We have been to Center Parcs a number of times in the last ten or so years. We’ve been as a couple, with a group of friends, with family. We’ve been in the cheapest villas and spent a bit more for some luxury. We don’t go every year but enjoy it when we do – it’s a relaxed way to holiday in amongst the trees without the need for a tent or a caravan.
It’s not cheap. The holiday will set you back a good few hundred quid. Especially if you need to go in the School holidays. Booking in advance and using voucher codes helps to bring the cost down. Then the activities are also expensive and so it is wise to plan carefully what you want to do and make the most of the free and included things when you are there.
This time we stayed in a Comfort Plus (the cheapest villa type but with towels and a dishwasher thrown in) villa at Elveden. We stayed with family – two other adult couples – in a three bedroom version, a couple of doors down from four more adults from our extended family who had a two-bed villa and about five minutes walk from some good friends who were also holidaying at the same time. The accommodation was clean and had everything we needed, although we all commented that it is actually quite run down – it’s not been decorated for about ten years and everything is looking tired and worn. The block opposite us was being gutted during our stay (it’s a shame to get industrial noises from dumper trucks and diggers when you’re in the middle of the peaceful woodland – especially at 7.30am!) so we can only assume the ones we stayed in would be done soon. They need it. The photo above was taken in 2007 and they’ve not changed a bit; apart from the fact there were fewer trees (some were felled while we were there) and much less ground cover thanks to the winter. A friend likened the blocks to concrete bunkers… they are a bit really, but they nicer once you are inside! The refurbished ones appear to be getting wooden cladding on the outside which makes them look much nicer in amongst the forest.
Thanks to my sister being a teacher if we want to holiday together we have to choose school holiday times, and so naturally Elveden was full of families. But we have to say it didn’t feel heaving around the Village at all, it was bustling in places, yes, and the pool did get busy at peak times, but it didn’t make much difference to the ambiance. Not having children in our party of ten meant we didn’t book any kids activities, so we don’t know how booked up they got.
I’m not going to go through everything we did on our break at Center Parcs, but having been a few times I simply wanted to bring you a few tips for enjoying your holiday. I hope you find these useful.
Arrival and Departure
You can get in to your Villa from 3pm but you can arrive before then and use the facilities – the same applies on the last day; you must be out of your Villa by 10am but you can stay all day if you like. We timed it just right this time I think; we got to the arrival booths at 2.50pm having met up down the road at Kings Lynn and had Pizza Hut buffet lunch, so we were able to drive straight round to the Villa. It can get very busy on the narrow Village roads on arrival and departure day – watch out for pedestrians and cyclists and when parking get yourself as clear of the road as you can.
Eating and Drinking
Center Parcs Villas are Self Catering, which is great because it means you can spend as much or as little as you like on food. But bear in mind the kitchens are small and only have the basics – they are not designed for cooking for big families! If you are cooking every meal yourselves then take a big pan and a baking tray with you! I did fajitas for ten; our Villa slept six but the frying pan would only take enough fajita filling for four (at a push) so we had cook in several loads and keep it warm in the oven – was a little stressful but loads of fun and we ate well.
Eating out is great – no more expensive than eating out in town normally but of course the bills can soon add up if you do it every night. Two informal and easy-to-eat places are the Sports Cafe and the Pancake House. Oh and the sweet potato fries at Dexters are very nice.
We highly recommend the bakery inside the Parc Market. Those cakes – especially those doughnuts and fresh cream Belgium buns – are amazing!
Take a reusable water bottle and a reusable shopping bag with you. Drinks are expensive (£2.50 for a large coke) and there aren’t any drinking fountains about that we saw (a great omission that really should be added), but you can refill in your Villa. Carrier bags at the Parc Market are 5p.
The Pool – Subtropical Swimming Paradise
Use of the pool is included in your holiday price, and it’s well worth going. We found the best times to go are first thing in the morning 10am or after tea 7pm – it’s busiest from about 11am to 4/5pm. The pool closes at 9pm (I’m sure it used to be 10pm) and it’s a great way to spend the evening.
