So this blog includes two of my favourite things; Father Christmas and CrossFit.
Santa, I know him! You may not know it but you can visit the real Father Christmas. He lives in Santa Claus Village, a couple of kilometres outside of Rovaniemi.
His village is located on the edge of the Arctic Circle and that is as good as the North Pole as far as I’m concerned. His workshop is a little more Gothic than you might expect, and, Adeladians, Nipper and Nimble were not there.
At 29, this was probably my most exciting visit to Father Christmas. He asked us where we were from etc and he was gracious enough not to mention the time he caught me having a tantrum in the shopping centre (although I’m sure he remembers).
Although nothing compared to getting to meet the man himself, the other exciting attraction at Santa Claus Village is his official post office where you can send postcards from within the Arctic Circle.
The only downside to the visit was when my definition of sadness was redefined again- it is now having to wait for a public bus home for an hour in -23 degrees (we gave up and taxi pooled back to town with a Spanish couple who had been waiting for 2 hours and had had the Christmas spirit firmly frozen out of them).
Move over Rudolph What better way to finish off a visit to Father Christmas than with a night time reindeer sleigh ride through the forest. Ryan made sure to brush his teeth before we left for the ride to make sure that the reindeer couldn’t tell that he’d tactlessly eaten Smoked Reindeer Pasta for dinner.
The sleigh ride was very cool. We were tucked into a two person sleigh complete with blanket to keep toasty and our reindeer, Betany was very cool. He was very gung ho and did his best to overtake the other reindeer but did not exhibit any of the indecent behaviour seen on our husky ride!
The ride finished with a campfire, warm juice and bun. The guide asked everyone where they were from, and ‘Australia’ elicited a chorus of oohs and ahs. The general reaction from people throughout Russia and Finland has been one of pleasant surprise that Australians would travel so far followed by the intimation that we must not be very bright to do it in such cold weather.
We were lucky enough to top off our visit to Rovaniemi with a half day of snowmobiling. Despite the fact that half of the group could barely struggle their way into a pair of mittens and that one of the families included a child old enough to speak in full sentences who was still sporting a dummy (super creepy), this was another great snow adventure.
It included the obligatory snow onesie and a campfire, although this time we got to roast sausages, or in my case, enjoy a delicious bread roll.
Sorry Mum Our plans for Helsinki included exactly zero tourist time and involved 1) CrossFit 2) Catching up with my lovely friend from Greece, Krista.
We were very excited about our visit to CrossFit Central Helsinki and allowed ourselves plenty of time to get there from the airport. Like many boxes, CF Helsinki is in a semi industrial area. We managed to get the tram to the general vicinity but then became a little bit undone as we found ourselves amongst commercial port facilities and blocks and blocks of construction with no street signs.
We were standing on a snow, deserted street corner when a lovely stranger in a big black van pulled up and asked if we needed help. I should point out here that he had really nice eyes (although he didn’t have any candy) so when he said that he knew where CrossFit was and offered to give us a lift in the back of his van I happily accepted and climbed in.
A short bumpy ride sitting on a wheel arch, and a nagging feeling that my mum wouldn’t approve, and we were there. The factory building itself was not well sign posted but there were a group of blokes hanging around outside the door. I began to get the impression that they were not CrossFitters because apart from smoking, one of them pulled a can of rum out of his bag.
Fortunately we were rescued again (from a paintballing bucks party it turned out) and led inside by a lady who turned up and could tell that we were obviously lost as we tried to ask the confused party if they knew what CrossFit was and where we could find it.
1. Heavy front squats 3-3-3 (“Ha”, said my quads)
2. Five sets of 10 wall ball to be performed while ‘resting’ between squat sets (“You have got to be kidding” my glutes chimed in)
3. 5 minute AMRAP -10 broad jumps, 15 hollow tucks (“It’s your decision but you’ll regret it later” warned everything from the abs down).
It was awesome to visit another box. The owner, Ben is an Australian bloke from Melbourne who runs the box with his girlfriend Hannah. They were very welcoming and fortunately despite six weeks off, Ryan & I managed not to embarrass ourselves or CrossFit Broadbeach.
We have been nothing but embarrassing since however as we groan and moan our way along the street, on & off of seats, and up & down stairs. CrossFit in London may be a day or two away yet.
After a lovely night and day with the amazing Sister Krista in Helsinki, we are finally on our way to London and the exciting prospect of spending 10 nights in one place! Blogging courtesy of Norwegian Air offering free wi-fi on their flights!
Next: The Tower of London, The Fat Duck and general awesomeness