What more of a magical experience could you possibly have than a trip to see Santa in his home of snowy Lapland?
About eight years ago, my parents took themselves off to Lapland for Christmas, as both my sister and I were busy doing other things and they didn’t fancy sitting at home on their own for Christmas. They had an amazing time and said that in a few years they would take us both there to experience Christmas the way they had. A few years later, my sister had a baby and so the plans were put on hold until she was old enough to come with us and remember the experience. Now she is almost five years old, 2018 was the year we had all been waiting for and off we went!
Because of the early flight time (6.20am from Gatwick), our family decided it was easiest to stay the night before at the airport. The Sofitel in the North Terminal is conveniently within a stones throw from the terminal which was great but the queue for baggage check in was very long and took us over an hour to get through so make sure you arrive with plenty of time to spare. We arrived two hours before and only just made it on to the plane! There were a couple of set back though, firstly my sister decided to make individual Christmas Crackers for all of us to pull on Christmas Day, not considering they are technically fireworks and she could have set the aeroplane on fire by bringing them on board. The lady at the check in desk exclaimed that she “may as well have flown a drone in” with the amount of disruption it would have caused, had she not decided to double check when checking in! We were in such a hurry after that we ran all the way to the gate (full on Home Alone style), only to find we had misread the departure board and were at the opposite end of the airport to where we needed to be. Somehow we made it on to the flight and the Christmas adventure began!
On the TUi holiday’s flight, cabin crew referred to the aeroplane as a ‘sleigh’ and said that reindeer were helping to fly, which made it feel magical when the aeroplane took off and I imagined that must be how it felt for Santa to take off on his rounds. During the flight, sleigh bell sounds were played over the tannoy and there was a colouring competition for the children which stopped them from kicking the backs of chairs for a while and gave the parents a little respite.
Three hours after take off we landed in the North Pole and met our elf guide ‘Snow Princess’ who took us aboard ‘Bus Snowflake’ and took us through the ‘Elf and Safety’ procedures we needed to know (yes, everything was Christmas themed). We were taken to the Ice Hall where we collected our snow suits, hats, gloves, socks, boots and everything we needed to keep us warm in the -27 degrees temperature! It was so cold you could feel your hair (and even nose hairs) freezing up as you walked!
Once at our hotel, Christmas Cottages, our TUi rep’s ‘Mince Pie Mary’ and ‘Red Nose Ryan’ took us through a briefing and provided us with a 24 hour ‘Elf Line’ should we need help during our stay. Our family all had little one bedroom cottages with a bed, bathroom, sauna and kitchenette. Sadly, the pictures used to advertise the rooms showed a sofa/lounge area which we were disappointed not to have in any of our rooms. We consulted Mince Pie Mary about it and she agreed the website clearly shows a lounge area for the rooms we booked but unfortunately that was incorrect and only the cottages with several rooms had lounge areas. This was disappointing not to know before, as we would have all shared a bigger cottage in order to be able to sit around and open presents together on Christmas Day.
We all huddled around log fires in the hotel bar area and shared a few festive drinks before we settled down for the night in anticipation of Santa’s arrival!
Part two – Christmas Day! – coming soon!
FOLLOW WEST END WILMA