You will need £1 for the lockers (returnable) – I had two of those trolley coins one of which worked fine and the other that didn’t because it was too thick. There is shampoo/shower gel provided in the shower area and plenty of space to get changed. If the cubicles are busy there are also communal changing areas which are often empty.
The rapids and new Cyclone ride at Elveden are great fun. At busy times we queued for probably 20 minutes for the Cyclone – it’s well worth it, it’s fast and fun, a great addition to the pool. They’re still doing work too; the area for young children was being refurbished while we were there. Oh and take our word for it – the plunge pool is VERY cold!
If you are wanting to book activities then the best thing is to get them booked online in advance; they get booked up and you don’t want to be disappointed. If you do want to book activities while you are there you can use the kiosks dotted about the Sports Plaza or if you have a smart phone then the website is great for mobiles – you just need your booking reference.
Activities can be expensive but they are well organised and great fun. Over the years we have done many of them – it’s one of the things I love about Center Parcs, you can try new things, have an adventure. I would especially recommend the Quad Biking, Cable Ski (that will get a whole post to itself sometime soon) and Aqua Sana Spa (a three hour session at the Spa is just £30 – money well spent for a very relaxing experience). If you like water then the lake is a great place to spend your time – you can get a Kayak or Pedallo without advance booking from the Boat House. Crazy Golf is also a nice way to spend a couple of hours, but like the Villas it could do with a bit of refurbishment – the “greens” are very worn and the course itself hasn’t been updated for years and years. Next time I think we’ll try the shooting and the segway experiences.
Of course you can cycle for free (if you take your own bikes, but hiring is also good value) and there are plenty of Village roads and woodland trails to explore. But if you are cycling then please learn how to use your bell… or at least say excuse me rather than barging past walkers. The paths aren’t that wide and a little courtesy goes a very long way. Oh and take a bike lock; cycle security is a known problem at Center Parcs and you can see signs everywhere warning people to lock their bikes up.
You are staying in the middle of the forest where Center Parcs has been set up for quite some time – you will see wildlife and it will be quite tame. You will see monkjack deer, squirrels, rabbits and various birds from the comfort of your Villa sofa.
A few of us got up for the Woodland Awakening nature walk that started at 7.30am one morning this time around. I associate Center Parcs with nature and there are a number of these things put on through the week – taking advantage of these activities is a great idea. We met up with one of the two Conservation Rangers who introduced us to ducks, geese, rabbits, birds, and most impressively a herd of red deer on the Warren just to one side of the Village. Spring hadn’t fully materialised yet, but we had a lovely wander in the woodland and learnt a lot about what was going on around us. And a mallard fed from my hand which was an odd experience!
You are in the middle of a forest somewhere quite rural – don’t be surprised if your mobile signal isn’t that great. There is wifi in the central areas (which is actually very slow – slower than my 3G connection) and in some Villas (but not in the Comfort Plus one we stayed in this time). But you are on holiday, it’s nice to have your phone to tweet and what have you, but relax and don’t worry about it!
Fashion? Really? Don’t bother! Leave the fancy outfits and nice shoes at home. The dress code is oh so relaxed and no-one cares – think trainers/boots and wellies, joggers and jeans, t-shirts and jumpers, waterproof coats. Outdoors clothing all the way.
I will leave you with this photo of something that made me smile from ear to ear – Mega Marshmallows. Available from the Parc Market they are seriously massive. Huge. I simply couldn’t resist!
Back in January LincsGeek and I spent a fabulous week in Ruka, Finland, where we enjoyed some amazing scenery and lovely ski runs. [Read about the trip here.] The thing about Ruka that we really liked, apart from the fact that we often had runs to ourselves, was that it was more than just a ski holiday. It was a winter holiday – the landscape and location meant that there was so much more to enjoy thank simply hurtling down the slopes over and over again.
We booked two excursions through Crystal Ski when we booked our holiday – two things that we didn’t want to miss out on. Booking with your holiday makes sense really; first it means you’ve paid for the activities before you arrive on holiday so it’s easier to budget and you don’t use up those Euros on your first day, and it also means that should activities get booked up you have your place firmly secured. We chose two things from my big list to take part in – a snowmobile ride one evening, and a husky farm experience and sled ride.
