I shared at the beginning of this year that one of my biggest goals for 2017 was to travel more. However, little I did know that a few weeks later, an once in a lifetime opportunity would come my way!
Thanks to Visit Finland, I was lucky enough to be able to spend a week visiting the gorgeous country of Finland, all inspired by ABC’s The Bachelor! If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll know that the last two episodes with Nick and his three final ladies took place in snowy Finland. Not only was I so excited to experience it all for myself, I was extra thrilled to be able to travel with an amazing group of ladies. Along with my go-to travel partner Katie, we were also joined by Mackenzie, Blake, Dana, Ashley and Jenn, who couldn’t have been a more fun or easy group of ladies to travel across the world with.
Our adventure began as soon as we all met at JFK to board our 8.5 hour Finnair flight. The lengthy flight worried me at first, but as soon as I got cozy into my seat (my first time flying business class and what a luxurious treat!), those worries disappeared. With a full schedule planned for as soon as we landed, I made sure to catch as much as sleep as I could (the fold out beds on the plane were a lifesaver!) and before we knew it, we had arrived. Let the adventure began!
WHAT TO DO
Get Active: Even if you don’t find yourself an outdoorsy person, Finland has an activity suited for everyone. We kicked things off right away on our first day in Saariselkä and explored the snowy village by cross-country skiing. We couldn’t stop laughing at how uncoordinated we all were and it was a great way to help beat the jet lag. Finland has the cleanest air in the world and it was such a refreshing change from the city air in New York. During our visit, we also tried snowmobiling through the snowy woods, snow-shoeing, sledding and ice tubing. Our travel guides with Lapland Safaris were so helpful at each activity and also taught us so much about Finland itself. One of the best perks of visiting Finland during the end of winter is that the temperatures outside were much milder than it would have been earlier in the year. While we were of course still very bundled up (thank goodness for Canada Goose!), the sun was out shining and we were much more comfortable than expected, especially when staying active.
Holiday Spirit All Year Round: It truly felt like Christmas everywhere you turned in Finland! Reindeer roam around freely in Finland, but also helped contribute to one of the coolest ways to spend an evening under the stars with a reindeer sleigh ride (we felt like Frozen had come to life!). Finland is also known to be the true home of Santa and while visiting the town of Rovaniemi, we were able to come say hello to Santa in Santa Claus Village! We also crossed the Arctic Circle, said hello to some more reindeer (we couldn’t resist!) and also explored an incredible ice hotel in Snowman World. It truly felt like a magical winter wonderland and I had to keep pinching myself it was real life!
Dog Sled Rides: My favorite activity during the trip was taking a dog sled ride through the snowy woods. Katie and I shared a sled where we were each able to take turns steering the dogs and then bundle up in the sled to take in the breath taking views. The best part? Playing with a brand new husky puppy at the end of our ride!
TRADITIONS TO TRY
Taste The Local Flavors: Thanks to our incredible hosts, each restaurant and hotel we visited treated us to local delicacies and incredible meals. Reindeer is one of the most popular food to serve at dinner and we tried it multiple and delicious ways throughout our visit. Finland finds almost all of their food straight from nature, so expect to enjoy eating fresh berries (I loved the warm berry juice served during our outdoor activities!), mushrooms, potatoes, homemade breads and lots of fish to truly experience the local Finnish flavors. We also tried different local Finnish beer (at the same pub where Nick and Raven threw darts!) and it was one of my favorite nights getting to know all the girls.
Sauna Polar Plunge: You truly only live once, and that was the motto when trying this traditional Finnish experience! In Finland, gathering in the sauna is a typical pastime. We were pleasantly surprised to find almost all our hotel rooms had one in the room, which was the perfect way to wind down before bed. While visiting Bear’s Den, we all experienced a true Finnish sauna experience, just like Nick and Vanessa did on the show. After sweating it out for about 15 minutes in the sauna, we ran outside and jumped into the freezing lake! We then quickly headed back into the sauna and then repeated the process a few times, which lead to super soft and glowy skin. While it is definitely a shock to the system (as you can see in my face! LOL), I’m so glad we all tried it, even if it took a little extra help from vodka to make the plunge!
Stay Up Late For The Northern Lights: One of the most surreal experiences was staying up extra late our last night around the bonfire waiting for the Northern Lights to appear. While not always guaranteed, the incredible lights seen near the Arctic Circle, fill up the sky with a range of neon colors. We had been on the lookout every night, whether during our reindeer ride to our nighttime views at dinner, but our last night proved to be the winner. We spotted the faint green light in the distance and thanks to Ashley and Katie‘s camera skills, the incredible photo above was captured!
Yes Way Rosé Beanie Hat (c/o), Canada Goose Jacket (c/o)
WHERE TO STAY
Throughout our stay in in Finland, we stayed at different types of hotels to experience all the unique locations the country has to offer, many used in the filming of the show. From cozy ski village apartments at Lapland Hotel Riekonlinna to chalets at Hotel Ounasvaara to cabins in the woods at Hotel Vartiosaari on Aurora Island, all were decorated in traditional minimal Nordic style, known to many known as “Hygee.” All our hotel stays were so relaxing and after busy days of packed activity, it was so relaxing each night to wind down in the saunas and reset for the adventures ahead.
I feel so grateful that I was chosen to travel half way across the world and learn so much about an incredible country. Thank you to Katie, Mackenzie, Blake, Dana, Ashley and Jenn for being the best travel partners around and the biggest thanks of all to Visit Finland and Finnair for a week I will never forget!
Additional photos thanks to Ashley and Katie
SHOP ALL MY OUTFITS: