Apprehensive, too right I should have been apprehensive. Minus 25 is pretty cold right. It is especially cold when one is spending two hours hurtling across frozen wastes on the back of a ski-doo, or snowmobile to you and me. All I can say is ski-don’t. Two hours, that is 120 minutes and I can tell you how many seconds that is as I counted almost every one of them. It started when I got on the ski-doo and realised that there are certain after effects of spending two hours on a horse when you aren’t used to it. I was soon reminded why I don’t do extreme sports, or indeed any sort of sport much. Oh and what are ironically called ‘amusement’ park rides, I don’t do those either. Even Chris can’t see where he is going and he is driving. He settles for attempting to follow the tail light of the vehicle in front. My frozen arms are locked straight and my hands in a grip shape. At least I think my hands are in a grip shape, I have no sensation in them at all. This is about five minutes in to the journey. I keep telling myself it is an experience, not one I’m planning on repeating but an experience nonetheless. I try shutting my eyes, like that’s going to help – all this means is my eyelashes freeze together. The couple in front are in their seventies and he has a heart condition, if they can cope surely I can. Has anyone ever died doing this? I am wondering how much a taxi back the 46km to the hotel will be. Actually for two hours I don’t care how much it will be, I would sell my nearest and dearest for the fare. Selling my body is not an option with it in its current state. I am being bounced up and down with rigor; rigor is actually a good description for parts of my anatomy. Finally, long after I have decided I can’t cope with any more of this, we arrive at the Snow Hotel at Yllas. When I dismount from the snowmobile my hips are still locked in a seated position. Even the young and fit admit they were hoping to see the hotel lights round every corner. And why have I endured all this? So I can spend the night in temperatures of minus 5; I am certifiable.
I am given a mug of hot chocolate. My eyes tell me I am holding it but it is five minutes or more before I can feel it. We are currently thawing out in the ‘warm’ room of the snow hotel. Then, just as some sensation is returning, we are whisked off for a tour of the snow and ice sculptures that are built annually, along with the hotel ‘rooms’. These are created by using moulds in some way. It is quite impressive – it needed to be – but why did we not arrive on a nice heated minibus, look round and then leave again, back to the excessive warmth of Levitunturi Spa? There is an ice slide, ice chapel, where some fools get married and ice crazy golf.
We eat in the ice restaurant. Tables, chairs and glasses are all made of ice. We are given a hot blueberry vodka drink. It might as well have been Ribena. My leaf steak is very tasty. Yes, I had to ask what this was too. The steak is slit horizontally and stuffed with cheese and veg. It has to be eaten at record speed before it gets cold.
A quick trip round the hotel to take photographs then down to the warm basement to get our artic sleeping bags. I could so be tempted to stay here for the night, I have even picked myself out a nice bench. I have also found two ladies who came by minibus, a minibus that is returning tomorrow with spare seats in it. Chris persuades me to adjourn to the igloo like structure that is room 407. The conventional mattress is surrounded by a headboard, footboard and two sides of ice. Who ever built room 407 must have been on the blueberry vodka as the bed is on a distinct slope. This and the slippery sleeping bag means that I spend the whole night sliding down hill and pushing Chris in to the ice bed side. In fact, once I’d stopped trying to decide if I was a) about to have a heart attack or b) going to be sick, I did manage to sleep a bit. It turns out it was a good move foregoing the ice crazy golf tournament, fruitless wait for the Northern Lights and socialising as there were insufficient sleeping bag liners to go round and those who stayed up late missed out.