Last year I had the chance to experience this icebreaker activity. Ever since I’ve been telling everyone who will listen (and even those who won’t!) that they should try this out.
Boring – I hear you say – well you are entitled to your opinion …. after you have read this blog post!
I love winter destinations and have had my fair share of visiting different places and trying out different activities. However, for me, this day of activity covered everything. The Icebreaker was a unique, unusual and exhilarating experience with all-round appeal.
When I opened the door of my hotel room, my clothing was waiting for me. A thermal suit to go over my clothes, thick socks, boots, gloves and a warm hat. My outfit wasn’t going to win any fashion awards. But, it would keep me very warm during a day that would be spent mainly outside in cool conditions.
Next morning the group met in the hotel foyer and started on the long journey to where the snowmobile safari would begin. It was all of 25 metres – just across the road from the hotel!
Snowmobile safari on the seae
We received our safety instructions and details of how to control the snowmobile. Then followed a run through of hand signals that the guide would use in order to give instructions to everyone as we traveled. It was time to start the engines and off we went onto the frozen sea.
I did remember thinking, maybe I shouldn’t have had that second croissant at breakfast! The snow we were covering just looked like a great flat expanse of land covered in snow so it did take a while to come to terms with the fact that we were actually crossing the sea. Even though it is over a meter below you.
We travelled to meet the Icebreaker vessel which had already left the harbour. Just as I had got used to the concept that I was travelling over the frozen sea on my snowmobile, I saw the most amazing sight on the horizon – a big ship cutting through the ice and appearing to float across the completely frozen water.
The signal was given to stop our snowmobiles as the ship was approaching (about 200 metres away). We dismounted with a certain trepidation. It took a while to get your head around the fact that the ice is so thick and stable over the waters beneath.
We left our snowmobiles just parked in the middle of the sea while we crossed the short distance to the vessel which had now stopped and lowered the gangplank so we could board the ship.
Breaking the Ice with the Captain
All aboard the Icebreaker
We met the Captain and had a tour of the ship including the engine room. I must admit, it was a bit more Poseidon Adventure than Star Trek!
We then headed for the restaurant for our traditional and hearty 3 course meal. During the lunch, the ship was doing what it does best – breaking through the ice. The best view was from the bow (the pointy end to those of you in the know) where we could look over and see the vessel as it effortlessly crashed through the frozen sea to reveal the water below which was almost black in colour having been deprived of light.
Swimming in the frozen sea
One of the funniest sights was to watch other people as they waddled down the gangplank towards the large hole in the ice that had been created by the Icebreaker. The crew helped small numbers of people at a time into the water so they could have more of a splash and float about rather than a swim!
I couldn’t believe that I was swimming in the sea surrounded by ice. It was a great feeling that I still talk about at every opportunity!
Once everyone had their turn in the water the ship began to head back to land and stopped by the abandoned snowmobiles so we could get off and continue the safari.
Cocktails in the Snow Castle
Our next stop was at the Snow Castle. We received a guided tour of the icy structure followed by a non-alcoholic cocktail served in an ice goblet in the Ice Bar. The price you pay for still being in control of a snowmobile, but well worth it.
Dinner at the Lodge
Then we continued to a lovely lodge where the safari ended. The lodge was typically Finnish with a traditional smoke sauna, hot tub and ice hole. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried taking a dip in water that is barely above freezing point – believe me, I know! Dinner was served in the lodge before returning to the hotel.
Sometimes when you look forward to doing something that you’ve wanted to do for a while, it can be a bit of a letdown. I left my destination with a great big smile on my face as I had experienced another dream activity that I will remember forever.