Have you ever come across a picture of a destination where instantaneously you can envision yourself in? Whether its hiking on a mountain , underneath a waterfall, sinking your toes into the sand attached to the bluest ocean, surrounded by snowflakes or an open field of vast greenery , there are places that exude a certain amount of magic which lures your imagination into making it your reality. Before becoming a flight attendant , I've always had the interest in travel and experiencing the world but this career has allowed me to witness just how much world there's really out there to see. I must admit , especially being from Miami, there were times where I unknowingly boxed myself into a travel limit of the surrounding Caribbean islands like Haiti, Bahamas , Jamaica , Puerto Rico , etc. While being on the beach is relaxing and exhibits an obvious appeal , I began to expand my horizons to other countries that to some would not be on their bucket list but carried enough magic visually to be added to mine.
Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort entered my wanderlust radar when searching for great places to view the Northern Lights. The Northern Lights , also known as aurora borealis , aurora australis , southern or polar lights are "collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth's atmosphere; displaying patches or scattered clouds of light to streamers, arcs , rippling curtains or shooting rays that light the sky of green and at times pink hues." For all my scientific enthusiasts , you can read more details here. The lights can be viewed in some parts of Canada , Alaska , Greenland , Iceland , Norway and Finland between September and April.
While on my Pinterest quest (because it's more like my travel agent), I came across a sequence of pictures of glass igloos and the most breathtaking view above of the Northern Lights. My first thought was , this ain't real ! I immediately needed to figure out A. where the hell is this? and B. how do I get there ? Redirected to their actual website , I began to read about their winter wonderland oasis and quickly started to picture myself building my first snowman while stuntin' in an igloo.
Break into the piggy bank now because this trip is not for the faint of coins ! The resort offers a few lodging options but all with a pretty price tag attached. The main attractions are the small and large igloos but they do have cabins (referred to as log chalets) to call your own as well. I stayed for two nights. The first night was in the cozy cabin which is about 527 USD ( prices are shown in Euros) per night and the second night was in the small glass igloo for a whopping 667 USD per night. I know some of you are thinking for those prices you better own the igloo but, catch your breathe.
If possible ,splitting the cost with a travel partner would be equivalent to a lavish night at a high end hotel suite in Miami, New York or LA. The flight cost varies depending on how far in advance you search but websites such as Secret Flying , offer plenty of remarkable flight deals from the US into Finland and many other European countries.The cost was a bit more tangible for me due to the perk of paying only the taxes for the flights because of the airline agreements as a flight attendant.
Your stay includes breakfast buffet style as well as a three course dinner. Feeling better ? I know I was when I realized that perk. The food was so fresh , delicate yet filling . For pescatarians such as myself , it was also refreshing that they had seafood and vegetarian options amidst their prefix menu, ensuring the opportunity to be happily satisfied. I indulged in fly eats such as a vegetable soup to start , fish filet with crispy skin , ranch and dill potatoes ,overlaying a vegetable medley sautéed to perfection as my entrée and a small dessert trio of whipped vanilla crème , apple crisp and raspberry cake. The food literally was beyond amazing and that was only the first night.
The resort is located in Ivalo , Finland. Ivalo is a small town and operates only two flights per day out of their airport. I had to fly into Helsinki , one stop in Kittila and finally into Ivalo. Although you can rent a car to drive yourself to and from the resort , I chose their option of an airport pickup. If you're unfamiliar with driving on icy , dark roads , it would be in your best interest to simply pay the $30 fee and get to the resort in one piece.
Arriving at the resort at night , I really couldn't capture it's beauty because , well , it was dark as hell lol but my excitement was already on another level. The driver pulled up in front of the lobby , a large cabin where the restaurant is located as well. The resort is ridiculously large and is separated by east and west villages , each having their own lobby so those in the east village like myself were dropped off with our things while the other guests were driven to their respective area. As I stated previously , my first night was in the cabin near the lobby which could not have been more convenient. The lobbies are the only area that have WIFI so it was easy for me to walk over if I needed to make a call, send a text or simply wanting to post a picture of me , in a cabin, in Finland, on Instagram. Priorities.
