Mia and I relaxing and enjoying the breathtaking view of The Empty Quarter Desert. The Rule of Thirds: This is one of my favorites when it comes to photographic composition. I love to see photos that are off-centered. I believe my hubby did a great job capturing Mia and I as we enjoyed one of those special serene moments in life we will never forget!
My family and I took the adventure of a lifetime this past weekend when we boarded a plane for a short one and a half hour trip up to Northern Lapland, Finland. We stayed at the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Saariselkä. We decided to stay in one of the log cabins for the first two nights after reading some reviews and did the last night in the glass igloo (no shower, only a sink and toilet), but overall more spacious than we thought it would be. It ended up being one of the most exciting adventures of our lives!
We flew into the very small Ivalo airport and were picked up by a transfer bus to the resort. We were then dropped off right in front of our cabin and given our key. It was very convenient and the staff was very friendly (the owner who claims to be Santa’s brother even gave Mia a stuffed reindeer). They served us and the rest of the small group on our bus dinner at the restaurant even though we didn’t arrive until sometime close to 11:00 p.m. Breakfast and dinner were included, but I would recommend asking for their á la carte menu for more local choices for the dinner.
We were so determined to see an amazing show from the northern lights before we move in less than two months and we not only had one evening with an amazing show, we were completely shocked when we saw them 2 nights in a row (over one hour each night)!! The first evening was too cloudy, so we waited and waited the next evening and finally saw them sometime after 11:00 p.m. on Friday evening. One couple was so excited about seeing them that they got engaged right in front of us!! We gave up around midnight on Saturday evening after standing in the cold for so long, but then saw this amazing sight in the photo above sometime after 1:00 a.m.! We ran outside in the cold again and watched an even better show than the night before!! Everyone around us was so excited and I even had to email 4 different groups of people photos that we took to those who couldn’t take a clear enough shot from their cameras. It was a very exciting weekend for all of us at the resort!!
My family and I really enjoyed our weekend trip to the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort and overall had an amazing experience that we will never forget! For more information on the resort, you can visit:
Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Saariselkä, Finland 99830.
For more information about Aurora Hunting and photography tips (I stumbled upon an article with Andy Keen and found his tips which were a great help to me although I still have lots to learn). I do hope to experience his “The Great Aurora Hunt” in Norway one day… what a dream that would be! Please visit:
For more information on the best times to see Auroras, please visit these two very helpful sites (I checked these often before our trip and almost every 15 minutes during our trip):
Aurora Forecast (Includes the very important Kp tracker while aurora hunting. We only needed a Kp2 to see the auroras since we were so far north).
My next post will include our first experience ever snow skiing and snowboarding as well as our visit to Santa’s Home at Santa’s Resort. We can now mark another Red Pin Adventure off our Travel Bucket List:
Stay in a glass igloo in Lapland (see an amazing aurora borealis show)!
I have three photos to share for this weeks photo challenge. The first one is one of my favorite shots from our trip this past year to Paris. The guy in the background with the black jacket and his eyes closed was so peaceful and was handing out bird seed to people in the street to feed the birds. When we tried to pay him for it, he refused our money and just filled our hands with the seeds. He was one of those people who seemed so peaceful and fulfilled in life. As soon as I got over the surprise of the birds landing in my hands, I could feel the peacefulness that he must feel while feeding the birds, which I assume is often. I will be forever grateful for this wonderful experience on the streets in Paris!
This second photo is of a couple that I feel was just as peaceful in life and didn’t care what anyone thought in the beautiful streets of Tallinn, Estonia. They were just happy to be relaxing and soaking up the sun!
My last photo from the streets is of the Naked Invisible Man in Tallinn, Estonia. It’s truly amazing what you can find just walking around the streets of a new place you are exploring!
I thought this turned out to be an interesting shot from Gatorland in Florida. I had lived in Florida for 25 years and never made it to this popular attraction until right before we moved to Finland. My family and I had a lot of fun!
Four scary prehistoric looking gators piled on top of each other with this beautiful white crane just taking a nice leisurely stroll in the water right behind them…
2013 is coming to an end and this is what is coming to my mind, “Oh my, what a year it has been!” For my family and I, it will always be a year that we will never forget. It was filled with excitement, laughter, ups and downs, and even some “what the heck were we thinking” moments! This was the year that our family decided to donate 3/4 of our belongings, remove toxic people and things from our lives, move to Finland with only suitcases, and basically simplify our lives in so many ways. We also spent a lot of time focusing on our travel bucket list, and as we reflect on this past year, we have so much to be grateful for.
