Finland Travelogue – (Part 7): Helsinki City and Christmas Market

Much has been said about escaping to the capital of Finland, Helsinki to be soaked in the atmosphere of Christmas. Just before we headed back home, we had the opportunity to explore Helsinki city and the Christmas market.

Come winter season, there are only few hours of daylight and it is not surprising to see most of the pictures taken were dark.

We took the train at the Rautatieasema Railway station from the airport.

The ride to the city took about 30 mins. After being acquainted with snow and forested surroundings, it was a refreshing feeling to be back to urban jungle again.

Helsinki is the capital of Finland. There are lots of attractions to explore and experience for tourists which you can find here. Since we had a few hours before catching the flight, we thought the best option was to head straight to the popular Christmas market and walked in the city, immersing ourselves in the nordic atmosphere.

With a single ticket you can hop aboard trams, busses, the metro and even the ferry to Suomenlinna. Single tickets can be purchased from ticket machines, R-kiosks and other HSL sales points or by using HSL mobile application. Tickets can only be bought from the driver on buses and trams.

Familiar food brands.

We were figuring out how to get to the Christmas market. With the kind help of the locals, we managed to reach there, finally!

Helsinki Christmas Market is the oldest and largest event of its kind in Helsinki. Taking place in the centre of Helsinki in the Senate Square the Christmas Market attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. One of the main draws of was the hugely popular and old-fashioned merry-go-round offering free rides to children and others who are young at heart.

So many Christmas stalls here. There are over a hundred vendors selling traditional handicraft, the latest design and utility products, as well as produce from primary producers and farms.

Trying out some delicious traditional Finnish Karelian pasties to bring into our flight back home.

Helsinki Christmas Market is open from early December until Christmas Eve week. Events such as Finnish Independence Day (6 December) and many other free smaller events during the run-up to Christmas, regulate the everyday life of the market.

Our dinner 🙂

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Finland Travelogue – (Part 4): Ice Fishing with Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park in Lapland

Fishing takes place all year round, even in winter. Ice fishing is actually a lot of fun, because we can move freely on the surface of rivers and lakes when they are frozen.

After the exhilarating reindeer and husky sleigh rides, our guide brought us to experience ice fishing.

We were pretty relaxed and did not hold much hope in catching any fish. Just for the experience of walking in a frozen lake and trying our hands in ice fishing for the first time.

The lake was covered with really thick snow. Our boots almost sank into the snow while walking which gave us discomfort of having ‘ice’ inside our boots and wetting the socks.

But we had our fun playing with the snow, which was pure white and soft!

To fish successfully, our guide used an ice drill with sharp blades to make a hole in the ice.

Our guide was experienced. Though it looked difficult to us, he made the drilling process looked so simple.

It just less than 3 minutes, water splashed out of the hole!

Attaching the bait on our mini-rod, we tried our hand at ice fishing for the first time. We did not bare too much hope as timing is important to increase your chances to catch fishes. It was nearing to evening time. The best timing for fishing is usually early in the morning when the fishes are active, alert and hungry.

The water surface started to freeze after a while.

We had no idea why it was so much colder over here at the frozen lake. Big and Small M dropped the fishing rod and took refuge at our van. The last thing we wanted was for them to experience any frostbite 😦

A point to note when visiting Lapland during the winter, do not try to save and buy cheap winter clothings. Visitors are often up against the harshest weather conditions in the Arctic Circle. So, do your research and get quality winter clothings at reasonable prices.

We completed the ice fishing and our guide brought us to the log cottage to warm ourselves up and also…

Smoked some delicious hotdogs for us!

Up next, we will be experiencing more Christmas magic at the SantaPark – Santa’s own Home Cavern that is located just underneath the Arctic Circle. The jolly and cheerful elves guide you through a fun day with our whole family!

Read our adventures in Stockholm and Iceland before hitting Finland!

Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park Oy is located in Santa Claus Village at the Arctic Circle in Finland.

Address:
Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park
Santa Claus Village
Joulumaantie 5
96930 Arctic Circle
Finland

Email:
Bookings and safari information
: info@snowmobilepark.com

Instagram: Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park
Facebook page: Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park
TripAdvisor: Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park

Interested to visit Finland? Click here to follow Katong Kids Inc Facebook Page to stay tune on the next travel post.
All photos, information and opinions, unless otherwise stated, in this post belong to Katong Kids Inc. Reproducing or copying them for use on third party sites without our written permission are strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Finland Travelogue – (Part 3): Reindeer and Husky Sleigh Ride in Lapland

Our next itinerary is going to enjoy the company of arctic animals where we will visit local reindeer farms and husky kennels and take on a fascinating ride on a sleigh.

We had no idea where we were after snowmobiling for one hour. But one thing we knew, we were really deep into the forest.

The coldness was unbearable and we were really glad to take a rest inside the log cottage.

Our guide prepared an open fire for us to warm up, and our group got to enjoy warm refreshments and pastries before meeting the reindeer and husky dogs. Our guide also shared about Lapland with us, describing what we should know about arctic animals and their behaviour.

Fire, the precious commodity during winter season.

Reindeer Farm

Okay, we have read about reindeer in storybooks and seen them on TVs. Our impression of reindeer is that they are very much a part of Santa Claus’ life, transporting him from one place to another.