Night Snowmobile Safari
Snowmobiles, or Skidoos, are very well catered for in Ruka. With over 500km of free-to-use snowmobile runs through forests and open landscapes you could spend a whole week exploring; but we decided to book a group safari style excursion as an introduction to riding the machines.
The snowmobiles we had were something like 700cc machines – they will easily carry two or maybe even three people and reach very high speeds. LincsGeek and I had one each, of course, and after some very quick instruction (this is the accelerator, this is the kill switch) we lined up in a row of about ten or 12 snow mobiles for our guided tour around Ruka. It was 7.30pm in the evening and pitch black, we were dressed in so many clothes (suits over our ski suits, gloves over gloves) due to the -29 degrees Celsius temperatures, and could not wait to get going. The line of bikes snaked along dedicated tracks, through trees, over hills and across lakes. To be honest I had no idea when I was going over a field or over a lake, it’s very difficult to tell the difference when there is that much snow!
Speed was controlled with a squeeze handle which was very responsive. The route we took wasn’t all flat and straight, there were some sharp bends (lean!) and some fun steep ascents and descents which added to the excitement. The snake line did mean the speed was generally kept down but there were opportunities to play about with the throttle and feel the cold wind on my face. I found myself leaving a nice big gap so I could see what the engine was made of, and I know LincsGeek did the same.
Sadly the Northern Lights weren’t out to play that evening – it would have been our best chance of the week to see them, but that would have been an added bonus of what was already a really fun way to spend a few hours. If you ever have the opportunity I would highly recommend taking a Skidoo out for a spin – seriously good fun, a proper buzz, and a great way to see the landscape away from the ski runs. Next time we go (there will be a next time) we will either book the day time safari or just hire a couple of snowmobiles for an afternoon.
Husky Farm Visit
On the Saturday we spent an afternoon out on a Husky farm close to Ruka Village. The main reason for choosing this one was to have a go on a Husky sled, naturally, but this was much more than that. We took a quick ten minute coach ride to a local Husky Farm (the Finnish know how to drive in the snow!) where they keep over 200 working dogs.
Husky sleds are very simple and traditional. Made from wood, they have two skis underneath, a tall handle at the back to hold on to, a large canvas sling for your gear (or partner!), and a metal brake mechanism. After some quick tuition (stand on the skis to move, stand on the brake to slow down, jump on the brake with all your weight to stop but be prepared to keep going anyway!), we went and met our dogs. Our sled had six Huskies that were absolutely raring to go – they knew what they were doing even if we didn’t! The two at the front were the leaders, trained to follow instructions (or the sled in front in this case) and give the sled some speed. The two at the back are trained for strength – they are the ones who get the sled going, the pullers. And the two in the middle were there to assist with both strength and speed. They did not need any encouragement to get going at all, but did need an awful lot of strength to get them to stop!
We did a 5km route around some sled runs on fairly flat terrain, getting up to speeds of around 30kph we were told. LincsGeek took the sled first and I sat inside, and then we swapped over half way around. It was absolutely amazing. So smooth. Quite fast. Really easy to steer. We were told that thanks to around 30cm of fresh snow the previous night the runs were nice and even and fairly slow, but they still felt quite fast to us.
Once we returned our dogs to the farm we were introduced to some of the new arrivals – it was great to be able to play with some of the puppies. We were given some information on how the dogs are trained and looked after, and had plenty of time to ask questions and learn as much as we wanted to about the farm and the dogs and the sport of Husky sledding. The experience finished with hot sausages, muffins and tea in their hut.
It was a really fantastic afternoon that I definitely want to repeat sometime. (Note the photos are all a bit rubbish as it was so very cold!) Those dogs are amazing. You can book full day safaris too which look like great fun, although we were warned against the week long Husky Sled Safaris as they are apparently lots of hard work and you get very very cold!!
