Take a VR Trip to The Arctic: Fly Under the Borealis and Meet Santa in Lapland!

Highly restricted travel possibilities this holiday season, understandably, can make planning fun holiday experiences difficult. Aaaannnd …. what do we need so much this year? FUN HOLIDAY EXPERIENCES! This is why, when I realised that Finnair is offering this very cool experience, I had to get more information and share this with you. So I contacted Finnair and they were so friendly to share all the information I needed on this initiative.

Lapland is a highly popular winter destination for travellers from around the globe. Rovaniemi is a city within Finnish Lapland at the arctic circle. This area is sought after as a tourism destination for many reasons: incredible arctic nature, dog sledding, reindeer, undisturbed and amazing night skies, landscape, native culture and Santa! Ask any Finn where Joulupukki (Santa) lives and the answer will always be Korvatunturi (the fell where Santa’s workshop is located).

This year, Finnair had the brilliant idea to offer virtual reality flights to Lapland to meet Santa so that people everywhere can enjoy some holiday fun. The VR experience offers a 360 degree view in which the traveller can be fully immersed in the experience. The trip includes the flight, a comfortable seat in Nordic Business Class, refreshments served by the friendly cabin crew and amazing views of the starry night sky while flying under the borealis. Once the flight lands in Rovaniemi, travellers cross into the arctic circle and have the opportunity to meet Santa at his cabin!

Flying under the Borealis

The flight takes some time to fly under the aurora borealis on it’s way to Lapland. The arctic borealis viewing is a popular pastime amongst star gazers and adventurers alike, as arctic skies are some of the most amazing, star-filled and even colourful night skies to enjoy.

Once disembarking in Rovaniemi, enjoy the crisp arctic air and warm holiday feelings when crossing the arctic circle to visit Santa at his cabin!

Santa’s Village in Rovaniemi

Travellers from all over the world flock to see Santa and now we are able to share in this experience, uninterrupted and without large crowds, for a reasonable price while donating to charity. Win-win-win!

The virtual reality flights are scheduled twice daily, starting on Christmas Day 25/12 and going through New Years Eve 30/12 during two times of the day: 12.00 EET and 19.00 EET. Flights can be taken via laptop, smartphone and VR headsets with web browsers that allow video play. As I understand it, the tours are in the English language.

The flights last approximately 30 minutes and cost 10 euros (or 12.30 usd). The proceeds from these VR tours are donated to UNICEF to help slow the spread of Covid-19 and minimise the impact children that have been adversely affected by the pandemic, globally. Tickets for the VR tours can be purchased by visiting the Finnair shop page by clicking here.

This experience is something that can potentially bring joy to people and families everywhere and I would absolutely recommend trying it.

Enjoy the flight!

-Mliae

Winter facial at Mimando

I had another opportunity to visit one of my favourite spa’s for another great facial! I am justifying these trips because winter is absolutely cruel to my skin, I’m panicking about the beginning signs of aging, and…at Mimando, the price of these very effecting facials is more than reasonable. Trust me, I have done A LOT of shopping around and most places who offer this level of proficiency charge like they are giving you pure gold face masks. Thankfully, not here. In addition, my skin care professional is goal-oriented, not task oriented. So she doesn’t stop until she has made my skin look great! I don’t know what it is…maybe the outstanding customer service, or the glowing after effects of my skin every time I leave…but I am absolutely addicted to skincare treatments at Mimando.

OK, so here’s how this went down:

I wear a lot of makeup on a daily basis, so she did a very thorough cleaning to start. Then, because my skin seems to react best to this; she did an delicate ultrasound scrub & peel treatment. This was followed by a moisturizing facial mask for 20-25 minutes (and a little nap) polished off with a super moisturizer. And voila´! I look like this 🙂

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This photo is my ‘after’ depicting the absolute clearness of my skin proceeding my facial. It is unedited (ok, I cropped it), un brightened and unfiltered so that you can see exactly how squeaky clean my skin is.

Mimando, I’ll be back!

Thanks for reading!

-Mliae

Lemon juice and Glycerine hand gel

This is my weekly find feature, for the weekly find challenge by a dark world inside. This is also a product review for this product, which I highly recommend…especially for winter hands!

