My trip to Finland (part two)

 

I know I’m much overdue with sharing the rest of my Finland trip with each of you, but before I do, i think I should back up. You see, since I’ve been back, I’ve been inundated with the very same question: What were you doing in Finland? So I should probably explain.  After the Bachelor filmed in Finland, Visit Finland decided to invite a small group of fashion and lifestyle bloggers to visit the spots where Nick and his final three spent time. Naturally, I was included because of my totally normal, and not at all weird obsession with all things Bachelor. Over the course of five days, we visited the hotels and landmarks where Nick determined who was truly his soulmate (at least his soulmate for People Magazine covers.)

If you haven’t read it already (or just have bad short term memory, like Luke Pell) then please start here with the first half of my trip.

From left to right @mackenziehoran @possessionista @mushroomstew @jennlake @blakevond @carlyahill @katiesbliss @evaaurora

We travelled by van, exhausted and hungover, three hours south to Rovaniemi for what was supposed to be our “nice dinner.” One of my favorite things about Finland was how casual everything is. When the temperatures are consistently in the zeroes, and snow is waist deep everywhere, you quickly learn that snow pants > leather pants. We all opted to leave our heels back at Rovaniemi Hotel Ounasvaara Chalets (how awesome is that? Every hotel was a lofted, semi-detached chalet with a kitchenette, two bedrooms and a personal sauna.) and made our way to a gorgeous dinner with Finnish wine-pairings. We were excited to tuck in for the night and as anxious as little children knowing that the next day we were going snowmobiling.

I’m going to be honest here. I am not very good at sporty things. My cross country skiing career ended before it began. No one is giving me a medal (not even honorary mention) for my snowshoeing abilities, but I was pretty confident that once I got behind that snowmobile I would have found my forte.

How wrong I was.

Things started out simple enough, taking us to our first checkpoint: the spot where Nick and Vanessa met Santa. But, surprise, Santa wasn’t even there. I should have taken that for an omen, but I didn’t. And that was my first mistake. I know you’re probably thinking snowmobiling is really easy, but steering is actually harder than it seems, and I kept thinking I was on one of those antique cars, like the ones at Great America that stay on their tracks while you pretend to drive. That was particularly problematic when I drove my snowmobile (and unwitting passenger, Mackenzie) into a three feet of snow.

And a tree.

We couldn’t stop laughing, especially when they had to pull out the bungee cords to tow us back to the path. All’s well that ends well. The snowmobile, Mackenzie and I were all unharmed.

RIP little tree.

All that driving and laughing and tree killing can really work up a girl’s appetite, taking us to the Bear’s Den, where Nick stayed during filming. We had lunch, jumped on Nick’s bed and a little liquid courage before throwing on our swimsuits and heading to the sauna.  Remember when Nick and Vanessa sat in that steamy room (temps can go as high as 212 degrees) before plunging into an icy lake? Well I did that! And it was awesome. I swear, my pores have never looked better.

Time flew in Finland, and before I knew it, it was our final day. We started in Santa’s Village to cross the Arctic Circle and some face time with the big guy. Naturally, as a 40-year old Jewish woman, I had a lot of questions. I grilled the old man on his cookie preference (he eats the carrots; Rudolph’s eating the cookies. It was all Mrs. Claus’s idea) and how to get on the “nice” list.

You’d think that nothing could top meeting Santa, but there were even more surprises. We got up close and personal with some of Santa’s reindeer and then headed to Snowman World, which includes a hotel, restaurant and bar made entirely of ice.  To cap off the visit, we each took a turn snow tubing. Finally! Something I was good at.

The best part of the trip was the people we met along the way. In particular, a local artisan named Irene who (along with her husband) helped create the set decor for the Bachelor proposal, turning the restaurant into a Finnish fairytale. She was warm and outgoing, teaching us how to make a rose from scraps of reindeer leather, and then inviting us into her charming home for warm berry cider and tales of her elf drama.

Our final stop was a private island. The newly opened  Hotel Vartiosaari, was the perfect place to end the trip. After dinner, the seven of us, once strangers, now undeniably friends, huddled around a campfire with Finnish marshmallows, chocolate and wine, gazing at the stars, in hopes of seeing the Northern Lights.

“What’s that!” Jenn, who coordinated the trip, said pointing towards the sky? While others confirmed Jenn’s keen eye, I was like Rachel from friends, trying to see her baby on the ultrasound. Fortunately Ashley, our photographer knew just how to capture the moment. It was the perfect picture and the perfect end to the trip.

Have I convinced you yet? Finland is truly a bucket list trip – and totally worth it. Want to learn even more?  Check out the Visit Finland website for more information about the hotels, restaurants and activities I did, plus super incredible travel packages.

Huge thanks to Finnair, our hosts Visit Finland and my wonderful travel buddies Blake, Katie, Ashley, Mackenzie, Carly and Jenn. (please visit their blogs!)  All photos by Ashley

 


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