Europe

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It's the Quiet Village (of Haarlem)

It sounded so idyllic, popping into a picturesque small Dutch town, to get away from the hustle of Amsterdam.  And, it was! (Caught ya!) When we had (non-)planned our stay in Amsterdam in February, we hoped for a bit of extra time outside the city. Luckily for us, we met a Dutch couple in Finland who gave us insider recommendations to visit either Haarlem or Bloemendaael an zee. So, with one final afternoon to spare in Amsterdam, we hopped squeezed in a cab hoping to make it to the closer…

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Spring Starts Early in Amsterdam

From the deep, arctic chill of meter-deep snow to the gentle, soothing canals of Amsterdam, our stop over on the way home could not have been more surprisingly balmy. We had planned for about half a week in Amsterdam after our time in Lapland, and upon arrival, stuffed our thick coats in our suitcases for the rest of the trip.  We came to Amsterdam almost as an afterthought, so had little intention or plan, other than to wander the streets, perhaps shop a bit, and maybe visit another small…

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Lapping up Lapland (and the Northern Lights!)

Cheesy title--check! Now imagine a nordic wonderland. The snow is deep as your waist, powdery and dry. The flakes fall in symmetrical prisms, each with six distinct prongs, just as children draw snowflakes.  The pines are pulled up straight to the sky like lamp-poles, caps of snow draping off each one. A cabin is hidden in the woods, and as you approach, the doors open. The floors are warm, and the smell of soup is in the air. This was nearly our exact experience at Jávri Lodge, a small…

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The Huskies of the North

The air is bright cold. That is how I'll remember it. And noise through the air is so loud I almost reach my mittens to my ears. The dogs just want to run. They are made for this and they are pulling and squealing to be set free to run. I'll admit, one of the deciding factors in choosing Lapland as a destination was the appeal of mushing huskies I saw in all the photos; something about it seemed so far away from city life. So when we booked our trip, it was my top priority. In the van on the…

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Helsinki

Helsinki, the capital of Finland, was a natural stopping place for us on the way up to Lapland in the north on our recent trip. I didn't realize until later it would have been possible to fly straight from Amsterdam to Lapland, but we're still so glad we made the stop. Just look at these golden hued homes! We made two visits to Helsinki, and spent a total of three nights in the city: two on the way up and one on the way back from Lapland. And we wish it had been more. I'd heard the city had a…

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The Lapland Snow Globe at Kakslauttanen

The land is white below the plane, and the pines straight up, not a hint of an aching back among them. We are flying over the land I have been imagining almost a year, the land above the Arctic Circle: Finnish Lapland. We land in a field of snow, and even more falls around us.  I'm simultaneously glad I have carried my heavy coat on the plane, but also stinging with cold and trying not to slip as I head toward the airport. When I dreamed of a surprise trip for Walker's birthday, I knew it…