After a month of complaining that my usual hand creams weren’t working -during a particularly cold and cruel winter, this little beauty found it’s way into my Christmas stocking. I don’t know if it was the soap I was using, or the extreme temps outdoors…but my hands have dried out so badly that they were cracking and even bleeding in some places. Ouch! Ouch! OOOOOUUUUCH!

This product, which originates in Finland, is glycerine based – not water based and has made a drastic difference in the condition of my hands. Thank you! For next winter, I will make sure to have a stock of this on hand…literally! Besides, whats the point of having a fantastic manicure when your hands look like you’re 100 years old?

What are your fave hand products for the cold?

Thanks for reading!

-mliae

Visiting Finland; Cultural insights and things to see.

Ah, Finland…what a wonder this country is. Located in the Arctic North and bordering Russia, this country with a population of approximately 5,5 million has many things that work in its favour as far as a travel and life destination. I have spent much time here there and everywhere in Finland, so feel confident in sharing my experiences.

Finland prides itself on having all four seasons. This true, without a doubt.

Spring

Spring is a time of celebration for many Finns. Once the snow begins to melt, the sun is shining and temps are warming, smiles on peoples’ faces become more prominent. When the flowers begin to bloom it is truly an incredible experience. And you will not see a happier woman than when the winter boots are thrown into the closet and her heels come front and centre. The May Day celebration, known as Vappu is a huge celebration in Finland. It is generally celebrated with outdoor parties, parades, and late nights. If you are there during ‘Vappu’, do not be surprised if you see a million people all wearing the same hat. These are the hats of achievement, of scholarly success and graduation. It’s a tradition.

Summer

Summer in Finland is amazing. The sun rarely sets for more than an hour or so, the days are hot, everything is growing and Finns are out en masse. Nature is prominent in Finland and the Finns love it. If you speak to a Finn about their plans during the summer, 90% of the time you will hear it said that they are visiting a cottage. With 188,000 lakes in the country, who can blame them? Most Finns have either their own or a family summer cottage where most of the free time is spent during the season. Summer cottages are not chateau’s. They are cottages on or near a lake, always containing a sauna, access to the beach, the usual amenities and everyone loves to go there. Mid-summer festival or ‘Juhannus’ is almost always celebrated at the summer cottage. Huge bonfires are lit on the lake and the party begins!

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Autumn

Autumn in finland is beautiful. The foliage is changing into gorgeous, almost surreal colors, people are out and about enjoying the ever shortening days and one can almost watch the transitions of the seasons happening in the populace mindset before your very eyes. ‘Pyhäinpäivä’, or All Saints Day is celebrated on or the day following the 31st of October. This is usually celebrated by placing burning candles at the grave sites of loved ones. Halloween is also celebrated in Finland, but mostly in the larger cities and on a much smaller scale than in North America or Ireland. Also popular in late November is ‘Pikku Joulu’ or little Christmas. These parties are prominent around the country. For the Americans, these parties are much like Thanksgiving. But because Christmas is usually celebrated with immediate family only, this is when the work parties and get togethers happen before the Christmas holiday.

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Winter

The winters are long and with low sub zero temperatures, one would think that people would be hiding in their homes for the duration. This is untrue. The Finns have an uncanny knack to make the most out of any weather conditions (unless perhaps it is just too hot). During the winter, Finns are quite active in sports. Any school you happen to pass by with have an outdoor skating area where you can ice skate, or practice your ice hockey skills. (Be warned, the Finnish children who play like pro’s will giggle at your utter incompetence by comparison) Skiing and Snow boarding or even snow tubing are commonplace sports, as well as long distance skiing which is usually done on one of the many nature trails once it has iced over. Ice fishing is also common but must only be done in certain temperatures. House and shop fronts are adorned with what I like to call ice art (flowers or other objects frozen into an ice mould and then placed around burning candles), candles are burning and trees are lit. The winter solstice is a good day, falling on the 21st of December this year, as the daylight will begin to show itself a few minutes more each day even though the temperature will continue to drop for some time further. Christmas is the holiday of the season. Santa Klaus or ‘Joulupukki’ is said to live in Lapland, in the far North of Finland and it is a common trip to make to rent a cabin and go to Lapland to see Santa and the reindeer.

