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Have you ever heard about Salla? To be specific Salla in the middle of nowhere? No?!
Well, today is my birthday and I want to use this opportunity to tell you about one of the best birthday celebrations I ever had. And as it happens it took place in this magical place in the middle of nowhere.
When I was younger I really liked having fancy parties in big cities like London, Prague or Warsaw. Those days (getting older) I much prefer to spend my birthday trekking in the two-meter snow, skiing or exploring lakes and high mountains.
You would think it is not that difficult to do as my birthday are clearly in the middle of winter; and yes, I tend to agree, but I have been travelling in rather warmer climate for past two years before my trip to Finland and I really missed winter, cold and big scarfs!
But let’s start from the beginning, I went to Finland to attend NBE bloggers program on Matka Nordic Travel Fair. I was really excited to be invited as I have never been to Finland before. I quickly booked the flights and decided that after the conference job is done I’m gonna stay for an extra month to tour around this arctic country.
On one of the conference breakfast in a very funny situation that included taking over the table reserved for this mysterious Salla in the middle of nowhere, me and couple of other bloggers met Heli – Girl responsible for representing Salla on the travel fair we were attending.
I must admit I was intrigued because I always call a place where my parents live “in the middle of nowhere” so I was wondering who is daring to still my trademark ha ha ha I have decided I have to check out this place hidden in the woods 20km from the Russian border.
I had already some plans to go North to hunt for some Northern Lights and I have decided that I will visit Salla on the week of my birthday! It was the best decision of my life! Seriously!
Birthday Celebration – Salla in the middle of nowhere!
I have arrived in Salla in the middle of nowhere quite late and the only things I was dreaming about was a warm bed, some relaxing time and hot tea. I got all that and more. I have been staying in this super cool PAN Village, a little colony of traditional Finnish log houses in the woods just next to Salla Reindeerpark.
The place was just great and it had its own sauna, I was in Finnish Heaven. The sauna was a solution to my tiredness, hurting back and a perfect way to relax after a long journey. But I had to be patient as there was Lappish Evening in the Starry Sky Hut with amazing food to attend first. It was a really good start for my birthday celebration!
The morning of my birthday started with dog sledging which I love. Husky sledging has everything I adore: speed, excitement, animals and being outdoors. It was like my 4th ride in the month so I felt quite sure and was doing very well with balancing and managing the dogs. Ok, to be honest, I was doing quite well from the very beginning(modest me), winter sports are my kind of sports.
Dogs were impatient to run, I was eager to stand on the sledge and to feel the wind in my hair. In my team I had this beautiful leading dog called Ash, he was a real machine and he made my ride so much more fun, he was running like crazy – a great leader for a sledge.
As I have mentioned I tried sledging before but the one I attended in Salla was very special, as I have got an official husky driving licence! For real! I’m certified to drive a husky sledge in the wilderness. I do not have a car driving licence but in Lapland, I’m set! That is what I call a set of unusual abilities of long-term international travellers :)
Arctic Circle Safari
After a great lunch and some hot tea in the Reindeerpark there was time for another kind of safari. Snowmobile safari. Hell yeah!
I was waiting for it my whole stay in Finland, but there was a little, tiny problem on my side – lack of driving licence, I mean car one of course. Unfortunately, it is required to ride a snowmobile.
I was a little disappointed that I will be a back-sitter but never the less super excited to do it. Heli was a driver in my team and off we went to Ruuhitunturi-fell Sallatunturin Tuvat.
The landscape looked like a Moon or some far away from the icy planet, everything was covered with a thick layer of snow, the sun was dimmed and about to set so it all looked extraterrestrial.
I don’t know was it my birthday or the fact that I’m the Luckiest Girl in the World but on the way back I got to ride it myself, oh Boy it was fun! I’m actually considering getting my licence for purely for a reason to be able to ride a snowmobile again!
Can you imagine that it didn’t end for the day?
Reindeer safari – Northern Lights Hunt
In the evening when all went pitch black we (Raphael from Journey of Wonders and I) went for a reindeer safari to hunt some Northern Lights.
Here is everything you need to know about watching Northern Lights in Finland.
Unfortunately we didn’t get to see them this time, but nevertheless, we had some great fun and laugh sitting around the fire with reindeer herders in the middle of the woods eating sausages, drinking some ‘warm-up’ drinks and taking pictures with cute white reindeer called Blixem. Wink, wink :)
The first thing the next day we were taken for a reindeer racing track where we were about to try our lack in this unique sport. Believe me, there is even Championship in it.
You – a racer stand on the skis behind the reindeer (specially trained ones of course) and use two strings to control its ‘gas’ and ‘break’.
The rules are quite simple, who will reach the finish line of 201m long loop wins! Easy peasy, no?! As it came up YES for some (Marysia – ski lover) and NO for others (Raphael – taco lover).
We got brief instructions, the right outfit, skis, goggles and off we go to a race. At least those of us who managed to leave the start line ha ha ha
I loved it, I love skiing and this was just one adrenaline level up, with a super fast reindeer in front of me, pulling me hard at great speed. ‘Yalla, Yalla, Yalla’ I was shouting and moving the “gas” string. For some strange reason, I had a strong belief that my reindeer could understand Arabic very well ha ha ha
At the finish line my reindeer as tired as hell with a tongue out. As for Raphael of well, his reindeer reached a finish line very relaxed after a slow gracious walk without Raphael behind him. I’m sure the reindeer was the one thinking ‘Easy peasy” :)
Sauna in the wilderness
In the late afternoon, we went to the real wooden sauna in the middle of nowhere but really like in the middle of nowhere. We were taken there with snowmobiles and sledges. The sauna was located in Tuohenlusikka wilderness camp – 2 little wooden cabins in the snowy forest.
I can’t tell you how much I love Finnish sauna, I got totally addicted to it. But the one in Tuohenlusikka was the most difficult one, as we had to roll in the snow in between the sessions. I myself find it much easier to have a 10-second dip in a lake or bania.
You have to believe my words, as pictures of me in the bikini will stay in top secrets corners of my computer :)
Ski & Spa
The third day of my birthday celebration was designed for me. Just the way I like it. No matter if I’m in Tignes, Hemsedal or Salla.
In the morning Raphael decided that skiing isn’t his cup of tea. I tried to make him come but I wasn’t very convincing as deep down I knew he was right on this one. ‘He better go and become some mystical Lord of Four Winds’ I told to myself.
When I arrived at the slopes I have been greeted by Vladimir – the ski instructor who as intended to keep an eye on Raphael. As Raphael was busy trying to connect with Mother Nature and voices in his head I decided to go white crazy on fresh snow.
Actually, it came out pretty well as Vladimir told me a lot of interesting stuff about the region, about two cultures Finnish and Russian mixing together etc etc
As well I learned that Lapland is a perfect place for skiing with the whole family.
After that, there was a well-deserved spa time in Holiday Club Salla in Revontuli Hotel. There is nothing better than relaxing and heating up my mussels and bones after a hard day of skiing. Oh, and a nice dinner and glass of wine come as a cherry on the cake.
And this is how my birthday celebration came to the end. I was quite sad to leave Salla in the middle of nowhere. Not planned, very spontaneous and yet next to 7 Fells the best place I visited in Finland, even though the weather was not good enough to try Russian Lada’s abilities on a frozen lake!
Salla in the middle of nowhere is one of the very few places I would return to, generally, Finland charmed me up and I will be more than happy to visit this country again and Salla will always be on my radar.
Disclaimer: This article was brought to you in collaboration with Visit Salla. Having said that, all thoughts, opinions and observations are my own. I’m way too sassy to be told what to write.