Visit Kivijärvi in winter

Visit Kivijärvi in winter

Travel journals continued…

31st December 2022

After a mixed evening at the Arctic Snow Hotel, we changed in the locker room, packed up our things and went off to what was to be our last buffet breakfast for a while! It didn’t disappoint, in fact, it was very good. We didn’t want to hang around too long as we knew we had a big day of driving ahead of us, so we ate, had coffee, took photos with certificates saying we successfully slept in Arctic conditions and then set off for our visit Kivijärvi in winter experience.

The expected travel time from Rovaniemi to Kivijärvi was six hours by road, just over 500km. This obviously seemed like a good idea when we first booked it, but when it was upon us, it seemed like a really long trip…and it was!

We travelled along highways, back roads, through heavy snowfall, through rain, we watched the temperature gauge go above 0 degrees and then fall below again. We drove from dark, through the light and more dark. It was a long day for the kids. It was a long day for Geoff driving. It was a long day for me after the awful night I’d had the night before! It was tough all round, but we made it! The hire car had got us to where we needed to go and we were relieved!

Anxiously driving into Kivijärvi, we were pleased to see lights which meant there was a town that existed here. There is a slight unnerving feeling when you are driving in the pitch black towards a town you know nothing about and know no one who has been to before. Seeing lights was a great start. Google Maps was telling us we were fast approaching Holiday Village Hannunkivi and all of a sudden, there was the driveway! What made us even happier was to see that they were in fact expecting us, our names were in the booking log and they had keys to our cottage ready and waiting! Ahhh the relief!

When we unpacked the car, our bags exploded just inside the door, the washing machine went on, a pot of water was put on the stove for a quick pasta dinner and showers and pj’s were donned. We instantly felt calm. Ready to relax, recover from illness and recharge for the next part of the trip.

Little consideration was made for the fact that it was New Years Eve. We celebrated in the car earlier in the day when 3pm rolled around and it was midnight in Australia; that was enough for this tired family.

There were early nights all round that night. Dark nights. Blinds AND curtains and no street lights to keep us awake. We knew Hannunkivi was going to be a great stay!

Rest and relax in Kivijärvi

1st January 2023

We woke at Hannunkivi Holiday Village to clear skies, warmth throughout the cottage, snow covered grounds, green tall trees outside and all feeling somewhat refreshed.

Unfortunately Finn woke with a swollen gland under his neck. We are treating him with a dose of antibiotics which we brought with us, panadol and neurofen, lots of water and rest! It is New Year’s Day, so there weren’t really any other options at that point in time. He was in good spirits, so we were hopeful that our treatment would work – fingers crossed!

The sun began rising over the lake and it looked magnificent as it started creeping higher the light shone through the tall trees and along the white snow – absolutely stunning. I couldn’t help myself, I rugged up and off I went with my camera for a wonder. 

I was also meant to be resting, alongside Finn, however, the lure of exploring a new place won me over and I was gone. I followed the road around the Holiday Village, sticking to the tracks to keep things simple and safe. I watched the sun rise, tooks lots of photos and reflected on where we were and what we were doing. A great opportunity to be grateful, appreciate what we have and the life we lead. A day doesn’t go by where we are grateful for our lives.

We spent most of the day indoors, lounging around (the boys in their pj’s all day – they loved it!), watching movies, eating, drinking water (keeping up the fluids!) and having saunas. Geoff also did a trip to the supermarket where he bought groceries so that we could self cater during our stay here. The only plans we had in Kivijärvi were to have no plans! 

As the sun set, at around 3pm, Geoff and I went for another walk around the property. We found some tracks down to the lake so we wandered along. We walked out onto a jetty where you could feel the frozen water under the snow next to it. We didn’t dare walk on the frozen lake though, you could see there were parts that were not in fact fully frozen, there would be no risk taking in that regard!

We continued to wander through the forest, watched the sun go down and the colours in the sky change. It was beautiful.

Lasagne and soup for dinner and another early night all round. Here’s hoping there will be better health tomorrow!

2nd January 2023

We had a great sleep in today. This place is so good for its darkness, such a welcome luxury!! We woke up at 8:45am, much needed rest for all of us! We had a slow morning and then headed out to have a look at Kivijärvi. We drove into the township, parked in a couple of different spots and wandered around enjoying the surrounds.

We parked near the church in the centre of town and walked down to the lakes edge. Further along we could see some people playing ice hockey on a small part of the lake. We walked over towards them as it appeared to be a nice spot where the sun was shining through the trees and creeping in from around a corner – it was beautiful. The family didn’t engage with us, we didn’t mind. We took their local knowledge to mean that it was in fact safe to walk on the lake, which we did. There were some cracks where you could see how deep the freeze actually was; it was deep! As we walked away from where we had been braving the frozen lake, we discovered that we were on the edge of the home of the property, it’s no wonder they didn’t engage! They must have wondered what on earth this family of four were doing encroaching on their space!

We moved through the town further and found the Posti. We wanted to send some things home so that we didn’t have to carry them with us while we travelled and additionally because we didn’t need them, they were souvenirs more than anything else. It cost us 99 Euros to send a box back, yikes! Originally, we were going to send two boxes but at this cost we decided that we didn’t really need to send the second. This was also the point in time we told the boys that we would not be posting their sleds from Santa home. They took it pretty well.

