Pepperkakebyen. El pueblo de galleta de jengibre.
One of the food we normally associate with Christmas dates are ginger cookies. Along with rice pudding is one of the most typical christmas desserts that never miss in a table in Norway. Kids enjoy helping mothers to prepare cookies to eat them as a dessert with all the family.
Though the cookies with Gingerbread Man's shape –also known as Gingy- are the most popular, the true is that there are no limits when preparing these sweet creations made of ginger and aromatized with cinnamon or honey: they may be oven cooked like Santa Claus, christmas tree or even you may build up a whole city of them.
In Bergen they know this fact quite well. From Christmas in 1991, the city center -Torgallmenningen- becomes the sweetest place in the world with the creation of Pepperkakebyen- the Ginger cookie's biggest town in the world-. They create tiny little houses, trains, cars and ships made of ginger bread, candy canes and they use glass sugar to stick all together.
Everybody helps to make this ginger town grow up, from kindergarden children to school kids that contribute with their own creations. That is why every year Pepperkakebyen is visited by thousands of tourists attracted by its magic and who want to be wrapped with the christmas spirit. It will be open the whole month of December.
Makes you want to go, right? Do it! Check out our prices here!more info
Travel to Santa Claus home
But, what and where is Lapland? This is a tough question. This territory, above the Artic circle is divided between Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia. However, officially Lapland is where the Sami live. Generally, people refers to Lapland in Finland or Sweden, neither Norway or Russia refer to their territory under this name, and usually Lapland (or Laponian region) is the name used to the union of the Swedish and Finnish areas.
For the matter of this post, we should go to the north of Finland, in the Finnish Lapland. The capital is Rovaniemi, an iconic place in which the line of the Artic circle passes across. This is an area to start wild adventures, among thick forests and wooden houses (mökki) there is the highest mountain in the country, some of its fjords and one of the best places in Finland to see Northern lights and enjoy the amazing view of the sun at midnight.
This area is known for being Santa Claus hometown (Santa in Finnish is Joulupukki). The translation is quite confusing: “Joulu” means Christmas, all right, but “pukki” means, literally, deer or goat. Years ago, people was afraid of him and nobody knows when, eventually, he became the charming elder he is now. The tradition of Joulupukki is from the beginning of the 19th century, even most of the Finnish tradition was lost after the story of Santa Claus was Americanized.
Thousands of letters are sent to the postal code of this town with tones of Christmas whises. They are collected and arranged by Santa’s hard-working assistants, the elfs. Attention! The address is: Santa Claus, 96930 Polar Circle, Finland. When Santa Claus gets to people’s houses he asks "Onkos täällä kilttejä lapsia?" (There are well-behaved kids here?), and kids should answer a convincing yes to receive the gifts.
It’s not only Santa Claus who makes Rovaniemi one of the most visited places in Finland. Around his figure and Christmas traditions, Santa Claus village was built, about 8 kilometers northeast from Rovaniemi. This is a theme park to do some shopping, participate in gifts workshops or simply enjoy a great variety of activities.
You can also visit Joulukka, the place where elves prepare the trip for Santa Claus. You will find out how elves live, you’ll be able to help them bake ginger cookies with Christmas decoration and they will guide you to meet Santa Clause.
Do you want to see what is Santa Claus doing right now? Easy! Santa is so updated on new technologies and he has cameras streaming live his daily work. One camera is outside the office and the other is inside to watch how he gets ready for this special day.
A good option to go from Helsinki to Rovaniemi is taking the high-speed train, which takes only 10 hours. You’ll feel like the main character in the animation movie “Polar Express” who takes this train on Christmas Eve to meet Santa.
But, besides the visit to the land of Santa Clause, there are many other things to do while you are in Helsinki for your winter trip.
Even Finnish people use the sauna all the year, the contrast with the freezing cold outside is the best way to enjoy a hot sauna to get over the cold. Or, for those looking for unforgettable experiences, you should try avantouinti. What is that? There a clubs in Finland to practice ice swimming. They make a hole in the ice of a lake (the hole is called ‘avanto’) and they get in the freezing water after the sauna. They state it has beneficial effects for your health but be careful or you’ll get a cold.
The winter in Finland is the greatest time to take stunning nature photos. The snowy landscapes are unforgettable memories from your trip and the whole country is covered in white most of the winder. Take advantage to the opportunity of practicing winter sports too. Skiing or skating over iced lakes is such a unique experience.
Pictures by Tarja Ryhannen
A place well worth discovering! Check out our flights here.more info
Brexit: Which documents do I need to travel to London or UK?
Although in general European citizens will not need a visa, from 1 October 2021 they will have to travel with a passport that is valid for the duration of their stay in the UK.more info