LincsGeek and I have been talking about, dreaming about, going on a motorcycle tour of the west of the USA for years. Years and years. Probably about ten years. Maybe more.
We have always joked that we probably wouldn’t actually get around to going until we both retired, by which time we would be very old and frail to fly over to America to sit on a motorbike for two weeks riding 200-300 miles a day.
But last year we decided that we were just going to go for it. So we started to research our ideas thoroughly, and when we went to Motorcycle Live at the NEC in November we made a point of speaking to a number of tour operators that offered the kind of thing we were after. We decided on the summer of 2014, decided which company and which tour, and then waited patiently for the dates to be released so we could go ahead and book.
On Friday we got the email we’d been waiting for. The tour dates for 2014. Yay!
So, in June 2014 we will be jetting off to Los Angeles with The Lost Adventure to meet our Eagle Rider tour guide and group before we spend 16 days riding Harley Davidson motorbikes through the South West of America. We will see the Grand Canyon, Bruce Canyon, Monument Valley, Death Valley, Yosemite, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco. We will ride Route 66 and Highway 1, and cover 2,000+ miles of straight and winding American roads.
I am so excited!
Before we booked our trip we had to decide which bikes we would like to ride. This is an Eagle Rider tour and so we had the choice of quite a wide range of bikes, but we both decided we should do it properly and choose an American Harley Davidson over a British Triumph or a German BMW. On Saturday our local Harley Davidson dealer – the guys who had loaned me that Sportster Nightster for our Top Down Charity ride back in 2009 – had an open house event which couldn’t have been better timed. LincsGeek had already chatted with Tim Orr from The Lost Adventure who had made some recommendations, so off we went to Lincoln Harley Davidson to sit on some and make our choice.
With a Sportster 1200 being out of the question thanks to its teeny fuel tank (finding a fuel station every 100 miles on a trip like this would really annoy the rest of the group!) I had a sit on the Fat Boy and the Heritage Softail Classic, the two smallest and lightest bigger Harleys available on the Eagle Rider inventory. But of course small and light they are not; 330kg is rather more than the less-than 200kg I am used to.
We had our free hog roast (most welcome!) and then set to choosing the right bike for each of us. I started with the Heritage Softail Classic. I could reach the floor, I could stand the bike up, but I could not reach the side stand to kick it out and put the bike back down again. Oh dear. I could ride the bike for sure, but it is big and fat and even with a 690mm seat height I am still only on the balls of my feet so I’m not sure I could scoot that thing back into a parking space. Not a chance. Moving on!
Next was the Fat Boy. Actually the same frame and tank as the Heritage Softail, it is the same weight and size but without the touring screen and some of the other bits and bobs. The biggest difference I noticed when getting on it was the seat was more scooped, it was narrower, and so I had a much better footing on the ground. Still huge and very heavy, but better. Unfortunately it seems that wasn’t the standard seat, though. Shame! But of the two bikes I preferred it, so that is the one I have gone with. It is a lovely looking machine, and I simply cannot wait to get to LA and take it for a spin.
Incidentally, LincsGeek thought he’d decided on the Road King before he sat on the Heritage Softail Classic – the Road King is simply enormous, and while the Softail is still a big bike he felt much more comfortable on it. So he’s chosen that one.
I know for a fact that if I am going to have the time of my life then I am going to have to be able to manoeuvre the Fat Boy around. I have 14 months to get much, much stronger. I’ve started running again. And I should get to the gym too. This is one adventure I’m going to have to put a lot of effort into to make sure I get the most out of it.
I have another motorcycling adventure planned for this year… The Graham Homes Memorial Ride will be raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK. Please support us if you can.
We fancied a different kind of skiing holiday this year. It took us months to decide where to go. We’ve been to Arinsal in Andorra for a couple of years and thoroughly enjoyed it, but we have really outgrown the slopes and felt it was time to move on. With only a week of annual leave left the USA or Canada was not really feasible in our opinion, and places in the Alps can be so very expensive and incredibly busy. We wanted something fairly quiet, where we could ski nice blue and red runs, improve our skiing but not be pressured by busy crowds.
