Driving up to the Lapland Lodge was totally surreal. Dad had never seen so much snow in his entire life. The serenity of it all was beyond imaginable. Everything was still. Not even slight wind could disturb the complete peace they felt. The Lodge, situated quite literally in the middle of the forest, is a short walk from Lake Silmäsjärvi. And with all that the Lodge has to offer, they’d certainly be busy for the next two weeks.

Not wanting to rush into things too quickly, they decided that their first full day would consist of getting situated and  chilling out, after their long journey up north and away from their busy NYC lives. And of course, trying to get over the jet lag! Breakfast was catered to them by Káfet Cafe & Bakery, and they were not disappointed. The freshly baked breads, boiled eggs, sliced fish and reindeer, coffee, fresh veggies, and sweet pastries were included in the meal. Definitely a great way to start off their culinary adventure in Finland. A favorite for everyone was the freshly baked rye bread, a staple of course in the Finnish household. 

After breakfast, it was time to explore the area. The kids all put on their layers and layers of clothing, bracing themselves for the cold November weather of Northern Finland. Mom and dad wanted to sit for a while by the fireplace, just enjoying being together. Something they hadn’t done in a long, long time. Their lives at home were hectic, both overworked and exhausted. They deserved some peace and relaxation, especially before they wanted to head out for the more active adventures planned.

Alex, Annie, and Mark decided they’d go check out Lake SIlmäsjärvi, a few hundred meters from the Lodge. A little bit of sloshing around through the boggy area in the warmer months to get there isn’t troublesome, but once winter comes, the snow is a game changer! Proper snow boots, and of course, all essential winter weather gear is necessary when heading out for the day. Mom reminded them as they were walking out the door, to “Please, please be careful near the ice!” It’s a usual thing for lakes to freeze over here, and Lake Silmäsjärvi is no exception. They all nodded, in their heads thinking, “we know, we know, mom!”

Their short trek to the lake was beautiful. Peaceful. Still. It was hard to describe in words, really. Annie noticed how the snow was sparkling in the sun, how the pine trees were draped in thick, white fluff, everything covered in massive blankets of snow. It was incredible, and completely different from their previous treks through Bolivia, Vietnam, and the other warm destinations they’d traveled to.

After a bit of trudging through the snow, the trees opened up to the lake and they were pleasantly surprised. It was smaller than they expected- you could basically see the entirety of the lake. Now, being the adventurous kids they were, they decided to walk around the whole thing, playing and rolling around in the snow as they went along. The three of them were like little kids again, throwing snowballs at each other, fooling around, making snow angels. They realized how magical this place was, and how much they missed being so connected to nature. Lapland is truly a wonderful place to tap into this connection.

Since it was still pretty early in the season, they knew it wasn’t the best idea to walk so far out onto the ice, so they stayed pretty close to the edge of the forest, just enjoying being outside. On their way back to the Lodge, they realized how incredibly hungry they were. Plus, it was only about 2PM and it was ALREADY getting dark. “I guess we were told about this, but I really didn’t believe it until now,” said Alex. All of them did notice, however, how incredibly bright everything was because of the snow, despite the early sunsets. Definitely a benefit of being so far north.

Mom and dad were still sitting by the fire when they returned , both of them snuggling under a huge blanket. A much needed day on the couch, especially after all their travels. Everyone was of course a bit jet lagged, but they knew it was wise to stay up a bit later so they’d wake up at a reasonable time the next morning. They had their late lunch catered to them again by Kafet, this time getting the soup of the day. This included a delicious pea soup, homemade bread, salad, coffee, and a baked sweet bun. Full and ready for bed, they all snuggled up on the couch after eating, and just enjoyed each other’s company for the rest of the day.

Their evening sauna was conveniently heated for them by the Lodge staff, and they were able to enjoy the warmth right before going to bed. Mark had read about the insanity of hopping back and forth between snow and sauna, and somehow was able to persuade the whole family to try it out. They alternated between the two for a bit, playing around in the snow and then running back into the sauna to warm up. After tiring themselves out, they showered and got ready for bed, all sleeping like babies in the warmth of the Lodge.

The next few days were spent acclimating to the freezing temperatures, and just enjoying the glistening piles of snow all around and comfort and solitude of being in nature. They spent hours trekking through the forest, experiencing more snow in the first week there, than they’d experienced in their entire lives. This was also true for the sauna. They used the traditional sauna every night, and tried the smoke sauna a few times that first week. Mom, dad, Alex, Annie, and even Mark really felt a sense of purification beginning on day one- releasing, letting go of stresses, worries, and the total enjoyment of just being present. Lapland can do that to you, apparently.

Everyone was in consensus that their first week would be one of a bit more relaxation and rest, and the second week would be filled with more adventurous activities that the Lodge offers. For now, they were content with sauna, snow, sitting by the fireplace, and just sharing this time and space together.