Alaric Tay in Finland
The Fly Entertainment artiste slept in an igloo and went dog sledding. -TNP
His 21/2-week honeymoon in February last year included iconic European cities like Munich, Venice and Paris.
But Fly Entertainment artiste and The Noose regular Alaric Tay and his wife, Juliet, who is in her 20s, found the Finnish leg the most memorable.
The couple, who got married in October 2010, visited Hotel Kakslauttanen's Igloo Village in the Lapland region, where they spent four days.
The 32-year-old told The New Paper: "It was a winter wonderland! Even though it was cold and snowing all the time, I just enjoyed experiencing a different climate from Singapore's.
"We were searching for a cool place to stay during our honeymoon and where we could view the Northern Lights.
"When we found that the Kakslauttanen offered glass igloos, we were ecstatic."
The couple flew from Paris to Helsinki and then to the airport near Ivalo village, taking a half-hour car ride to finally reach the hotel.
Tay said: "Kakslauttanen is quite unlike a conventional hotel.
"The main building doubles as a restaurant. In fact, we had to check in at the cashier. Each room is also quite isolated from the other rooms."
He said choosing between a glass igloo or a traditional snow igloo was easy.
"For one thing, we would have been unable to see the Northern Lights (aurora borealis) in a snow igloo (which had no transparent surfaces).
"It would also have been freezing to sleep in one. Fortunately, our glass igloo was climate-controlled.
"Juliet and I like to mess around in the snow, but at the end of the day, we prefer to sleep somewhere warm."
Tay was quite enthusiastic when he found out he would get to haul their luggage by sled to their glass igloo.
The couple were themselves hauled around when they took a sled ride at a Siberian husky farm near Hotel Kakslauttanen.
"There were six huskies to a sled, which can carry two people," Tay said.
"I let Juliet try her hand at controlling the huskies' reins, but after a while, she handed them back to me, saying she was just happy sitting on the sled.
"I guess it was because the dogs were really strong. I had trouble controlling them myself!"
He added: "It was snowing so much that everything looked white to me, but there's actually a path to follow and the huskies know this route instinctively.
"I had no idea if the huskies strayed from the path or not, but we made the ride safely.
"The only time was when we went uphill and the huskies needed a bit of a boost, so I got off the sled and helped push the sled until we reached the crest of the slope."
Fortunately, there were no horsepower issues during the couple's snowmobile ride.
"We were decked out in five layers of clothing, and we had a motorcycle helmet and balaclava for our headgear," Tay said.
"I remember when we rode onto a hillside and I saw some green lights in the sky, I was screaming inside my helmet, 'The Northern Lights!'
"It turned out that they were lights from a neighbouring town."
The couple were disappointed they didn't see the aurora borealis in Finland due to the heavy snowfall, but still enjoyed themselves.
Tay said: "The Finnish people may come across as unfriendly, but that's because they're quite inexpressive. Even when you crack a joke, they barely laugh. You're lucky if you can get them to show some amusement.
"Either it's their (reserved) culture or because it's always so cold over there!"
Did you know?
According to travel guidebook Lonely Planet, Hotel Kakslauttanen is 400km inside the Arctic Circle in Finland's Lapland region.
The Igloo Village, which offers both traditional snow and thermal glass igloos, is open from December to the end of April each year.
Each glass igloo - the first was constructed in 1999 - allows guests to view the aurora borealis in indoor comfort.
This article was first published in The New Paper.
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