This year there was not a real winter at all, so I was very happy about the opportunity to visit the North of Finland. Never mind that it was the middle of April already – I flew 250 km above the Arctic Circle – to Lapland, where the winter lasts seven months.
The aeroplane of the Finnish airlines landed on the northern-most airport in the European Union. This small but international airport is called Ivalo. Remote on the map but easily accessible by a 1,5-hour flight from Helsinki.
A van was waiting to bring us to the arctic resort whose name I still have a problem remembering – Kakslauttanen. Hardly two minutes passed and a reindeer crossing traffic sign appeared near the road. Within our half-hour ride, we met the sign three times but no reindeer.
We were brought to the reception building. In front of it, there were several wooden sledges standing on the snow.
It was only when I received the key from my cabin that I understood the purpose of those sledges. You should transfer your luggage from the reception to your new home on it by yourself. Then you do not have to pay for anything. If you want someone to help you there is a 9 Euro per person luggage handling fee!
The resort is divided into two villages, the East and the West one. Except for the key, I received also a map to help me to find my cabin in the East Village.
The log cabins are huge (they can fit 4-6 people).
I was to pull the sledge on the last few meters when I saw a beautiful big white rabbit still standing in the snow and watching me. I was sure if he had suddenly started to speak I would have started running towards him like Alice. I promptly took out my camera and click! But when I tried to change the lens the rabbit turned around slightly and in a flash jumped away somewhere into the winter landscape. Never mind, wonders can happen not only in fairy tales!
The log cabins are built from Kelo wood. It is a special pine that comes exclusively from Lapland. It grows very slowly due to the very low temperatures. When the tree reaches a certain age, the needles and branches fall off and the roots stop receiving the necessary nutrition, the tree dries out. Dried out trees remain standing vertically, that’s why they call them “dead standing“. All the walls of the cabins are made from this special wood, grey trunks of dried-up trees are a perfect fit.
Inside the cabin, you will also find a lot of wood. A huge wooden bed, a wardrobe, a table, a rocking chair… Even the frame on the mirror and the handle on the door are made from this solid wood.
A huge fireplace dominates the bedroom. Behind the door next to the fireplace is a sauna. To put the sauna into operation was not such a problem for me, but it was not as easy with the fireplace. There were some logs in the case but no paper, no old newspapers. I was told to peel the log bark and use it for making fire. But the wood was damp, it did not burn. I sacrificed a page from a shining flyer, but can you imagine, it did not want to burn either! The wood did not burn, the flyer paper did not burn, slowly I was giving up. But in the end, I managed! By means of toilet paper! 🙂 My hand smelled of smoke, nevertheless, I was proud of myself – 200 km above the Arctic Circle surrounded by peace and quiet of the wilderness after having a sauna I was watching blazing flames and thinking about the white rabbit… Every day I was getting better and better in making fire, every day it took me less time.
Much later I noticed that on all fireplaces in restaurants and other common places there were small puppets of elves. They were dressed in red small clothes and caps and instead of heads they had only a shag of black hair. On the fireplace in my log cabin, there were neither elves nor gnomes. Maybe that is why the fire did not want to start burning. But I am sure that at least one elf must have been hiding somewhere in my cabin as well…
You will meet wood everywhere here. Look at the pictures from some interiors in this arctic resort – beautiful plain tables, chairs and different decoration objects, beams, but also solid columns which are standing here like the drying trees. This adds a pleasant and warm atmosphere to these rooms.
I was fascinated by the lamps as well. They had either a form of a whirl made from several antlers or of different flowers. These lamps were hanging as flowers cascades above the tables.
A stay in this resort is mainly for those who want to escape the noise and dirt of big cities at least for several days. For those who long for being disconnected from the outside world. There are no TV, Wi-Fi and phones in the cabins. What to do in the evenings then? To read books at the fireplace and relax in the sauna. To enjoy the peaceful atmosphere behind the thick old wooden walls. And after that Buorre idja! Good night! But I have to confess that sometimes I had a strange feeling. Especially in the sauna. If I went sick I really do not know who would and when would they find me. There was a telephone number on the papers with the map (nobody pointed it out to me if I had not read all the papers I would not know it) but I had only my mobile phone and who takes the phone inside the sauna? Also, I was worried that a call would be useless as the reception closed at 23… So you could do only one thing: to rely on the mercy of the resident elves. But it was possible that I had all of these worries because I made this trip alone. So I was alone in the cabin, alone in the sauna, alone at the fireplace… The arctic resort Kakslauttanen is the place where people are coming mostly in pairs. Many even arrive to get married or spend their honeymoon here! There is a glass chapel for exchanging rings and kissing the bride, in the winter months directly below the blazing Northern Lights!
Every year a chapel is built out of snow. The bride and groom kneel on reindeer hides before the ice altar. There are also some statues cut out of ice, a swan among them – a very important symbol in the Sami culture. Roses in the ice vases look a little bit sad, their beauty had frozen and became dark. A small leaf managed to stick on freezing ice and – trapped in a transparent cold wall – is now waiting as an enchanted princess for the time when everything will start to melt and the leaf will break free from the ice captivity.
Weddings have been arranged here for 17 years, nearly 500 mainly foreign couples with different religions and beliefs said their “I do” here…