We eventually settled on Ruka in Finland for a week in January. We booked through Crystal Ski at Thomson, who have had all our ski holiday business so far; we find them very professional and approachable as a company. I still like to go into a Travel Agent to book a holiday package – something about it gives me confidence in what I am booking along with physical tickets and all the information I could need. They are really friendly in the Thomson branch in Lincoln and it’s a joy to go in there and discuss our next holiday destination… Obviously I spend many hours researching holidays online too. I actually found the online price was a little cheaper than the quote I received in the branch, so I simply asked them to match it; they naturally obliged.
The Sunday afternoon flight was around three hours from Gatwick into Kuusamo airport. They know how to deal with snow over there… good job really – the runway was covered and the roads, well LincsGeek and I couldn’t always tell where the roads were and where the verge was! The transfer was just 30 minutes by coach – absolute bliss compared to the four hour coach transfer from Toulouse to Arinsal in Andorra!!
Ruka promised to be a different kind of skiing holiday. Located within Finnish Lapland it is something like 20 miles south of the Arctic Circle and around 25 miles from the Russian Border. A quiet but well used purpose built resort with a range of hotels, apartments and restaurants, the village centre is right at the bottom of the main (front) slope. It’s small but has just about everything you need – a mini supermarket, a couple of pizza takeaways, a couple of fast food chains, and a good handful of restaurants serving a wide variety of food. Most of the village is pedestrianised too. And it is all covered in a lot of snow.
You know somewhere is going to be cold when the travel brochure warns you of the temperatures. I mean, this is a ski resort, it is going to be cold. But we’re talking Lapland here. Average temperatures at the time of year we went are -14 in the middle of the day. While we were there we had -22 on the Wednesday lunch time and it dropped to -28 on the evening we went on the Skidoo ride. Wow. Cold. Seriously, take lots (and lots) of layers, and make sure you have ski glove liners and fantastic socks!
The main thing about this part of the world was simply how beautiful it was. So much snow. So much ice. Everything was covered. The trees bowed under the weight of all the snow piled up on the branches. We were told that on the Friday night there had been something like 50cm snow fall overnight in some places – 20cm on the main slopes – which gave us the opportunity to practice our skiing in beautiful fresh powder. (For the record neither of us has experienced powder like that before; we had no idea what we were doing!!)
Skiing (and boarding) wise you have quite a large area to explore, with a good mix of blue and red runs and a few blacks too. There’s a good sized ski school with its own green slopes, and a couple of ski hire shops to get you kitted up. We used the Piste Rental Shop as this is the one Crystal use – we’d prebooked our ski hire when we booked the holiday. It seemed to be the busier of the ones in the village, but there was no wait when we went to get our skis. LincsGeek has his own boots so he just needed skis and poles, whereas I needed boot as well, but I was looked after by a great bloke who got me set up in no time. I always struggle with ski boots; my large legs mean I have a problem with certain boots as they don’t do up at the bottom of my calf. This wasn’t an issue thankfully as after failing with one pair of boots the guy in the hire shop could see the problem (“my legs are too fat” doesn’t always translate well) and without embarrassing me swapped my boots over and I was on my way. We were both told that we could go back and swap our equipment any time if we wanted or needed too, which was a good thing to know.
Slopes and Lifts
From Ruka Village you have the choice of two chair lifts – A and B – that are your doorway to the slopes. You can explore the whole resort by using a variety of chair, t-bar and button (platter) lifts. I don’t think we are unusual in that we really hate t-bar and button lifts, we will go out of our way to avoid them if at all possible, and thankfully the slope map showed a good number of chair lifts that meant we had plenty of kilometres of runs open to us. Unfortunately on the Tuesday the main chair lift – lift N – was closed for maintenance so we had to use a t-bar and a button to make our way back to the main slopes. We did it… but didn’t like it! The six man Ruka Express lift is a bubble lift and so has the canopy that comes down over you to keep you warm (well, warmer!) whilst sat still. The bubble means it closes when it’s windy, which it was for another couple of days, but by then we had worked out other routes around and only rarely had to use the dreaded t-bars! A good tip is to check the slope information on Ruka.fl each morning (also displayed on various screens around the Village) as they update it with any run/lift closures.