Reindeer don’t fly, but they do sometimes have red noses. These animals are part of the deer family, which includes deer, elk, moose and wapiti. Like others in their family, reindeers have long legs, hooves and antlers. An interesting fact to know is that male reindeer lose their antlers in November, but females keep theirs much longer. This means that Santa Claus’ reindeer must have all been female, since they are depicted as having horns on December 24.

Reindeer are built for the cold. Their noses warm up air before it gets to their lungs and their entire bodies, including their hooves, are covered with fur. These animals can run very fast and some of them up to 80km/h!

Let us pose for a picture before the ride.

How far was the reindeer sleigh ride? Just a mere 500m. Our reindeer was pretty lazy as he stopped halfway and sauntered back to the starting point. However the best part was getting to ‘drive’ the reindeer by ourselves!

The reindeer ride was not impressive. However, the memorable part was getting up close and personal to meet the reindeer, finally.

Husky Safari

We visited the husky safari which was one of our anticipated itinerary. We loved dogs! The energy and joy of the husky dogs, who are born to run, is difficult to describe and petting the animals is also possible.

At the husky safari, we learnt about how the huskies were trained from a young age and the role each of them played in pulling the sleigh.

As you can see, husky bears a close resemblance to the wolf but they are pretty friendly and playful.

After touring the husky farm, we were led to the husky sleigh ride. The huskies were raring to go and greeted us with enthusiatic chorus of barking when we approached them.

The 500m husky ride was delightful as they leapt up and down the air in extreme excitement, pulling us across the snow. While some may see this as animal slavery, we tend to differ. The huskies really looked happy and excited in carrying out their duties.

Posing for a family photo before we bid these friendly animals goodbye!

Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park Oy is located in Santa Claus Village at the Arctic Circle in Finland.

Address:
Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park
Santa Claus Village
Joulumaantie 5
96930 Arctic Circle
Finland

Email:
Bookings and safari information
: info@snowmobilepark.com

Instagram: Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park
Facebook page: Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park
TripAdvisor: Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park

Interested to visit Finland? Click here to follow Katong Kids Inc Facebook Page to stay tune on the next travel post.
All photos, information and opinions, unless otherwise stated, in this post belong to Katong Kids Inc. Reproducing or copying them for use on third party sites without our written permission are strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

Finland Travelogue – (Part 2): Airbnb Stay and Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park in Lapland

Travel like a tourist and live like a local. They need not be mutually exclusive and Airbnb has made it possible for us to enjoy a meaningful holiday with authentic, local experiences.

We were really blessed to meet a wonderful host who readily fetched us from Santa Claus Village to his Airbnb abode at no extra cost.

Our host stayed near to Rovaniemi city. Along the way, he gave us a mini-tour of the city and stopped by a supermarket for us to do some grocery shopping.

Our Airbnb Stay

Here we are, at our Airbnb and it was freezing cold. An interesting sight was the entrance to the house; in fact, there were 2 doors to access. We were curious why it was so but guess probably could be due to the freezing weather that it needed 2 doors to insulate the house from coldness.

Some might thought the lighting looked spooky but we felt it was a nice touch.

It was snowing all day and the cars were covered with snow!

The size of the house was typical of a 3 room HDB flat and more than sufficient for us.

The living room with sofa bed.

Our host prepared coffee powder and cookies for us.

Mini-kitchen.

The bedroom with connecting bathroom.

We were blessed to have a wonderful host. Not forgetting to pen down our appreciation for his great hosting!

 Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park

Pure snow white provides for many opportunities to have fun. The Arctic Circle has no lack of snow activities to engage in. For the very first time, we got the opportunity to explore snowmobile ride in the snowy forest.

We booked the day activity program from the Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park.

The group sizes are small and the speed and the length of the safari depend on each group. This is why this safari suits for families as well as for those who are looking for a real adrenaline boost.

Our guide first gave us a brief introduction to snowmobiling after which he lead us to the wilderness.

Getting ready to move out…

And off we go! The kids really enjoyed the ride which lasted about 15 mins.

The Lapland is an amazing place to take on a fascinating ride through the winter forest.

That was not the end. Come second part, we joined a bigger group and snowmobiled for about an hour into the wilderness. This excursion is available for everybody, but a driving license is required to ride a snowmobile for longer distances.

This time round, Big and Small M had to sit under the blankets on a sledge behind the snowmobile.

For a moment, we almost couldn’t recognise who she is! That was how freezing cold the Lapland is. Small M’s hair froze and became spider web. Snowmobiling in the wilderness and playing with the snow were already an experience in itself, but this safari would be taking us to meet reindeer and husky dogs in our next blog. Stay tune for more 🙂

Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park Oy is located in Santa Claus Village at the Arctic Circle in Finland.

Address:
Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park
Santa Claus Village
Joulumaantie 5
96930 Arctic Circle
Finland

Email:
Bookings and safari information
: info@snowmobilepark.com

Interested to visit Finland? Click here to follow Katong Kids Inc Facebook Page to stay tune on the next travel post.
All photos, information and opinions, unless otherwise stated, in this post belong to Katong Kids Inc. Reproducing or copying them for use on third party sites without our written permission are strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.