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Travelblog Gone with the Wine

Travelblog and lifestyleblog. Life under the Californian sun - Gone with the Wine. Trips, food and wine from all over the world. Solo and family adventures.

Filtering by Tag: Kemi

Seaside Glass Villas and SnowExperience365 in Kemi, Finland

Paula Gaston

*Our trip was made possible by Experience365,
but as always, all opinions are my own.

Our summer in Finland is going great, and last week, like every summer, we decided to drive up to Kemi, Lapland. We usually visit some family there, cross the border to Sweden and do some shopping. This time however, we were also honored to be guests at Experience365. We stayed a night in one of their glass villas by the sea, and visited a year-round snow castle. Many people know about the huge snow castle they build every winter, but SnowExperience365 is a totally new thing, and open even in the summer.

Seaside Glass Villas and SnowExperience365 in Kemi

Seaside Glass Villas and SnowExperience365 in Kemi



The Seaside Glass Villas were opened at Kemi’s SnowCastle area in 2016. They are small, log cabins, which offer an exotic choice of accommodation over the normal hotel rooms. The villas have a glass ceiling, and two glass walls, so that the guests are able to enjoy the ocean view or the stars in the night sky. Now in the summer time, it is of course the midnight sun, but in the winter time you can see the Northern Lights if you are lucky. Next to the villas there is a caravan area for those who travel in RV’s.

Seaside Glass Villa in Kemi, Finland

Seaside Glass Villa in Kemi, Finland

Even though the villas are quite small, they have everything you need. Even a small kitchen. Since everything is new, the villas are clean and nice. When I heard about the night in the villas, I was wondering whether there was a toilet or a shower in them. Well, I can tell you they managed to fit both inside. The warm water only lasts for 13 minutes though, but that was enough for both my and my kids showers. There is also an A/C and a heater.

Because two walls are glass, there is a lot of light in the villa even when you close the curtains. They left us eye masks to keep out the light while sleeping. After the sun turned away in the evening, we opened the curtains and were amazed by the beautiful the view. So tranquil! We didn’t really have a reason to open the curtain in the ceiling since the sun was so bright, but we of course wanted to see what it would look like open. And I wanted to take a couple of photos for my blog. At that point, I started wondering how to open it, since I couldn’t reach that high, and there was nothing in the villa that I could use as to help. I got some help for this from hotel reception. The curtains are opened with a special stick and you have to be very careful, since the paper curtains can break easily. Maybe some other mechanism would be better since the whole reason to stay in a villa like this, is to look at the sky from the glass ceiling.

The villa from inside

The villa from inside


Very close to the villas there is a public beach, frisbee golf course and a playground. However, we didn’t have time for them since the Tivoli was in town. Tivoli is a carnival that tours around Finland and my kids had never been to one. After that we walked to a restaurant area by the coast and had dinner.

After a good sleep in the villa, we woke up to a beautiful sunrise and headed to breakfast in Lumihiutale restaurant. “Lumihiutale” is Finnish for snow flake. The breakfast was set up nicely and we ate on a balcony with the most amazing view of the ocean!

Lumihiutale restaurant with a beautiful view

Lumihiutale restaurant with a beautiful view



SnowExperience365 offers an inside space to play in the snow and ice in -5C temperatures (23F). It is located inside the main building, right next to the glass villas. Most of the space is taken by the beautiful ice restaurant, where the tables are made of ice and the chairs are covered by reindeer fur. There are ice sculptures, an ice castle and a fun ice slide. In order to slide on the ice, you should dress warmly. Our kids got in overalls, boots and a funny SnowCastle hat from reception to use inside. For adults they had some warm blankets.

The SnowExperience365 space is not huge, so it doesn’t take long to walk through it. However, our kids could have stayed there for hours just to do the slide. The same building also has a reception, souvenir shop, Day Spa, ice cream bar and a restaurant. When staying in one of the glass villas, you get to visit the SnowExperience365 for free. Otherwise, you will have to purchase a ticket from reception. In the winter time, there is also another huge SnowCastle outside in this area.

Main building

Main building

Entrance to SnowExperience365 and ice cream bar

Entrance to SnowExperience365 and ice cream bar

SnowExperience365 in Kemi, Finland

SnowExperience365 in Kemi, Finland

Ice restaurant in SnowExperience365

Ice restaurant in SnowExperience365


We had a fun time in this beautiful place! I really enjoyed the Seaside Glass Villa we stayed in, and I would love to come back in the winter time, when you can see some snow, ice and maybe even the Northern Lights from the windows. But I think the kids enjoyed their “SnowExperience” the most! Maybe we will be able to return to Finland in the winter, and visit Kemi again.


10 Travel Pictures from My Past, Vol 3

Paula Gaston

Every once in a while you can see some travel picture blog challenges going around. I have done it twice and showed you some pictures from my trips around the world. It is always fun to see people's travel photos, and it is even more fun to find some from your own albums. So many memories! 

So here it comes! Travel Pictures from My Past, Vol 3. The first photos you can find from here:

10 Travel Pictures from My Past
10 Travel Pictures from My Past, Vol 2




This photo quickly became one of my favorites. My family! And now we also have one more tiny traveller, but when the photo was taken, we were only three people. This picture was taken in Nara, Japan. We visited Todaiji Temple to see the world's biggest Buddha. The temple is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and it truly was worth going to. 



When we travelled to Japan, I was dreaming about seeing a geisha. Then I found out, that it is actually pretty difficult to find them, and there is only 200 of them left. One night we were strolling around the Gion Geisha District when we heard this jingling noise. Suddenly a geisha walked by us. That night, we ended up seeing several geishas on their way to work. I will never forget it!