Once up on the slopes you are in amongst absolutely beautiful tree lined runs and the most amazing snow-covered vistas I’ve ever seen. No runs are very long, but they are really lovely, some are wide, others are narrower and take you into the forest areas. There’s also lots of off piste to explore, although we’re not quite ready for that yet! The slopes you can see from the Village are all red and black, the reds being perfectly skiable for an intermediate skier (even in the very strong winds we had a couple of days); but to help beginners there is a new green run that winds down the side of the hill to bring anyone less confident back into the Village. LincsGeek and I mainly stuck with the blues (the blues were very gentle, definitely on the green side of blue) and nice reds (a good mix of a little tricky and just fast), although we did both attempt a short black on the front slope which was a little scary!! I think it’s fair to say I’m stuck in the skiing rut that many people say is difficult to progress beyond – but I’m happy with my current limits at the moment.
Our favourite runs were probably the longish blue down to Vuosseli via the narrow Rosa and Rudolf run through the trees (past the reindeer pen), red run 13 at Saarua which is fairly short but allows for some decent speed, and red runs 1, 2 and 3 on the front slope which are actually all the same as they cross/weave/merge. Blue run 30 is a nice way to get across to Masto, although the day we went up to Masto peak was so windy I was pushed back up the hill!
Apart from skiing tree lined runs there is a super pipe and several park areas, a mogul run, and the biggest jumps I’ve ever seen in real life. Needless to say we aren’t quite at the point of flinging ourselves into the air (on purpose!) yet but it was great to watch others attempt and conquer those things. There is also a FIS run down the front slope and it was brilliant to watch a team – Russian – training on that. So fast! Oh and there are two ski jumps too, leading down into Ruka Ski Stadium, but neither were in use while we were there.
The slope maps, as always, are not that easy to follow; the lines on the map don’t translate well to reality, but you can generally see the bottom of the run from the top so it’s not easy to get lost. Quite a lot of the time during our week there we had lifts, runs and vistas to ourselves, other times we shared with just a handful of people. It was bliss! It did get busier at the weekend but everyone spreads out and I don’t remember queueing for a lift once.
But a Ruka holiday isn’t just a ski holiday. It’s also a place to enjoy traditional winter activities and excursions. There are miles and miles of cross country skiing trails and skidoo runs, and a plethora of other winter sports to take part in such a snow shoeing, ice skating, ice karting and so on. We pre-booked two activities for our week away; a night time Skidoo ride and an afternoon at a Husky Farm including a 5km ride on a Husky sled. Both activities were done through Crystal with the local Sufari Shop, and we were really impressed with the organisation and our guides were fabulous. I’ll dedicate a separate post to the excursions soon but I’ll just say here that if you go to Ruka you absolutely have to experience both the Husky sled and a Skidoo – both were absolutely fantastic experiences.
Ruka Suites Apartment
Accommodation wise we chose the Ruka Suites and were put in 37A and we were really impressed. It was a really lovely, well-appointed apartment in the same block as the supermarket so we didn’t have to go outside to get anything we needed. Behind our front door, which used a code entry system so we didn’t need to carry a key or key card around with us (a good idea when skiing!), we had a lounge/kitchen/dining area, two bedrooms – one double and one with bunks, a shower room and sauna, a loo, and plenty of storage space. The brochure said it would sleep four to six (four in beds, two on the sofa), and we reckon it would sleep four adults in comfort (the bunks were full sized). It was very clean and the furniture was all traditional Finnish design – straight lines, very practical. The kitchen area comprised a hob, fridge, microwave and dishwasher, along with crockery and cutlery etc; not very big but it was fine for us and we could have cooked a selection of evening meals should we have decided to! The apartment block had ski lockers so you didn’t have to lug skis and boards up into the rooms, and there was a drying cupboard in our apartment so we could get our kit (most importantly, our boots) dried out each evening. Being a Finnish apartment we had a sauna which was a real luxury, and there was a balcony although to be frank we only used this to look at the thermometer which was attached to the wall! Technology wise we had a television and DVD player in the lounge area which showed a number of English speaking channels, and there was wired broadband which we magically turned into wireless courtesy of our Airport Express which we took with us. It was a very relaxing place to spend the week as we did not have to please anyone but ourselves.
