It was January 2014 when we made the trip to the Travel Show at Earl’s Court. At the Wexas stand we filled in the forms for a trip to Lapland – and, to our amazement we won the trip! Since April last year we have known the exact itinerary, and been waiting excitedly for the 6th March 2015.
Now we’ve been, and this is how we found it: SAS flights, Heathrow to Stockholm, then Stockholm to Lulea. Thomas was waiting for us at the airport waving the sign with our name on it. Following an hour long snow covered ride, we arrived at Sorbyn Lodge where we were met by young Nina who had the sauna already heated for us. We had arrived in winter wonderland!
After a short rest a fantastic three course meal, including Arctic Char fished locally – total VIP treatment – as we were the only guests that day. Love arrived and escorted us to his snow mobile garage where we were kitted out. After some instructions, off we went, I driving my own, and Chris (my wife) seated behind our guide – over the icy lakes and through the snowy forests at great speed. We stopped by the side of the lake, and in the darkness, Love taught us how to light a fire on which we grilled sausages. Then, lo and behold, the Northern Lights appeared above us – an awesome sight! We then headed back to the Lodge at about 11.00 pm and straight to bed.
Saturday morning, Richard picked us up at 10.00 am and took us to the enclosures where his beautiful huskie dogs were kept – half Siberian and half Alaskan. We followed the preparations as ten of them were harnessed together, and off we went on to the ice and into the forest again – this time a rougher ride, but equally exciting. By now it had started to rain, so Richard stopped by a wooden shelter and cooked us a lunch called palt, mainly consisting of potatoes and flour. Back to Sorbyn Lodge, and transferred by car to Pine Bay Lodge (weather considered unsuitable for planned snowmobile transport). The rest of the day was for relaxing – and boy did we need it!
On Sunday, we enjoyed a Snowmobile Safari between 10.00 am and 2.00 pm. Andreas had the snowmobiles ready for us by the lakeside, and the weather was glorious. It was our longest ride so far. Lunch was prepared by Tommy in a huge Sami tent - including delicious reindeer meat. On our return trip – we had a stop on the ice. Andreas taught us how to drill a hole in the ice. We tried to fish through the hole, but alas no catch. On our return the sauna was heated up for us, and we witnessed a glorious sunset. After the three-course dinner, Goran, the owner of the Lodge, took us on a snow-shoe walk near the Lodge – not as easy as we thought. Intention was to see the Northern Lights again, but no success this time. Shattered, we headed to bed early for our last night at the Lodge.
We were picked up at 11.00 am the next morning by Graham, an Australian. He took us to the World Heritage Church Town called Gammalstad. The church was set beautifully in the centre of the old town – surrounded by 400 plus cottages to accommodate visitors to church festivals through the centuries.
Our final meal was in the Culture Centre, overlooking the iced-over river where we saw people enjoying walking their dogs, skiing, and kick-sleding in the beautiful sunshine: a beautiful image to carry in our minds as we headed to the airport.
To us this was not just about activities, but about the lovely people we met who live and work in that beautiful part of the world. Everyone gave to us whole-heartedly; keen to talk about themselves, and their part in the tourist industry. We soon realised that they were all involved in providing this superb prize for us. There isn’t praise enough to express how good the accommodations have been.
May we ask that this thank you note be passed on to all those who made it such a wonderful holiday. This truly was a holiday of a lifetime!
Kjall (Thomas’ father – ex mayor of Lulea for 13 years)
Kerstin (owner of Sorbyn Lodge)
Nina (Receptionist etc at Sorbyn Lodge)
Love (Snowmobiles & Sausages)
Richard (Dog Owner)
Goran & Ann Helen (Owners of Pine Bay Lodge & Brandon)
Tommy (Meal in Tipi)
The excellent chefs at the two Lodges
Any others.........Many thanks!
P.S. We are also grateful for the opportunity to spend three nights with my wife’s sisters in Stockholm, arriving back at Heathrow on Thursday 12 March, in time to phone our Grandson who was 5 yrs old that day.