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This Texan Is Going to Lapland!

Last week, when I posted about how I quit my job to be closer to my family, I mentioned that I had a trip starting nine days after I arrived. This will be the longest, most epic trip of my five-month sojourn to Europe, and I know I will need a good portion of April, which I’ll be spending with my family back in England, to get over it.

As you might have guessed from this post’s title, this trip is to Lapland!

You would be forgiven for thinking that my not-to-successful trip to Swedish Lapland last year would have made me a bit gun shy about going back. After all, I broke my leg and spent long, sleepless nights gazing out the window at clouds that refused to part to let me see the green lights dancing behind.

On the flip side, I also spent a day with the most adorable husky team ever, sledding through an enchanting, snowy landscape. I got to jump naked into the snow. And best of all, I got to experience the complete silence of an Arctic winter’s night, a profound silence that you can never know in a city.

Porjus Station House

When I took this photo, all I could hear was the crunch of snow under my boots and the click of the camera shutter.

Plus, having grown up in Texas and migrated to Brisbane, I’ve never truly experienced snow. Sure, we got snow once every ten years in Houston, but it melted as soon as it hit our outstretched hands, destroying our dreams of creating a monster snowball to throw at our siblings. This means I’m still fascinated by places as snowy and well, Arctic, as the Arctic Circle. Still, this won’t stop me from taking a knee brace to protect me from the occasional fall…and some Yaktrax to try to stop those falls in the first place!

Where in Lapland am I going?

Initially, I planned on heading back to Swedish Lapland, but once I started putting my trip together, I knew it would be silly to limit my trip to one country. How could I miss the fjords of Norway or the wide open fells covered by Finnish reindeer?

Instead, I decided to try to split my travel roughly evenly between the countries. That plan worked until I realised that the Sami Easter Festival — a festival with its own Eurovision contest and where tourists can compete in reindeer races — was being held in Norway at the end of my trip. No way I was going to miss that!

As a result, my itinerary ended up looking a bit like a spiral…

View A Texan Goes to Lapland 2013 in a larger map

What am I doing there?

My trip is all about winter adventures, many of which can only be found in the Arctic.

In the Lofoten Islands, where my trip starts, I will be going for a chilly snorkel in the fjords. I’m still not certain this is a good idea!

Rorbuer in Reine

Reflections and rorbuer in Reine.

In Tromsø, I will be snowshoeing under the northern lights one night with Tromsø Villmarkssenter and dogsledding, snowmobiling, and staying in a Sami tent in the wilderness, courtesy of Lyngsfjord Adventure, the next. I will also be watching the bearded seals of the Polaria Aquarium courtesy of Visit Tromsø.

I’m looking forward to two cruises on Hurtigruten from Lofoten-Tromsø and Tromsø-Honningsvåg. In Honningsvåg I will do a day trip to Nordkapp, which at 71° north is the northernmost point on the European mainland.

The End of the World at Nordkapp

Pretty much the weather you would expect at 71 degrees north.

Once I cross into Finland, Visit Finland has helped to organise an amazing itinerary for me. In my first stop, Inari, I will visit Siida, the museum of the Sami, and stay in the Hotel Kultahovi right next to some river rapids that I hope to photograph at night. On top of that, I’ll be visiting a reindeer farm and learning how to cook Lappish delicacies with Visit Inari!

Then I’ll be going on an overnight husky trip with Kamisak Farm where I’ll learn how to mush my own team. Having spent some time with huskies last year, I can’t wait to get close to the dogs again!

In Kakslauttanen, I will be staying in one of the coolest pieces of architecture ever — a glass igloo where I can lie down and watch the northern lights from the comfort of a warm room! When I’m not doing that, I’ll be channeling my inner Yoshi as I race around an ice karting track. I’ll have to restrain myself from throwing banana peels at people!

The northern lights dancing over lit (and very reflective) igloos.

The northern lights dancing over the glass igloos of Kakslauttanen.

In Kemi, my last stop in Finland, I will be spending a night in the stunning — but cold — SnowCastle before snowmobiling out to the Sampo icebreaker ship, where I’ll get to put on a thermal survival suit and float in the Gulf of Bothnia!

Once I cross into Sweden and visit the church village in Luleå, I’ll be heading north to Jokkmokk, where I’ll be reuniting with Arctic Husky Adventures and going on a day trip with Karin and Liza Minnelli. I’ll also be revisiting the Northern Lights Apartments in Porjus…and hopefully not breaking my leg on the way!

I’ll be spending a night on the ice blocks of the original IceHotel in Jukkasjärvi and hopefully taking a class in ice carving the next day.

Blue Marine Suite at the IceHotel

Blue Marine Suite at the IceHotel.

Finally, I’ll spend a few days at the Sami Easter Festival in Norway, heading back across the border to Finland to sleep because I didn’t book a hotel in time. I think that part of my trip is going to be a real adventure, especially if I get to race some reindeer!

Even though that sounds like a huge amount, it’s only a sample of what I’ll be doing during the day. My nights are fully booked for northern lights watching, and I’m hoping that the clouds clear at least once during the month that I will be there. Fingers crossed the great weather that Abisko has been having — where they’ve been able to see the northern lights for 14 days straight — sticks around!

Starting March 3rd, follow me on Facebook, Twitter (where I will be using the hashtag #TexanInLapland), Instagram, and on this blog to see all of the Arctic adventures that this Texan gets up to!

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7 Responses to This Texan Is Going to Lapland!

  1. Tracey February 22, 2013 at 10:06 am Reply

    So jealous. Seriously. Can I stow away with you? My family will cope without me, right? Have an amazing time!! Looking forward to seeing photos and hearing about your adventures.

    • Kristin February 23, 2013 at 6:20 pm Reply

      LOL Tracey! I don’t know if your family could cope without you, but you could try it, right? I’ll do my best to post as much as possible so you can live vicariously through my posts, and hopefully you get to travel more soon!

  2. Hayley February 22, 2013 at 3:26 pm Reply

    I am so excited for you Kristin! Have a fantastic time and I can’t wait to read all of your tweets and updates.

    • Kristin February 23, 2013 at 6:21 pm Reply

      Thanks Hayley! I can’t wait to be there although I will admit I’m a bit nervous about some things (snorkeling especially)! The other thing I haven’t quite worked out yet is when I am going to sleep. Activities all day, northern lights watching & photography all night…so surely I can go a month without sleep right?!

  3. Andrew February 23, 2013 at 2:41 am Reply

    Looks awesome. Especially the dogsledding and the glass igloos. Hope to do make it to Rotterdam, looking forward to hearing about the trip.

    Oh, and bring a jacket and a hat. Looks cold.

    • Kristin February 23, 2013 at 6:23 pm Reply

      I’m so excited about the dogsledding and the glass igloos! I can’t believe I’m going to get a chance to learn how to mush my own team! I’m kind of hoping to get my “international reindeer driving license” in Finland too. It would be so useful back in Australia.

      I hope you can make it to Rotterdam too! It’d be great to catch up again. If not, I’m hoping to make it to Germany at some point before I leave.

      And yes, it does look a tad cold, doesn’t it? I’ve got an entire backpack full of warm clothes. Hopefully it’s enough!

  4. Satu VW February 24, 2013 at 5:55 pm Reply

    Your itinerary sounds AMAZING! I’ve been doing activities with both Tromsø Villmarkssenter & Lyngsfjord Adventure and loved both. I’m off to Lofoten in April, really looking forwards to it and interested to read about your experiences there! Do you know when you’ll be in Inari? That’s exactly where I’ll be in about 2 weeks time 🙂

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