Hello my readers, it has been many months since my honeymoon to Finland and i’m ready to blog about it (Way overdue i know! haha). Why Finland you might ask? For many years, i have been dreaming of a White Christmas. My husband has yearning to visit Finland but i’m really worried that i cannot take the harsh winter.. Eventually, we have decided to head to South Africa for a more exotic honeymoon and we have paid for the deposit at the Natas Fair. However, we have to cancel it as Jane entered our lives the following month. Due to the turn of events a few months later, i have a lot of spare time during my Maternity Leave. My husband also has to clear his leave so he suggested that we head for the long overdue honeymoon in December. His first choice is Finland (obviously) and we decided to just do it!
We booked our trip very last-minute in October and being the peak season, we were really lucky to grab the very last 2 air tickets on Finnair (On both Departure and Arrival Flight)… Due to the time constraint, we engaged the help of a tour operator to arrange for land tours (Meaning, she will only help us with the reservation of our air tickets, accommodation and railway tickets). We prefer a F&E trip, we don’t like to follow rigid schedule (too much constraints & restrictions) and i dislike travelling with too many people. If i did not remember wrongly, the air tickets cost about $1.5k each and this is the only airline that offers direct flight to Finland from Singapore. Overall, the flight experience was good with friendly and attentive crew~ The 2 meals provided were delicious as well but the only complaint was the lack of leg space (SQ’s flight has bigger leg space!). hehe~
Tip #1: If possible, do self-check in the day before in case flight overbooked. You can also select your favorite seat and in our case, seats near the window!
We arrived Finland in about 12-13 hours and i was thrilled when the plane was about to land as most places were covered with snow! Thank God for providing us with the means so that we have this opportunity to experience such a magical moment.
It was about 6.30am when we arrived Helsinki and we cleared immigration swiftly before collecting our luggage. We had an internal flight to catch at 11+ hence there was so much time to kill.. After self-check in & bag drop was done for our next flight, we roamed around the airport. It was snowing while we arrived! Yay!! Since it was the winter season, there was little day light so the skies remained dark and gloomy most of the time.
We also purchased SIM card bundle from R-Kioski (Convenience store) at the arrival hall. We bought the Saunalahti Perhenetti Prepaid Bundle which costs 39,00 € which consists of a Mobile Broadband (WIFI) router and a Saunalahti Prepaid Mobile Broadband simcard (Including one month data in Finland and 6 € Balance for calls).
Tip #2: There’s individual sim card available but we reckon the bundle is more worth it as we would be relying heavily on the internet (on the go) and we would be there for 2 weeks. Moreover, we wouldn’t have to go through the hassle to top it up from time to time. Saunalahti ‘s network is stable, fast and has coverage at all the places we went so i will highly recommend it. 🙂
There’s plenty of cafes to get your food fixs and free WIFI at the airport to help us kill time… For Pandora lovers, there’s an outlet in the airport itself so that you can get your accessories at tax-free prices.. Don’t say i never share 😛
Rovaniemi is the first destination that we were heading to and it is the capital of Lapland.. Rovaniemi as it is the Official Hometown of Santa Claus and it is an urban oasis amidst the Arctic wilderness, where culture and wild activities and fairytales come together (Quote from http://www.visitrovaniemi.fi/). Will touch on what’s in Rovaniemi in my next blog post so stay tune.
We chose to take an internal flight to Rovaniemi to save time as it only takes 1 hr 15 mins to arrive there (as compared to taking an overnight train). Finnair and Norwegian Airline flies there and we took Norwegian Airline as it is a budget carrier (Hence tickets are more affordable). We booked the internal flight tickets ourselves as it was a last-minute decision (as we decided not to take overnight train). Paid about $464.22 for 2 pax and the flight experience was good as well! Comfortable leather seat and leg space is decent as well.. Their air crew also emphasized a lot on safety which we really appreciate (Unlike certain budget airline that i took in Singapore)
Check out the really adorable decoration on the baggage carousel!! Our baggage came out really fast as well and i was really excited to begin our winter land adventure!
