I managed to meet up with Santa twice today. All those years I never saw him and then like buses, he comes along twice in the space of an hour!
My first encounter was in the base ski slope cafe. It has become our favourite watering hole......hot chocolates, French fries to die for and donuts which, frankly, are probably the best in the world! Crisp, sugary and just dissolving in your mouth....scrumpdidlydelicious is all I can say. The cafe is homely, typically pine clad ceilings, small sash windows with checkered cloth curtains tied back. Tables have large red candles on them. Service comes with a smile. A roaring fire at one end and a warmth that is just right, not too hot, not too cold. You can strip off a couple of layers and then be fine. Well there I was peering out of the window and lo and behold Santa magically appeared at my elbow, silently but with a beaming smile. Sweeties were proffered and gladly accepted and yes, I think they were probably the best tasting sweeties in the world!
And yes, layers are definitely needed, for today reached minus 27celsius. Bitterly cold, I wore two thermals, a jacket, a fleece and then my outer mountain coat. Two thermal hats and a helmet and goggles. Inner gloves, two pairs and then the outer. The key, not to over heat but to stay warm. No chance of overheating today....oh my it was cold. My eyelashes froze again. My daughter, her escaping strands of ginger hair turned white with hoare frost....an interesting new hairstyle! But at 10.00am the sunrise high up from our mountain top was to die for.......the sun so low on the horizon....the skies a mixture of pinks and oranges whilst above the deep dark blue of space with twinkling stars. Only three hours of daylight today, the ski lifts close at 2 pm. Most Finnish people have their Christmas meal on Christmas Eve and that is why the lifts won't open until midday tomorrow......some headaches I suspect.
This morning I had the slopes, views and sunrises to myself. I have never been the first to leave trail marks on a fresh piste before. To my shame they were pretty appalling ski tracks.....a sort of sliding down wiggle. I ruined it for whoever followed....sorry!
The sky was a luminous deep blue and not a cloud in sight......I bet the northern lights were fantastic early this morning when we were all tucked up in bed!
Back at the hotel after three hours of skiing during which time I lost contact with any facial features, I sat in the bar with 'her indoors' on comfy sofas watching Finns come off the slopes to have celebratory drinks before heading home to their family festivities. A riot of colourful ski apparel from fluorescent greens and yellows to bright pinks; lots of laughter; hats, helmets and gloves scattered across tables and chairs. Some form of hot gluvine in glasses seemed very popular.
And then they were all gone. Just us left, the soft music playing, the large picture windows showing the steep forested slopes down to Pyha village below us. Away across to the horizon, the flat northern plains, forested and interspersed with lakes. Snow was beginning to fall obscuring the horizon......and then magically again, Santa appeared at my elbow. No warning, no sound. I blinked and there he was! He really is a magical fellow that Santa!