Once we returned from our outing, we had lunch at the cottage, then went for an afternoon treate at Hunnankivi cafe, the cafe onsite. It is the only place to get free WiFi, so we made an outing of it. The boys had some device time, downloaded some movies and Geoff and I caught up on some ‘life admin’ that still does happen when you travel!

The late afternoon was spent sledding around the roads at Hannunkivi Holiday Village and preparing dinner – meatballs, mash and veg tonight.

Karstula, Jyväskylä Region

3rd January 2023

Another sleep in! These sleeps are doing us good! I managed to get up for a run, well a run/walk. I needed to get moving again, I missed my morning outings! The clouds were back and it had snowed overnight so there was a lovely fresh layer of snow everywhere. It was still a little slippery underfoot, there was a lot of ice around at Hannunkivi so we had to be very careful. I ran along the footpath towards the main town of Kivijärvi. It was incredible to see the difference in colours without the beautiful sunshine we’d had the day before.

After breakfast we jumped in the car with sleds in tow and headed to the sled park. We found the sledding hill and had to make an assessment of where it was going to be best to let the boys go. At the bottom of the hill was a lake, a frozen lake…to our knowledge it was frozen. Fortunately it had snowed overnight so the snow was a bit soft on top but it was still pretty icy! We decided to let them go from half way down the hill and stood at the bottom ready to body tackle them if they were going to go past us! Luckily, they got up enough speed and crashed before the bottom. They certainly got up some speed and it looked and sounded like loads of fun!

After the sledding fun, we got in the car and drove to another village within the Jyväskylä Region for lunch. The town was called Karstula. We chose Karstula based on a Google Search for ‘open’ cafe for lunch. We found a lovely cafe called Lahikontti, it looked great in the photos and fortunately it didn’t disappoint. The food was great, as was the service. They also had a little shop which I had to resist buying from. It was hard!

Our lunches were amazing! Geoff had a beef burger, I had a halloumi burger (halloumi seems to be a ‘thing’ here), and the boys ate ham and cheese toasties. We also indulged in dessert! Geoff had a berry cheesecake, the boys ate chocolate cheesecake and I had an amazing berry and cream pastry. We also had an oat milk latte, we haven’t had a milk coffee for weeks now. We were so so full!

After lunch we ducked into the chemist to see if I could get a ventolin puffer to try to relieve my chest a little. They don’t sell them over the counter like they do in Australia. Nevermind. We also visited Alko! It is the only place we seem to be able to buy wine! We bought a couple of bottles, as well as a bottle of cloudberry liqueur to take with us on our tour which starts next week.

The drive home was snowy, it was lovely. We kept our eyes out for moose on the road but fortunately we didn’t see any. 

When we returned to the Cottage, we played Phase 10 for about an hour and half. Finn won his first game and he was rapt! It was a nice quiet afternoon with the family. Our time at Hannunkivi Holiday Village was very relaxing and we’ve all benefited from the slower pace.

Salamajärvi National Park

4th January 2023

My day started with a run around the cross country ski track – that was good fun and quite an experience (I later saw on a sign that you are not meant to run/walk on the cross country ski track – sorry skiers)! Once I got back, we got ourselves sorted for a ‘day out’ – that really meant five hours out. Time is pressing when the daylight is limited! The short daylight hours do make this a bit tricky to spend enough time at some places. But, it just means we have to go hard for the five to six hours we get each day!!

Our Wednesday began and ended with some great views, fun, and carnage at the sledding hill in Kivijärvi!! The walk up the hill was tough going, so we had to break our sledding time in half so the boys had a break in between the sessions. They sure did some k’s up and down the hill!! It was loads of fun!

Our morning sled session was about half an hour and then we were off to Salamajärvi National Park. The drive there was absolutely stunning! The beautiful sunshine, the snow spattered across the tops of the trees and branches and the snow covered roads – magnificent. It was so hard not to stop every five seconds to take photos.

Salamajärvi National Park is located just twenty minutes from Kivijärvi and is an absolute must visit if you’re in the area. Kivijärvi felt like the middle of nowhere, which it kind of is, but WOW what a magnificent middle of nowhere! 

We didn’t stay too long. Enough time for a snow picnic, exploration, a walk on another frozen lake, cookies by a fire in a tee-pee someone had recently left and to completely and utterly fall in love with the place!  

We were fortunate to visit on a beautiful sunny day and were there to see the sun go down. The colours were INCREDIBLE!!! Everything about the trip was absolutely stunning!

On the way home we stopped by the sledding hill again for a final sled on “the best sledding hill ever”. The boys wore themselves out completely and had an absolute blast doing it!! It is so good watching them love these amazing experiences!

Back to the Hannunkivi Holiday Village for some more sledding outside the cottage and packing up and dinner prep inside the cottage! We had pizza for dinner, played Phase 10 and an early night, ready for the next day where we were leaving our dreamy winter wonderland!

Kivijärvi to Oulu

5th January 2023

We had another great day in the Jyväskylä Region to enjoy a drive, unlike the trip we had made TO Kivijärvi which was long, dark and snow heavy. We were headed to Oulu, in preparation for our flight the next day to Copenhagen. We were looking forward to seeing a beach side town covered in snow!