To get to our hotel in the city, we took the Airport Bus right outside the first exit near to the baggage carousel area (Basically, you just have to walk straight).. The bus will be waiting outside whenever there’s any flight incoming and no booking is required. Bus fare starts from 7 € from the airport to the city. The bus will leave immediately after the arrival of Finnair and Norwegian Flights so you have to be quick! The bus journey to our hotel took about 45 mins and i was busy enjoying the scenery along the way. The driver will help you with your luggage after you alight and Finnish are really friendly people! 🙂
We stayed in City Hotel Rovaniemi and we chose this hotel as it is located in the main city area whereby the city shopping centre is located in the vicinity (Just across the street). Check in was done fast by helpful and attentive hotel staff! Our room + Bathroom were small but adequate for the both of us! It has a modern touch and filled with the needed amenities (Like heater, toiletries and coffee-making factilities etc). The in-room WiFi was complimentary, fast and stable so we have nothing much to complain about.. Bed and pillows were comfortable and it really helped to ‘shorten’ my jetlag sympton. Breakfast provided by the hotel was really good as well and i enjoyed it very much!
#Tip 3: You can use online travel search engine like Hotels.com / Expedia to check out different choices /comparison of flights and timing. Likewise for hotel rooms! Sometimes, it will be more affordable to book your flights or Hotels via these online portals instead of booking direct through the airline / hotels’s website. At the same time, you can enjoy more cost savings by utilizing coupons / discount codes from sites like CupoNation.
We arrived on 24 Dec so the hotel was hosting Gala Dinner (on 24th and 25th Dec) for their occupants! It was a really nice touch as almost all the shops were closed (Including cafes and Restaurants)~ Special mention to the employees as they have to work on a holiday and coping with the large amount of guest during the Christmas Period (The hotel was fully booked while we were staying there).
Here’s what we had on the first night (Clockwise Direction):
Smoked Salmon Herb Cream and Roe, Grilled Filet of Beef, Reindeer Carpaccio with dried and preserved berries, Fire Frilled White Fish and Strawberry Champagne Sorbet (Not in picture).
Almost everything beside the Reindeer Carpaccio were delicious! I took a small bite of the Reindeer Carpaccio and it has a stronger and weirder aftertaste as compared to the mutton. No price for guessing who ate it in the end (The dustbin. lol!)
After dinner, we went to explore the hotel area. All the shops were closed due to the festive season and we wanted to walk to the Arktikum (Arctic Centre and Regional Museum of Lapland) located 15 mins away from the hotel. Bad choice and we gave up halfway as the extreme cold was too much for us to bear!
Tip #4: Do bring along a mask as the cold air that you breathe in will make your nose very dry and uncomfortable (Some will even experience nose bleed). If possible, wear spectacles with anti-fog lenses or contact lenses (Bring a bottle of eye drop along). If not, your spectacle lenses will fog up and freeze (no Joke!)
Went back to the hotel for a short rest and proceeded to the lobby again as the staff told us that Santa Claus will be paying a visit. I did not expect that he will arrive on a Reindeer Sled! Omg!
After staring at the Reindeer indoors, my husband suggested to run outside and take a picture with the Reindeer. We were under-dressed and our down jackets were in the rooms (There was not enough time for us to go up and grab it).
We were freezinggggg after spending less than 3 mins outside (Temperature was -19 degrees) but it was worth it!
Alright! I will end a picture with the (Not so happy looking) Santa Claus and that’s all for Day 1! We only had a few hours to spare as we reached the hotel at about 3 pm and many attractions were closed~ Went to bed early to prepare for Day 2 as we had to wake up early~
Stay Tune to my next update and Happy Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to all my muslim friends and readers. Have a great weekend everyone!