Food and Drink
We did this holiday self-catering as when we worked out pricing we decided it wasn’t worth upgrading to the next level, and while we had lots of plans to cook meals ourselves to keep the cost down what actually happened was we ate out every day! We had ordered the grocery pack for our arrival, which was a good call as when we arrived at just after 9pm the shop was closed and the restaurants were winding down for the evening – it contained bread, milk, cheese, ham, jam, cereal, biscuits, tea, coffee and juice and kept us going for breakfasts and some lunches. We used the supermarket to get snacks and drinks throughout the week, just buying what we fancied at the time – mostly chocolate and jelly sweets.
Eating out in the evening was mainly done in the Colorado Bar and Restaurant. We were going to try all the restaurants in the Village but actually kept going back to the Colorado because the setting, food and service was very good. The menu was traditional American food – ribs, burgers, steaks – with a Finnish twist in places. The first night we were a little concerned as we seemed to be the only people in there, but it did get busier as the week went on (although we never waited for a table). It wasn’t cheap (nowhere was cheap, this is Finland, and it’s Euros), but we ate very well and the food was worth the money we paid. Ruka Village can obviously cater for many more people than were there that week, it was pretty quiet, I’m not sure how busy it gets in the Finnish school holidays.
We also ate in the Rukahovi which was nice but the setting wasn’t as comfortable, and we had the lunch time soup buffet in the Piste Restaurant two or three times which was really nice – all you can eat soup and bread is just what you need when it’s -22 outside! We tried the Kotipizza takeaway on the night of our Skidoo excursion as we wanted something quickly – our pizzas were made and cooked to order in a few minutes and were very enjoyable. The food at the Hillside Family Restaurant (at the bottom of the Vuosseli slopes) wasn’t brilliant to be honest. When we needed to warm up we tended to go into the Piste Bar for a hot chocolate, which was very chocolaty and so good.
Splodz Blogz Verdict
The one question we have been asked over and over again is – would you go back? And the answer is very easy. Yes. We definitely would. We would love to. We had a fantastic week, loved the surroundings, enjoyed the skiing, were able to relax and rest (which is not always easy on a ski holiday!), found the excursions loads of fun, and liked Ruka Village itself. It would be a really nice place to ski with a group of family and friends where everyone’s level of skiing is different. You could enjoy a lovely holiday in Ruka without even putting a ski on which makes its appeal even wider.
No doubt the place will get busier as more of us Brits find out about it and more than one plane a week flies into Kuusamo, but we’re told that it hardly ever gets really busy and there are very rarely queues for the lifts. We are so glad we discovered Ruka.
A polite reminder that photography is all my own (or LincsGeek’s) work and therefore we own all copyright associated with it. If you would like to use any of my photographs please contact me first.
The Big Blog Exchange is an exciting, unique and exclusive project that has never before been explored. Sixteen passionate bloggers will swap lives, blogs, cultures and places simultaneously in real life for ten days.
Between 7th June and 17th June, selected bloggers will have the opportunity to live and learn in a different place, immersing themselves in local culture whilst blogging on their exchange partners blog.
Bloggers will be provided with an itinerary full of experiences and activities to participate in during their stay. However, what you write about and how you choose to record the experience is completely up to you!
Sounds like fun! So I’ve signed up…
Should I get chosen, another blogger would come to the UK and I would give them my blog for ten days… you’d read their posts on here. At the same time I would visit their country, explore it, try things, meet people, and blog on their blog. Regular readers of Splodz Blogz will know that I am always looking for a new challenge, something new to try, a new adventure; this seems like something that would give me loads of new experiences, and be something I would remember for ever.