As Finnish culture goes, there are a few things that any visitor should keep in mind when visiting. Finns are used to their space. A Finns personal space is much larger than say in Asia or Italy. This is due to the immense land area per populace in the country. Hugging is not done unless you are a close friend or family member, or after a long night at the pub. Finns are quiet. This is not an attempt to be rude, it is merely a culture of few words. The good thing is, when a Finn is speaking to you, you know that what they are saying is important and genuine. Finland has unique design tastes, one of the most famous and popular being Marimekko and you will see it everywhere.

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Finns love coffee. Finland is said to be one of, if not the top in coffee consumption worldwide. Finns are not ignorant. Finland has the top educational system in the world…and it shows. In business, Finland is at a strategic geographic disadvantage. This has been overcoming by the many forms of R&D, higher education specialties, and social policies in place in order to encourage productivity. It works. Finland has a very high percentage of trade and tourism with Russia, Sweden and the Baltics.

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If a Finn invites you for coffee, or to their summer cottage, or even in health and wellness places, ALWAYS remove your shoes at the door. Walking into a Finns home with your shoes on is a social faux-pas that will in all cases annoy your host(s).

Sauna

Going to the sauna is a deeply embedded tradition. Most Finnish homes have their own sauna’s, as do summer cottages, gyms, swimming halls and many restaurants and community buildings. If a flat does not contain its own, you can bet the building has one in the basement. The sauna is considered a clean place, and there are rules. For instance, Finns attend the sauna in social settings, en masse and nude. Do not stare and never ever comment on anyones’ body! Prepare to be looked at like you have 8 heads if you arrive cheerily in a bikini. You should at the very least rinse in the shower before going in, and usually have a paper or towel on which to sit. In some cases, your host(s) will have a cold alcoholic beverage awaiting your arrival. Although I have also been told that traditionally this is seen as a no-no and that you should only consume your drink once out of the sauna. I guess it is solely determined by the company you are in. Personally, a sauna beer suits me just fine. Birch whips: Some Finns are fans, many tourists are terrified. This is something that is done only on occasion (but as many tourists know, sometimes you ARE the occasion). Birch whips are made from tying a certain kind of small birch branches with the leaves in tact, together and drying. Before use in the sauna, it is soaked in the water bucket (this water is thrown on the hot rocks to make steam and it smells so good!) and then used to kind of, well, whip yourself with. Your legs, arms, shoulders and back. The birch whips can also be used a form of soap. Using the birch to scrub your skin by bundling the leafy part in your hand and scrubbing your skin is said to have cleansing and exfoliating properties. Trust me, it’s not as horrifying as it sounds. There is something in the birch which opens your pores and once you have finished the sauna and shower, your skin will be positively glowing. Not to mention the fact that your host(s) will be proud of you for not running away screaming (which they expected that you would do). Even in the winter, if you are by a lake, sauna is followed by a dip in the lake albeit quickly (Bbbbrrrr!) and a return to the heat.

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There are countless things to see and do in Finland. Many have already been mentioned. If you are strictly a city person, Helsinki is the place for you. Shopping, sightseeing, upscale cafe’s, spa’s and the harbour to name a few. Parks and nature trails abound in Finland, and history is endless. Finnish history goes back a very long time, it is still fresh in the collective memory.

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Historical towns like Porvoo with churches, old town and many opportunities to shop hand made crafts and products.

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industrial cities such as Tampere have sightseeing opportunities everywhere such as Aleksanderin kirrko in Aleksanterinpuisto.

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If castles are your thing, visit Hämeenlinna or Savonlinna. In Savo, there is an annual opera festival held during the summer months. But if you plan to attend the opera, make sure to purchase tickets far in advance.

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In Finland there are also many viewing towers with which to climb and get an amazing ariel view of the area. If you’re in good shape, go for it! And while you’re at it, check out one of the local amusement parks 🙂

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoy sharing it. I would love to hear your insights and experiences, please share! I will be posting more blogs on more travels, including Finland.

Thank you for reading!

-mliae