A few weeks before we moved to Finland, I received this email on Facebook from one of my high school classmates who I hadn’t seen in many years:
My friend lost her baby girl, Jaedyn, at only 16 months old after a tragic accident. Jaedyn would have been 10 years old this year. Since I can remember, my daughter Mia has always picked up rocks wherever we went. She has probably picked up a thousand by now! I would find them everywhere… at the bottom of my purse, in my pockets, her pockets, and her daddy’s pockets. She even has a very nice collection of them on her window sill in her room in Finland. So, after receiving this email from my friend, I knew this was a perfect job for my family and we started to pick up rocks for Jaedyn on our trips that we went on. Here is a photo of precious Jaedyn which was taken only three weeks before the accident:
Here are photos of the jar we made for her travel rocks and also photos from her gravesite where her mommy joined us to give the rocks to her a few days ago:
I will end 2013 with this photo of my daughter Mia with one of her rocks she has collected and a quote that I love about when a child gives you a rock. I would also love to hear any of my fellow bloggers’ stories about their children and rocks as well as any special things that you do for those who have passed. Thank you all for following along. I wish you a very Happy 2014 and a new year of peace and many exciting adventures!
This is part three of a three-part series of our London, England Adventure. This post will include some of the remaining photos that we took while touring London. I hope that you have enjoyed my posts from England!
Here are a few photos of London Icons:
London Tip #7: Check closing times for all attractions as many close earlier than you might expect. After living in Central Florida for the past 25 years, we have been used to places staying open pretty late for tourists especially in the summer. However, it seems that places in Europe close much earlier. Therefore, you must plan accordingly to make sure that you fit as much in as possible especially if you only have a few days in London.
London has to have some of the most beautifully designed architecture in the world. Many of the buildings have such detail that you cannot help wanting to stop and just look around and enjoy all of it. St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower Bridge really stood out to me and were truly breathtaking. Here are a few more photos from our adventure:
Our next planned adventure in Europe will be our first trip to Paris! It is already time for me to start researching where and what we should explore there. Please let me know if anyone has any tips or suggestions on must sees there!
- London, England: Part Two – Tips and Photos of Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, & the London Eye (redpinadventures.com)
- London, England: Tips and Photos of Buckingham Palace, Hamleys and Madame Tussauds! (redpinadventures.com)
I am finally continuing with my London posts. It has been a very busy time for us as we were moving to a little bigger place the last couple of days. Mia has her own bedroom now, so she was very happy to unpack her toys that have been in storage. She also started her first day of 1st grade today and had a great day which was a big relief for us! I couldn’t sleep last night and was so nervous for her, but it all turned out fine and we are very happy with her new teacher!
This is post number two in a three-part series from our recent adventure in London, England. In this post, I will feature Big Ben, the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey, & the London Eye. All but Westminster Abbey have an amazing view along the Thames River and were a short walk from our hotel.
Continuing from my last post, this is London Tip #5: The Golden Jubilee Bridge that is right next to Big Ben and the one you cross over to get to the London Eye gets unbelievably crowded! However, you can get some of the best photos in this area, so you may want to visit it earlier in the day or right before sunset to avoid a million people in your photos with you!
Big Ben has to be one of the most recognizable structures in the world. It was so impressive to see in person and reminded me of one of my favorite movies, Hook. It is one of those places when you see it for the first time in real life, you just say “Wow, that is amazing!” Here are a few photos of Big Ben & The Palace of Westminster (click on photos for a larger image):
For more information about touring the Houses of Parliament, please visit: Houses of Parliament Please note: Only permanent UK residents are allowed to tour Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben.
Westminster Abbey was my favorite place that we toured while in London. This is certainly worth the price of admission and has many surprises inside! It is not just an old gothic church, but a place filled with rich history (founded in 960) and also has an impressive collection of artwork. It is the coronation church and also the final resting place and memorial site of many significant people. King Edward’s Chair, the throne which is used for coronations is also housed here.
London Tip #6: Do not pass up touring the inside of Westminster Abbey! If you only have one day, I would suggest taking the time to tour this church. Also, do not be intimidated by the line to get it. It moved very quickly for us and was worth the 20-30 minutes we waited in line. I would also recommend the Cellarium Cafe which is perfect for a nice break with afternoon tea and light snacks.
