After a quick trip to Santa's Village in Rovaniemi, we drove even further up to Finnish Lapland. The drive to Ylläs was long and dark. It was December and there were only couple hours of daylight during the day. On our drive we saw a herd of reindeer but our view was mostly just forests. The little we could see at all. Right when we reached our destination, a deer jumped on the road and literally skated to the other side, that is how icy the road was. We were happy to get there alive.
Five days at Ylläs with friends went fast. We had planned a lot of outdoor activities and even more sauna activities. Sauna is after all, important to Finns and can be found in almost every home. I was especially happy that our little daughter got to play outside so much. The first day was fairly cold at -25C (-13F) and after a short sledding session, we decided to spend the evening inside our cabin. After that the temperature got a little warmer so we went outside three or four times a day for sledding or playing in the snow. So much fun! Kids loved it.
I was able to try downhill skiing again after nearly a 10 years break. After a slow start I soon noticed that I had not forgotten how to ski. We got some extra excitement from the weather conditions at the slopes. At the top it was very windy and it was snowing almost horizontally. Add the darkness to that and you know why I had to take it a little easier than I used to. Excuses, excuses... but anyhow it was fun.
On New Years Eve we visited a local zoo called Konijänkä and men in the house rented snow mobiles and drove us around with them on the trails. We had some traditional New Year's foods like potato salad, meatballs and sausages with sparkling wine of course. The most exciting part of the big night was the fire works. In Finland, it is legal to light some fire works yourself and you can buy them at any store during festive seasons. So we of course, bought some and fired them away into the dark night sky. I think it was as exciting for my American husband as it was for the kids. After the kids went to sleep we stayed up with the help of the sparkling wine and roasted some Finnish sausages in the fire place.
Ylläs is a very nice town even though I mostly remember the darkness and the jet lag from this trip. I missed those beautiful sunny spring days that I have enjoyed in Lapland. Most of the pictures I took came out very grey too. We were also sad that we didn't have a chance to visit the ice castle nearby with it's ice sculptures. But mostly the trip was succesful and and fun. What can beat hanging out with your family and friends, outdoors in Lapland, sauna and that famous Finnish sausage.