In order to register in The Big Blog Exchange and be in with a chance of being one of the 16, I had to write a short piece explaining why I wanted in:
Life is all about the journey. The challenge is to make the most of each day, to spend time learning, experiencing, trying.
I don’t believe that life, my life, is about being the best at everything – I enjoy too many things for that to be possible. But it is about exploring the world around me, learning and developing as a person, trying to make a difference in little and big ways, being inspired and inspiring others, setting challenges and achieving goals, and taking opportunities I’m given to try new things.
The Big Blog Exchange would be an extraordinary thing to take part in. It would allow me the opportunity to do something incredible, to immerse myself in another place and to do exactly what I want in life – to learn, to experience, to try. I once wrote that I was too old and sensible for adventure; but I know that I am happiest when living in the moment and doing unforgettable things, and when I am reminded of them.
Can you imagine?! It’s the stuff of dreams. It would take me away from everyday life and provide a totally unforgettable experience that I could share with the world through my blog. Life is all about the journey, and this would be a pretty awesome journey to go on.
This is a Vote for Me Competition…
If you think that I would make a worthy participant in The Big Blog Exchange, and if you think you’d enjoy reading about my experiences while exploring another country and those of my exchange partner, then I’d really appreciate a vote. I am well aware that vote for me competitions are fraught with potential issues, but hey, if I didn’t try I’d never know if this adventure was meant for me.
Hostelling International are looking for just 16 bloggers from across the world so I know it’s unlikely, but it’s gotta be worth a try. After all, I’ve learnt that opportunities like this don’t come along very often, and when they do you have to grab them. I’ve had awesome experiences thanks to someone taking a punt on my behalf in the past – I’ll never forget being a torchbearer – so this time I thought I’d take a punt on myself. This is me giving something adventurous a fighting chance. Because I felt like it.
Here’s the link you need… go vote (please!), and tell everyone!
Oh, and if you’re a blogger and think “I want some of that” then go to The Big Blog Exchange website and register yourself… Your blog can be on any topic and you can be from anywhere in the world. I would love to know if you’ve registered after reading my blog (comment below) – I might even vote for you!
I was featured on The Big Blog Exchange blog as they like my motivation, which is very nice >> Motivations We Love! http://blog.bigblogexchange.org/2013/03/02/motivations-we-love/
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of top quality holiday resorts dotted around the world, and each of them has its own unique characteristics to offer the visiting tourist. Thanks to this diversity, it’s possible for anyone to find the ideal location to suit their needs, from secluded coves and private beaches to impressive sports facilities and theme parks.
But if you happen to be on the lookout for a place where the party never stops, and where you can let your hair down and enjoy a wonderfully exciting atmosphere, the island of Ibiza surely has everything you’re ever likely to want. Here, you can dance till you drop all through the night and relax amid tranquil surroundings during the day.
A Large Choice of Places to Stay
The truth is that San Antonio is like any other main street in a holiday town during the earlier part of the evening, making it suitable for most visitors. It’s only later on when the place comes to life on a grander scale, and from that moment right through to morning it’s as lively, raucous and exciting as anywhere in Europe.In the centre of San Antonio, there is a huge choice of lively bars and clubs that are perfect for those who want to really let go, but there is a popular misconception about the region that suggests it isn’t going to suit those who simply want to enjoy a pleasant meal and a few drinks before returning to their hotels.
Three hotels that are ideal to enjoy all of this are the Sol Ibiza Hotel, the Fiesta Palladium Palace and Hotel Brisa. They are all ideal for the quintessential Ibiza holiday – compromising of comfort and convenience.
A Chilled Atmosphere
The secret of any great holiday isn’t usually the entertainment, although of course it helps to make is a special occasion. The most important factor has to be the accommodation.
The local hotel owners know that the majority of guests like a quiet afternoon in order to recover from the previous night and of course to prepare for the next one. That’s why there is always a chilled atmosphere around the swimming pools, as well as plenty of secluded areas in and around the hotels themselves, so visitors can get as much peace and quiet as they need. And with Jet2.com offering cheap flight to the Balearics nowadays, anyone can come and join in the fun.