Here are a few photos from Westminster Abbey (please note: photography and filming are not allowed while you are touring the inside of the Abbey):
For more information about touring Westminster Abbey, please visit: Westminster Abbey
The London Eye was within walking distance to where we stayed and was of course one of those things in London that you just have to do! It is located in the South Bank right along the Thames River. We were able to see so much of London from the top and you get to see out for a distance of about 25 miles from the top. The views from the London Eye are absolutely breathtaking and was definitely something that we are glad that we were able to experience. I would love to experience it at night the next time we visit as I am sure it would be very beautiful with all of the city lights on.
Here are a few photos from our experience on the London Eye:
For more information about the London Eye, please visit: London Eye
You can read part 1 of this series at the following link: London Part 1
What an exciting time to arrive in Finland! We were very excited to be able to experience The Tall Ships Races right here in the neighborhood that we just moved to!
Over 100 vessels were here this weekend for the races which began on July 17th and continued until July 20th. The event ended with the Parade of Sails, when the ships go onto the next Tall Ships Races location, the Port of Riga, Latvia. The races will later end in Szczecin, Poland the first week of August, 2013.
We enjoyed viewing all of the beautiful ships on Thursday, July 17th after they were all docked:
The highlight of the event was watching the departure of all of the beautiful ships during the Parade of Sails event on Saturday, July 20th:
We were a little sad to have to say goodbye to all of the ships. What an amazing experience it was to see so many beautiful vessels in one weekend/location:
For more information on this event, please visit:
Mia and I were finally able to see where her daddy has been working since November. We had a great time visiting the office on Friday and meeting some of his co-workers. Many were on their summer holiday, so we will try to visit again after the summer is over. Mia thought that her daddy’s office was a very cool place to work!!
We decided to take our first journey on the train today and made it downtown. We celebrated the 4th of July at the Hard Rock Cafe Helsinki. They were giving 20% off to anyone from the U.S.A. today!
We also went across the street to check out their big department store called Stockmann. It was really nice and we ran into a reindeer!
We arrived safely in Helsinki late Saturday afternoon, and have been busy unpacking and exploring all of the different areas around us. After the first day, we knew we needed to find Mia something to help her get around. We have been doing so much walking, so we found her a cute little scooter to easily keep up with us. She is really getting around great now and having a lot of fun with it!
The time zone difference (7 hours ahead of Orlando) has really been tough on us these first couple of days. It is also daylight out most of the time. The sun set on our first night around 11:00 p.m. and then sunrise was at 3:58 a.m.!!! We have to wear sleep masks just to try to keep some of the light out to sleep (we have blackout shades on some of the windows too). On our second night, we were wide awake from 2 a.m. to around 6 a.m. We went out for a walk/scooter ride at 3 a.m. and made it over to Mia’s school so she could see it. Not one soul was out! I was a little surprised since this is the capital city of Finland! We have been here for almost 4 days now, and I have yet to see a police car or officer and have not heard any sirens from ambulance or police. Seems very strange for a big city. I heard at least two or three a day in Central Florida! It is certainly a nice peaceful change. It is also refreshing to see so many people out with their families, walking their dogs, bike riding, and just simply enjoying this beautiful weather!
Danny was back to work Monday morning and we start to look at new places tomorrow. However, we are really enjoying the simplicity of going from a 4 bedroom home to a cute little studio apartment with a view of the beautiful canal…. Not sure if we really need a little bigger place anymore! We’ll see how tomorrow goes. 🙂
Here we go!!!! We are finally all packed and ready to go! Moving to Finland in less than 20 hours!!!! Our master bedroom turned into packing central this past week. Only moving with suitcases and donated about 3/4 of all of our belongings to various charities and friends in need. Whew…. It feels great to simplify our lives and we are now ready for our adventure in Europe!! We will miss you all!! ♥
The big day is almost here… We will be flying to Finland tomorrow!!! It has been a very busy week getting everything packed, but we are looking forward to starting our new adventure! I am finally posting the photos from our trip back to my homeland. It was an amazing experience and also a very emotional one. It was so nice to see all of our family in Japan after so many years and also to meet many of them who were not born until after we moved away. I had forgotten how beautiful it was… It felt like we were in paradise!!