Not only is there no WIFI in your sleeping corner , there is not a TV either . I walked in a little bit surprised initially but I grew a quick appreciation. It was nice to just disconnect and enjoy every part of my stay in this snug lodge. The chalet included a large and comfortable bed , working fire place, spacious bathroom and a sauna ! There was a half size kitchen with a stove and cookware provided. My eyes were glued to the Finnish hot chocolate packets presented in the welcome basket along with a variety of teas and coffee essentials.
The next day involved being driven to the igloo villages. The main attraction to the trip ! After checking in the driver transported me to the igloo doorstep. It was surreal and I couldn't wait to run in. Inside the small glass igloo was so warm and comfortable especially after being in 17 degrees weather! I was in awe looking up to the glass ceiling and envisioning the stars , hopeful for the Northern Lights. Let's be real now , I also was thinking , Lord people can see me and my criminal minds/ID channel brain was like um what if the killer is standing against the glass watching me ?? Ok , dramatic but its trueeeee.
There's a small bathroom in the small igloo with a sink and toilet but to shower involves a little more work. There are separate men and women locker room cabins with community style showers , sauna , towels and hair dryers for use. It is indeed a bit of a walk and when you're cold , can feel like forever but after doing the route once , I became accustomed. I mean I needed to shower so you just have to do what's needed. The larger igloos are attached to a cabin that has a full bathroom so again, for a price you can reap that benefit.
The resort replaces the lack of technological entertainment with outdoor excursions. They offer a tour of "Santa's House" , reindeer , husky and riding safaris as well as snow mobiles , skiing , aurora hunting and ice fishing to name a few. Although they are not included in your stays package , I would highly recommend at least one of the adventures! Due to time restraints and the fact that I'm not ballin , I did the Husky Safari which was priced at $150 per person ( based on the exchange rate at the time which was in November 2017). It was one of the most exhilarating things I have ever done. The huskies are turnt up early in the morning and ready to take you for the ride of your life! You are given gear , boots and gloves (included in the price ) and partnered up to have one person steer while the other is sitting in the sled and then you switch half way through the safari. Of course when my turn arrived I was scared but the G in me would not allow me to back down. The instructors are great at educating the group before you head out and teach basic movements , commands and most importantly how to break! I promise I was listening and I was doing so well , until ..... I fell! Well more like tossed off and rolled like a cinnamon roll! You can stop laughing now. In all honesty I didn't break when I should have which caused the huskies to make a sharp right turn and had me heading left just as sharply. The huskies didn't even look back to see if I was ok but my partner sure looked back wondering how his ride would end . I wasn't injured at all ( maybe my ego a smidge ) and thankfully the guides were able to command the huskies to stop so my partner was fine as well. I was able to end the safari with my dignity and finish out the route . The group is then guided into a cabin where a beautiful fire is going and we were given the best berry tea I've ever had and small pastries. The guide concludes the tour with information on the huskies and expounds on the connection each guide has with each dog. I was impressed by the actual care and knowledge of these canines.
Viewing the northern lights were a major goal especially while in Finland. The staff said they had just viewed an astonishing show of the lights the night before my arrival and since the weather would not be clear during my stay ,my chances were slim to none. I accepted my fate and was more consumed with enjoying the experience of the resort and my igloo. Then , around 11pm on the second night laying down conversing with the stars , light began to appear ! Screams from the other igloos as everyone began to throw whatever warm on and run outside to try and capture at least one picture. My eyes jumped as I witnessed God's magic and canvas of this bright green color stream across the sky. Unimaginable and of course my iPhone camera did it no justice ! I witnessed a natural phenomenon that so many would love to see and it was like being a part of a secret between me and the heavens. The lure of this one Pinterest picture captured my spirit and I was able to connect a fantasy to reality. That is the enchantment of travel. To find yourself while you wander and attach to moments that will live through every story, memory , image and manifest another dream into your next adventure.