|Me and some snowy Angry Birds.|
I'm continuing my series of winter magic in Finland with one more post. In March 2015 we decided to do one of the craziest things ever and caught a night train from Tampere to Kemi to visit the Snow Castle...and the next night train back - without a cabin! We'd done something similar once before when we went to Rovaniemi in the spring of 2013, so we knew we could pull it off. The trip is a bit less than 8 hours and usually the ticket is 57€/one way, but we managed to find a good deal and paid significantly less. The night train leaves at around 10 pm from Tampere and arrives in Kemi at around 6 am, which means that pretty much nothing is open when you arrive so you'll be freezing outside for quite a while before you can do anything. And anyway, if you're planning to go there for the Snow Castle, bundle up! It's insanely cold, and as you'll be spending pretty much the whole day outside, you really need to wear enough clothes.
The Snow Castle in Kemi is a work of art - I mean, what else can you say about an actual castle made purely out of snow and ice?! It's easily reachable as it's only a short walk from the city centre of Kemi. It's also right by the sea, so you really can't miss it even if you're as bad with maps as I am. Every winter, they build the castle with a different theme, which in 2015 was "Finnishness". 2017 will have quite a similar theme - Finland 100. This theme will celebrate Finland's 100th year of being independent - I'm guessing it will be quite spectacular! And in general, what an absolutely fantastic way of showing the world what we have here - sculpting it all from ice!
Anyway, we had a quick breakfast at Subway and then headed to the castle. I hope these pictures will show at least partly what an amazing place it it!
|Newly arrived in Kemi!|
|In front of the castle!|
|Kemi on a map - as you can see, it's really close to the Arctic Cicle.|
|Entering the castle...|
|Two dorks in Lapland...:D|
|Julcsi with Väinämöinen, the old sage from the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala.|
|Väinämöinen playing his kantele.|
|You can be sure to find me by any fireplace :D.|
|Ice hockey, literally.|
|And Julcsi will always find Moomins wherever she goes.|
|An ice tractor.|
|You can even spend the night in the Snow Hotel section of the castle.|
|The ceiling/roof of the Snow Hotel room.|
|We are very proud of our saunas!|
|It was cold!|
|You can spend a night in that thing, too, stargazing on the icy lake!|
|The compulsory hot chocolate!|
|Santa Claus IS Finnish, too.|
|These two dudes will also greet you at the entrance to the railway station in Helsinki,|
|Terttu - one of the two Snow Castle mascots.|
|Sledding is fuuuuun!|
What a fabulous experience, truly! The only thing that made me sad was the thought of someone putting so much time and effort towards designing and building the castle every year, and then the castle melting away in the end...I would go nuts if it was me who had been involved in all the hard work!
We still had some time before catching our train, so we wandered around in Kemi a little bit and then ended up having a really good Chinese buffet at a clearly popular restaurant. We also found a lovely little coffee shop where we had these sweet pastries called "lumipallo" = "snowball". Delicious, and very Lappish :)!
|Julcsi couldn't resist buying this harp seal <3.|
The Snow Castle is open between January and April (unless it melts away before April) every year, so if you're in the area, it's a must!
My next entry will be on a place far farmer than Kemi, namely Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Stay tuned :)!