Wood - makes all the wooden toys


Corporal Candy - makes all the candy. 
More about these elves later. We were quite lucky with the weather it was only -1C when we arrived, apparently it was -25C, same time last year. On the way to the hotel we crossed the Arctic Circle within 5 mins and we were officially in the North Pole. It was pitch black, of course as daylight ends at 1.25pm. Everywhere and everything was covered in snow, absolutely stunning! Just before we arrived at the hotel we were greeted by the special elves Snowy Bowy and Tricky Dicky. We also learnt the song In search of Santa or more easily the ‘Elf Song’. We collected our snow suits/boots and headed to the hotel for dinner. The kids wanted to play in snow immediately, and did I mention it was snowing..........

The adventure begins
Day 2 - December 10th, 2014

After a good night’s sleep our day started with Husky mushing! We had a 5 mins instruction session them we were off. Of course it’s about 9.30am so still quite dark. The huskies were very noisy and raring to go. Each sled was pulled by 6 huskies. Russell and I took turns, ‘driving’ and the kids sat in a sled. I have to say it was an absolutely awesome experience both as a passenger and as a driver! Driving was hard work, especially as I did the downhill bit! The kids absolutely loved it and they were not even remotely afraid! 


Afterwards we visited the kennels and the new babies that they had. Surprise, Samuel wants to be a husky trainer - but he'll have to wait another 12 years at least.


One of the babies



We also enjoyed some warm up games with Speedy Sam. It brightened up a bit by about 10.30am. Then we were off for a reindeer safari. This was two per sled so Samuel and sat together, next to this lovely creature.



It was quite a peaceful ride through the woods which was simply beautiful, as again all the tress were covered in snow and there was snow as far as the eye could see. Oh I forgot to mention that it was snowing from the moment we entered the coach at 8.50am and hadn’t stopped yet!



After the Reindeer safari, we were treated to some warm berry juice and the kids had a chance to feed the reindeers. Another of Paige's favourite activities. By now everyone was getting hungry so we went off to lunch. 


After lunch we rode, two by two snow mobiles or skidoos as they are called in Lapland. Again a very powerful machine, but quite a rush for us all! Afterwards we met Wendy Wood and Snowy Bowy in the Elf house. Mrs Claus was also there and gave us some of her yummy cookies. By now the kids are not even remotely tired because they are having so much fun!

Mrs Claus, with some of the elves at the back



The day still hasn't ended, next stop tobogganing in the dark! We then met Noisy Nod who seemed to recognise Paige’ and he started playing with her pulling her around in her sled then he took her back up the slope and came down with her J she was so pleased! Then she tried a hand at the kiddie skidoos and turned out to be a really good driver, of course she didn't want to stop or maybe hadn't quite worked out that she needed to let go of the accelerator! At the end of the day we went to the ‘Merry Elf’ a family pub, for further kids entertainment and Russell and I enjoyed some quiet time and much needed alcohol. Have I mentioned that every time we get on the coach we all have to sing the Elf song? We all had a solid 12 hours sleep that night! The favourite activity of the day was unanimous – Husky Mushing!!!! Samuel also wants to become a husky trainer, he has a bit of a wait though – 12 years. No luck today though we haven’t found Santa L

Rest Day
Day 3
We started the day Tobogganing at a nearby slope, 



both kids mastered this quite quickly doing special turns, going down on their butts or their fronts. 





I tried it as well and must admit it was a lot of fun! Afterwards we built a snowman. Really hard work I thought, so Paige enlisted the help of one of the nearby elves. 



After lunch, we gave in to the many requests to go swimming since the pool was literally outside our hotel door. That night we had a special visit from Snowy Bowy at our Hotel room. 


We didn't tell the kids, so when there was a knock on the door and Paige opened it. Her face absolutely shone, she was super pleased as Snowy Bowy has a light blue costume and looks a bit like Elsa from Frozen. Of course Snowy was Paige’s favourite elf. It was amazing how well briefed these guys are, upon arrival after greeting Paige she started singing, ‘Let it Go’ and they sang together,  d(see a short clip below) by this stage I was in tears, Samuel was covering his ears and Russell was scrambling for the camera! What a magical 25 minutes, well worth the money. Snowy spent so much time speaking with the kids that she didn't get a chance to read much of the story, but I don’t think that anyone really noticed or cared! Another magical end to a fabulous day in Lapland.

video


We found Santa!
Day 4 – December 12th
Our penultimate day started with a bit of Tobogganing, followed by a trip to the woods. 



We then got onto skidoo driven sled and headed deeper into the woods. We got to a beautiful wooden house and we were asked to help clean up the mess that Tricky Dicky made inside the house. 


We followed through, had a chat with Mrs Claus, then we met Wendy Wood who took us to meet Santa. I have to say the looks on the kids’ faces were absolutely priceless, there was Santa sitting on his chair in his house slippers. The beard look quite real and he had an indescribable air about himJ. Afterwards we played in the snow. If you would like to see the video of this visit please go to this site, there's an on site interview and at the bottom, there's a clip of the actual video with Santa.

http://canterbury-travel.chromaww.com/video.php?hash=30f4ca89a6ed043d


After our visit the kids played with the elves and simply rolled around in the snow - why not huh?


ate some snow


lay in the snow



We also enjoyed some warm berry juice and a nice big fire. After lunch we had another skidoo ride and played games in the dark with Noisy Nod and Corporal Candy.
Later than evening we went for a private ride in the forest on the skidoos, looking for the Northern Lights. Russell drove and I sat behind him, whilst the kids were on a sled pulled by the guide. It was completely dark and no signs of life in sight. Looking around in the forest, your mind begins to play tricks on you as many of the short trees or plants looked like animal forms as they were covered in snow. Very spooky. Unfortunately it was way too cloudy to see the sky, but we knew that before we left. Later that night there was a celebration dinner, followed by a disco attend by all the special elves. The kids had a blast and we didn't get back to the hotel till quite late. Another fun filled day and we found Santa!

Our Final Day
Day 5 – December 13th, 2014

A free morning, so why not have a final roll around in the snow and as Paige says let's ‘hit the slopes!’ We sang the Elf song for the last time as we headed for the airport.
Having never heard of Lapland prior to moving to the UK, this has been an absolute surreal experience for us all. Even the Grinch Russell managed to get into the spirit eventually. Paige and Samuel hopefully will remember this experience for the rest of their lives. The tour guides were superb and there was never a dull moment, it was so well organised and the special elves added that extra special touch. It certainly gave us quality family time together. 

For anyone that knows me well enough, it would all have to be extremely well organised to not have a single complaint! I must say that I am strangely looking forward to returning to England, I don’t think that I could cope with all that darkness for much longer! Barely 2.5 hours of not sunshine but rather light greyness just doesn't cut it for me!

Again a very special thank you to The Make a Wish Foundation in the UK, if you can please make a donation so that other wishes can be granted.........

Russell, Lisa, Samuel and of course our little champion Paige