A month had gone by, and the tickets were purchased. The family would be traveling from JFK to Kittilӓ on November 24th, with a short layover in Helsinki. It was August, and the kids were all getting ready to go back to school. Alex was about to leave for his first semester of college. His next few months would be a very exciting time, but he was really looking forward to their trip. They were getting pretty anxious to depart, but knew they still had a few months to go. Work and school would keep them busy.

Soon it came time to choose their accommodation. “Do we stay at the resort? In a condo? In an AirBnB?” mom questioned. Mark, the youngest, came across Lapland Lodge Silmäjärvi, an authentic Finnish cottage a little ways away from the center of Levi. He thought this might be an option, especially because of the fact that it has not one, but TWO saunas. AND a hot tub. He suggested it to his parents, showed them a few pictures, and they read some more information about it. Once mom and dad saw this picture, though, they had a hard time saying no. It’s not hard to see why.

Apparently, the Lapland Lodge is in a more remote part of the area, near a lake called Silmäsjärvi. Along with lodging, the company offers various excursions and authentic Lapland experiences to keep them occupied during their stay. AND they could get traditional Finnish foods catered to their doorstep! It seemed like the ultimate vacation accommodation. Mom and dad discussed a bit, and decided that they would split their time between the Lapland Lodge for the first half of their stay, and then rent a condo for the second half. This seemed reasonable, because they’d be able to experience more of what the Levi center has to offer as well. After doing some internet browsing, they learned that the Lapland Lodge is connected to a Cafe & Bakery by the name of Káfet in the Levi center, so they decided they would rent a condo in the same row of apartment structures. Convenient, to say the least. Everything seemed to be coming together. Plus, they’d be able to stop by at Kafet for some authentic Finnish soups, pies, and pastries that they’d heard and read so many good things about. Just look at these yummy treats!

After getting their flights and accommodation in order, all five family members had to take inventory of their winter gear. What activities were they going to be participating in? Since they were a family who primarily traveled to tropical places and did minimal winter weather activities, you could imagine what their wardrobes looked like. And although they live in NYC and the winters can get very cold, they didn’t own snow pants or facemasks or anything like that. And the athletic apparel company mom ran was mostly for running, cycling, and yoga, and not so much cold weather hiking or trekking related. It seemed they had to do some shopping… It was the end of September and still quite hot in New York, so they went to their local outdoors store and found everything they needed on sale. Some long johns, face masks, snow pants, sturdy gloves, and the like. The Lapland Lodge website has some great info on what to expect during your stay. This article was especially helpful in figuring out the kinds of things they need to pack for the trip. It heavily stressed layers, layers, layers. Sounded easy enough. They would be all set for their skiing, snowboarding, sledding, snowmobiling, sleigh rides, swimming, and saunaing. Hmm. What was all this about winter activities and the letter S? Who knows, maybe they’d find out once they got to Finland, or as the Finns call it, Suomi.