We had a white Christmas in New York in 2012, but nothing like this. As much as I'm looking forward to my beach Christmas for 2013 this certainly almost has me wishing to head back to winter.
With winter well and truly here and Christmas just around the corner, next year’s summer holiday can seem a long way away.
This year I decided to embrace the winter months and go on my first ever winter snow holiday. I have been on short breaks during winter before, Bruges been one of my favourites, the Christmas markets were fantastic. But I fancied something a bit different this year and opted for a winter activity holiday to Sweden!
Winter holidays are becoming increasingly popular and there are lots of different options available. Northern Sweden was my chosen destination, or more specifically Kangos. This beautiful, remote community is surrounded by dense pine forests and stunning lakes. I fell in love with the place as soon as I arrived.
The arctic landscape had a serene and mystical beauty about it. I stayed at the charming Kangos Guesthouse, set alongside the Lainio River. As soon as I stepped through the door I was given a hearty, warm welcome by Johan and Eva the fabulous couple who run the guesthouse. Located in three beautiful renovated cottages, all over one hundred years old, my bedroom was simply furnished with traditional antique pieces and local artwork. I found the heart of this homely guesthouse was the communal lounge and dining room. I spent most nights sat around the stove reliving my days adventures with other guests. The outdoor sauna and hot tub down by the river were also certainly one of my favourite features. The setting couldn’t have been more picturesque and the perfect spot for unwinding after a fun-packed day.
My Lapland adventure began with an exhilarating huskie sled ride! After a short lesson in the basic art of ‘mushing’ I got to explore the breath-taking Lapland scenery in the best way possible. I guided my own team of dogs over frozen lakes, through the deep forests and across the stunning winter landscape for the whole day. I was sad to say goodbye to my new found furry friends at the end of the first day amazing. The thought of the homemade evening meal waiting for me back at the guesthouse just about persuaded me to leave them behind.
The next morning I was up early to try my hand at another traditional arctic pastime, ice-fishing. We headed out on snowmobile to the lake. The peace and serenity were incredible, I sat wrapped up all cosy taking in my surroundings taking in the quiet and beauty. I even managed to catch a fish. A tiny fish. But still a fish. After comparing catches, we all sat around an open fire cooking our fish and were treated to some traditional Sami stories by our guide.
We got to meet some more locals the next day when we headed out with Johan to meet Einar the owner of a nearby reindeer herd. The reindeer roam freely and wander round the forest. We were lucky enough to feed them hay and leaves, and learn all about these noble creatures.
Kangos was the perfect place to explore the beauty of this magical landscape and I feel so lucky to have met some of the people who live there (including some very cute furry ones). We also fitted in a day’s winter walking. We hired snowshoes from the guesthouse and there were lots of well-marked tracks making it easy to get out and take in the pristine wilderness. Cross-country skiing was another activity I had never tried before until this holiday, and is something I will definitely be doing again. I loved my winter holiday and think it might just have to be a yearly trip. Next time I might even add on a stay at the famous ice hotel!
Rachel is a travel lover from the north of England who loves nothing more than discovering a new favourite destination and trying the local cuisine.