Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Kakslauttanen here we come!

A good night's sleep set us up for the long journey ahead - 1.5 hours from Helsinki to Ivalo Airport. After grovelling out of bed at the inhuman hour of 7:30 we were ready to get the 9:00 Airport Taxi to Helsinki Airport.

Left with a couple of hours to kill after check-in, we had a coffee and picked up some essential honeymoon souvenirs - a full set of moomin figures. The journey had one notable innovation for us - the seats were unallocated. So we made sure we were at the head of the queue and had pick of the seats - an emergency exit aisle providing some extra legroom in this case.



A taxi picked us and some other holidaymakers up from Ivalo airport and transported us to Hotel Kakslauttanen - about 20 minutes south of Ivalo. The drive through snow covered woodland slowly preparing us for where we were going to spend the next few days. After check-in we went to find the glass igloo where we spending the first night. Surprisingly warm, the little igloo gives wonderful views out on to the wooded surrounds of the Hotel (and if you don't close the toilet door, wonderful views _in_ too!). We were ideally placed for viewing the Northern Lights later that evening...



We had a quick look around the grounds, including a snow igloo hotel and restaurant (not quite up to Ice Hotel standards) and returned to the main building for a spot of lunch - a wonderful rustic pork soup with bread. After lunch we hired some cross country skis and headed out in to the snow-covered forest. The beautifully maintained tracks took us through a Narnia-esque wonderland of snow laden pines. Apart from a few difficult uphill stretches we quickly picked up where we had left off and got in to the swing of things (although we did discover something new on a downhill stretch - Holly is faster downhill than I am , so to avoid collisions it's best if she goes first!). We must be getting better as today we don't ache all over - unlike our first day skiing!




After a quick siesta in the igloo we walked over to the main reception building for the 20:00 sitting of dinner. The information sheet had told us that dinner was at two sittings, one at 18:00 and the other at 20:00. This turned out to be a mistranslation from the original as watching other guests the true instructions seemed to be "turn up whenever you feel like it for dinner". As has become our custom we began dinner with some aperitifs - vanilla vodka and blueberry liqueur for me, and cloudberry liqueur with cranberries and some local spirit whose name I can't pronounce for Holly. The set menu consisted of Thai salad, Thai chicken with rice and veg, and apple fritter, and was surprisingly good. We finished off with a lappish coffee (an Irish coffee made with that local stuff) and a Bear Baw (cream, chocolate and more local liquor).

After fighting other guests in a bare knuckle tournament to get a go on the Hotel PC we managed to upload some pictures (see all posts updated below!) for your viewing pleasure. We walked back to our igloo and settled in to enjoy the spectacular display the Northern Lights had put on for us this evening. And I would have really enjoyed it too, if it hadn't been for the 500km thick layer of clouds between us and the night sky. AAARRGGGHHH! Even with alarms set for 2:00 and 4:00 the clouds lasted all night denying me my arctic dream. But never mind, we did make one discovery that brightened our evening. While picking my book up off the floor I spotted what appeared to be a remote control attached to the bed. Yes, we had Kraftmatic adustable beds! Half an hour later, with the motors thoroughly burnt out and having tried every possible combination of heads and legs raised and lowered we drifted off to sleep, watched over by the encircling arctic forest.



And now we have just got up, tried out the Kakslauttanen breakfast (very nice, but nothing new) and are killing some time before our log cabin is ready. Depending on when that happens we will either go for a sauna or do some more cross country skiing before going on our Northern Lights snow mobile extravaganza this evening (fingers crossed!).

See you soon,

Joe and Holly.

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