8:20a – OSL → 11:40a KKN
There were some delays so didn’t actually land until 1:45p. Was going to take the Flypass bus (180 nok)to the city (but their credit card machine wasn’t working and I never have cash!)… So took a cab for 340 nok direct to the snow hotel. Your big luggage gets stored in a closet and you just need to bring a small overnight bag with you. They supply everything, snow shoes, balaclava, winter suit, wool socks, -30 sleeping bag, and sheet.
Checkin 1700 (includes 3 course dinner). There was no problem getting to the hotel early and just hanging out there: snowshoeing, skiing, sledding, dog sledding, snowmobiling, etc. Some activities had to be pre-booked, so check out their website: Kirkenes Snow Hotel.
Dinner starts at 5:30p with an introduction to the hotel as well as a little bit of history. Gabba is an old Norwegian tribe word for white reindeer (supposed to be good luck if seen!). Our initial introduction to the hotel was in the Gabba room. This room/hut was made from a wooden frame skeleton and then covered with animal hides for warmth. This made for easy portability.
We headed to the ice bar after our reindeer sausages. The crowberry is a fruit local to the area — it tasted like a mix of blueberries/boysenberr/etc. Sweet, but not tart.
For dinner, we had a nice selection of local cheeses (all hard) and non-pasteurized. It was delicious! The main course was arctic char and followed up with dessert –> ice cream with local berry sauce/jam, caramel sauce, and Norwegian brown cheese. By the time the dinner service was over, it was 22:00.
Headed to room #11 and picked up the sleeping bag, sheet, balaclava, and wool socks from the bathroom (warm area!). Logistics of getting into the bag and staying warm was discussed at the introductory briefing. Once inside the bag with everything zipped up, I was quite warm. Sometime through the night, I woke up a bit claustrophobic (I am not typically claustrophobic — I enjoy tent camping and am quite comfortable in a sleeping bag). I initially struggled with the side zipper of the sleeping bag…ripped my gloves off to get some air…. and poked my head out of the bag for some air. Not sure why that happened!! I had been asleep for several hours before this occurred. Maybe it was because I was fully immersed in the -30 degree cocoon bag? But I felt better (yet colder) once I got my head out of the bag. Then I headed back to sleep… quite comfy, but slightly cold.