On our Christmas trip last year, we stopped in Solvang, here in California. Even though I had been there shortly before, I was surprised how much I liked visiting this Danish style town. We walked around downtown, stopped in little shops and ate some danishes. Perfect! 



In California, when in need of paradise, it's time to head to Hawaii. There you can lay on the sand and snorkel in the turquoise water. I would really love to go snorkeling again. All those colorful fish and corals are so beautiful! This picture is from Big Island.



We have driven through Nevada several times, and it looks like this at it's best and worst. The total freedom to do what ever you want and go where ever you want! It is both exciting and a little bit scary to drive through the open desert. On this trip we drove through an Indian reservation, saw some Joshua Trees and wild horses, and got stuck in a snow storm. Anything can happen in Nevada!



It is pretty cozy to stuff yourself inside the smallest pub in England with a bunch of other people for a pint. And I can tell you, the pub is really tiny! But it was fun to visit there. 



It is absolutely a luxury to fly in business class sometimes, especially when flying with All Nippon Airlines. The service was spotless, and the food was way better than that served in many restaurants with lots of stars. If I could always fly like this, I wonder if I would always arrive as happy and without jet lag to my destination.



The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the most beautiful buildings I have seen. Many pictures from Japan could have also been used here, but I decided to go with this one from Saint Petersburg, Russia. The whole city is full of beautiful buildings on the inside and outside. 



I am still a little bitter about the way my trip to Israel and Jordan went. I was picked up by the border control at both borders for a special check up. In Jordan, a whole bus load of people had to wait for me to get through border control. In the end, everything went well, and my trip was a success, but I still remember sitting in the back room of customs. Although, now it seems like one big adventure.



There are so many pictures that I could have used on this topic. Since we just had a baby six months ago, I haven't been able to visit Finland in a very long time. This is actually the longest, I have ever been without visiting my home country. I chose this picture from the Snow Castle of Kemi, since it has been several years that I have been there. We rarely travel to Finland during the winter, and every year I think how cool it would be to visit the Snow Castle again. Well, maybe next year...


In case you are interested in participating in this challenge, you can copy the list of the topics from here. Originally this was started by a Finnish blog Journey diary. If you do write a post about it, I would love to read it. Please link it to my comments, and also link my blog on your post so we can find each other's posts easily.

1. My all time favorite shot
2. A surprising situation
3. A gem found nearby
4. White sand and turqoise water
5. When I think about the word freedom
6. Idyllic life
7. Luxury is... 
8. The most beautiful arhitecture
9. A bittersweet memory
10. It has taken too long to go visit this place again


Missing Home This Summer

Paula Gaston

All these pictures are from my Instagram account. You can follow me @paulagaston

When you live abroad you are likely to have moments when you miss your home country. For me that mostly happens during summertime when everyone is posting pictures of the summer in Finland. Lakes, ice cream cones, blueberry pies and pictures of nightless nights. And believe me or not, I also miss a real thunder storm which people have been talking about recently. We don't really get a lot of them here in California.

Unfortunately, this summer we had to skip our trip to Finland. But I am already dreaming about next summer. I have read about many interesting places there that I would like to visit when I get a chance. I really wonder why I never went to these places when I was still living in Finland. It isn't before you have already moved, that you realise that you never visited the cool places of your childhood hometown or near it. I think we need more than just one trip to visit all these places. 

Last summer I spent some time mostly in my home town Kokkola where all the pictures above are from. The old town in Kokkola, Neristan, is very nice during the summer and you can sit by the ocean and look at the midnight sun. The picture on the right is from Evijärvi lake. I would love to dip into it this summer; it beats the pool anytime!

I also spent some time at our friend's house in the city of Vaasa. It used to be my home for 3 years when I was doing my bachelor's degree. I can't understand that even then I had not visited the Old Town Vasa ruins, the church or Söderfjärden. Next time, when my american husband visits Finland, I will be sure to take him here. 


Then we drove up north to a town called Kemi to meet my relatives. There is always something fun going on in this town. Kids can drive a pedal car and learn traffic rules at a traffic park for free, and get their very own junior driver's license. Santa Claus had just opened an office downtown and was inviting all the kids over. Santa lives in Finland you know. On our way back home, we stopped at Ylivieska where they were grieving the loss of their church, which was burned down by an arsonist. It was pretty touching. 

All this used to be so close to me when I was living in Finland. After moving abroad, I realised how many places there were in my home country that I had never seen. It's almost like you take them for granted, since they have always been there. I hope we are able to travel back to Finland soon and go visit some beautiful places there!

Do you leave abroad? How often do you get to visit home?




A Quick Trip to Sweden and Winter Sports in Kemi, Finland

Paula Gaston

Again we had a long drive in front of us when we had to return to my parents house from Finnish Lapland. Luckily we got a little break from driving when we stopped at the city of Kemi at my relatives' house. We chose a different route than what we used when going to Ylläs and we stopped at Vihreä pysäkki in the city of Pello to eat. I had a traditional Lappish reindeer stew (yes, we do eat Rudolph in Finland) which is served with mashed potatoes and lingonberries, and my husband ate the reindeer pot. They were both delicious.  

During our short stay at my relatives' in the city of Kemi we got to try old fashioned sleighing 'Napakelkka' on the ice of a frozen lake. I went for a short cross-country skiing trail around the lake and we drove across the border to Sweden. Kemi is very close to the border and people often drive over the another side for shopping. There is no customs due to Schengen zone and going there is very quick and easy. We stopped at the world's biggest candy store and then drove back. So much fun!