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Santa 2013

 

We went to Lapland on Sunday for a three day(ish) trip, which was absolutely wonderful.

It was an early start on Sunday, but one of the advantages of being a parent to a child who likes early mornings is that getting up at 5.30am isn’t that much of a chore! We got down to Gatwick in good time and the airport experience wasn’t quite as horrific as usual so I wasn’t in my usual bad grump about flying. The flight itself was a chartered Easyjet plane, referred to over the intercom by the cabin crew as the Santa Express. The cabin crew were really lovely and jolly – I guess it helps when everyone on there is in a good mood and looking forward to a lovely Christmas trip to see Santa – and the 3½ flight, er, flew by. Upon taxiing to the stand, A decided to vomit over me, which was rather unexpected and unpleasant, to say the least. The poor thing was so upset but we managed to clear her up and get her into a change of trousers, while I suffered until we got to our room at the hotel. Actually, the poor lady sat next to me on the coach was probably the one who really suffered, having to sit next to me for 30 minutes or so while I reeked of A’s vomit.

The Yaus in Lapland

We picked up our thermal gear on the way to the hotel. That was unbelievably well organised. They processed a whole coach load of people so quickly. The thermal suits, boots and gloves really did the job, along with the layers we brought with us. We actually lucked out with the weather when we were out in Lapland as it only got down to -6ºC on the second day and it was a balmy -3ºC on our final day, but even so I think the thermal suits would have kept us lovely and snug if the temperature had plummeted.

We stayed in the Gielas wing of the Tunturi hotel in Saariselka. The photos on the Santa’s Lapland site don’t actually do the hotel justice as the room was much nicer and bigger than I thought it would be. I particularly liked the en suite sauna. There’s a very long toboggan run – apparently the longest in Europe, at 1.2km – just round the corner from the hotel so after we got cleaned up, A, P and I spent the afternoon failing to steer our toboggans and crashing spectacularly. Actually, A was really good and travelled in straight lines no problem. P and I were pretty bad, though.

P and A on reindeer sled

Our only full day in Lapland was billed as the ‘Search for Santa’ day. We were bussed out to a resort that’s only used by Santa’s Lapland customers, where we spent the day ice fishing, going on a reindeer ride, seeing a little show put on by elves in a massive igloo, having a drink in the ice bar (another massive igloo), tobogganing, trying our hand at a bit of skiing and, my favourite, going on a husky drive. Of course, we also had a search for Santa in the woods, which was the whole point of the trip. A, as is her way, didn’t show too much outward excitement but she was very happy to meet the real Santa and some real elves! The elves were really entertaining and even managed to put a smile on A’s face, which isn’t always that easy! A was really pleased with the little gift she got from Santa.

After getting back from the resort, we did some more tobogganing and I acquired more bruises on my bum and spine, and then we went to the ‘gala dinner’. The food was ok. There’s plenty of it, is probably the best I can say about it. The entertainment for the kids was pretty good. A doesn’t usually like to leave me and P and join in with activities, but she went without hesitation when the kids were called to the stage, which is testament to how lovely the Santa’s Lapland reps are.

P and A and husky

After a really good night’s sleep – all that playing in the snow takes it out of you! – we spent the final few hours of our stay spending a bit more time at the toboggan run before having a final sauna and then a little mooch around the shops for souvenirs before making the short trip to the airport. A reprised her ‘I don’t want to go home’ act from the Tenerife holiday we had a few years ago, and I really felt the same. It was a short break but a brilliant one, with memories that will last forever.

So if you’re thinking of taking a trip to Lapland, I’d highly recommend going with Santa’s Lapland. The flights were fun – clearly Easyjet have done these charter flights before and know how to look after the kids. The reps who look after you from the moment you arrive at the airport, throughout the stay, and right up to security at departure, are brilliant. The hotel we stayed at was lovely and I didn’t hear anyone complaining about the other hotels either. In fact, I didn’t hear anyone complaining about anything. And the resort was really well set up with great inclusive activities. Everything’s organised brilliantly, making the whole trip as magical as possible for the kids, which is what it’s all about in the end.