Getting up in what feels like the dead of night and heading off to breakfast, feels a little odd.
There’s no sunrise, no twittering birds, just the gentle crunch of snow beneath your feet and glowing Narnian lamp posts sprinkled along the way.
We made our way through the Ice Hotel grounds and over to the restaurant.
Twinkling welcomingly in the twilight.
After an unremarkable but mostly edible breakfast buffet, we trotted off for a new adventure.
Marvelling at the frozen landscape along the way.
We slipped all the way down through the estate.
And indulged in a little snooping while we waited for our guides.
Marvelling at the creations emerging from the ice.
Particularly the Ice Bar, made by pouring water over a huge balloon and letting it freeze. It draws you to it like a moth to a flame.
Soon enough we heard the tell tell signs of our guides arriving.
The sound sound of howling whistled through on the wind, filling us with a tingle of anticipation!
Our ride had arrived.
Teams of trained huskys, all howling, barking and wriggling to get going.
Keen to get out on the open snow again.
The sleds are still made the way they always have been, bent wood with reindeer hide for cushions.
We took our surprisingly comfy seats, held on tight and off we shot!
Racing along the frozen river.
Past riverside huts, houses and the local wooden church; glowing in the dull morning light.
We made for the woods, dodging along the path at a dizzying pace.
Snow dusted Christmas trees zipped past and wildlife barely took any notice of us at all.
Compared to the shrill howling and ceaseless noise of the dogs before they run, the silence once you get going is almost deafening.
Nothing but the gentle swoosh of the sleigh on the snow as you race through the most spectacularly beautiful Christmas card.
Eventually we came to a clearing in the trees, filled with nothing but knee high, champagne powder.
We stopped for a break, and got a chance to meet some of our drivers.
And play in the snow, of course!
Inside the only hut for miles around, a fire crackled and kettle whistled.
No Brit can resist the call of a whistling kettle.
We sat beside the fire with cups of tea, rosy cheeks and grins that wouldn’t budge.
It wasn’t long until the dogs started getting restless, a howl went up and it was time to leave.
With one final look at the wonderland we’d found in the middle of the woods.
And the gentle signs of the sun rising, a long way away.
We packed up the sleds as our impatient hounds looked on.
We saddled up, the driver pulled the peg, and off we went!
Homeward bound, through the mid-day glow.
When we got home, we thanked the pups, but they weren’t interested.
A quick roll in the snow to cool off, and they were ready to run again.
They live for the race.
It’s pretty special to see animals at work, loving every second of it.
Custard would be horrified, I’m sure!
If you make it to The Ice Hotel, a Husky Tour is a must.
Safely home, we explored a little more of our new frosty home.
Snug as a bug in the warmest boots I have ever worn!
Cosy Jimmy Choo Moon Boots, lined with a sort of memory foam that moulds to your foot.
Just the ticket for snow days.
We walked out along the frozen river’s edge, clambering up snow drifts and flinging snowballs at each other, and trying (unsuccessfully) not to fall ass over tit!
After lunch we made friends with a couple of shy locals.
Wrapped up warm again, and took ourselves for a stroll through the town.
Ending up in the Ice Bar, for a few pre-supper frosty tipples.
We popped along the road (about a 15min walk) to the Homestead Restaurant.
A traditional timbered building and the “chilled out” restaurant option.
Here we had the best meal of our trip so far.
Very simply cooked, delicious steaks with a trio of sauces.
And little pots of pudding, topped with lingonberry.
(Swedes will put lingonberry on anything given the chance!)
After supper we strolled home, mitten in mitten.
Full, tipsy and ready for bed!
Ready for our first night on ice.
We collected our giant double sleeping bag and listened carefully to the instructions;
We peered our way around the iced corridors, clutching the sleeping bag and looking for our room. Grinning like two excited kids on Christmas Eve!
We opted to share a sleeping bag, rather than separates. (Purely for warmth, dad.)
Turned the lights off (there’s a switch on each of the beds so you don’t have to race back in the dark!) and slipped off to sleep, in the cool, dark, utter silence of our ice cave.