Dear Diva Readers,
top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 60px; line-height: 50px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>Baby, it’s cold outside! But these winter temperatures are nothing compared to -33 degrees in the Arctic Circle, which is where I spent my Christmas holiday. Rather than running to sun for a beach holiday like I did last year in Thailand, this year I decided to embrace winter! Let it snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow! And snow it did. In fact, all the way from my home in Berlin to Sweden where I stayed at the world famous ICEHOTEL. Days were filled with Bailey’s spiked-hot chocolate, dog sledding, reindeer sledding and, in general, just trying to stay warm. You’ll note my Arctic wardrobe differed greatly from my diva-attire… I was decked out in sub-thermal snowsuit morning, noon and night! Nights were spent sleeping on ice beds… covered with reindeer fur!!!
The ICEHOTEL is the largest hotel built completely of snow and ice in the world. Shockingly there are actually a handful of tos/worlds-10-coolest-ice-hotels” target=”_blank”>“ice hotels” around the world. Located about 200 km north of the Arctic circle it calls the small northern Swedish village of Jukkasjärvi home. At about 18,000 square feet, this gigantic igloo is constructed completely out of ice from the Torne River. And when I say everything is made of ice, I mean EVERYTHING! Even our bed was made of ice!!! Each year between March and April 5,000 tons of ice are harvested and kept in cool storage throughout the warmer months until November when about 100 people, including many artists who are expert ice sculptors, use it to build the structure of the hotel. That’s right—the hotel is rebuilt every single year – it melts by July, running back into the river from whence it came, and then the next November they start construction again. And for my designer/architect readers…. EACH YEAR they have to get approved again for BUILDING CODES!!! Can you imagine the administration!?! The hotel is then open from December to April until it begins to literally melt away and return to the Torne River.
The “cool” thing (no pun intended) about the fact it’s rebuilt every year means each year the hotel chooses designers (who do not have to know about ice – just have to create a theme) to design new theme rooms. The hotel is always looking for applicants so if you’re a designer seeking to expand your brand and visibility this is an incredible opportunity to shine!! The luxury art suites are where you want to stay! My room? “Abject Beauty”. Although the hotel varies by year, there are typically around 65 rooms which are divided into deluxe suites, art suites, ice rooms, snow rooms, and group rooms.
While the hotel itself is quite the attraction, it isn’t the only thing worth seeing or experiencing in this region of the world. While there we were able to observe the Northern Lights which is an amazing experience in itself – and daylight was only about 4 hours a day. Reindeers dotted the sides of the road so driving was an obstacle at times! And reindeer rugs were available for sale EVERYWHERE!
All in all, it was a trip of a lifetime. I can’t say it’s an experience I’d like to repeat… however, I would definitely say it’s something you have to do at least once in your life. Add this one to your bucket list.
The Antiques Diva ®
Our Dutch friends Ed and Britta have one of the most gorgeously decorated houses in the whole of Holland. If I were to post a picture to give a visual definition of the word “Gezillig”, it would be their dining room with the large table built by Edwin’s father nestled in front of the wall of windows overlooking their sculpted back garden. Across the room sit some wonderful , Flamant-styled chairs pulled close to the roaring fireplace – draped over the back of the chairs are reindeer pelts perfect for snuggling into on a cold Dutch day.
to 10px; WIDTH: 320px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 214px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/SdR4smFuvLI/AAAAAAAAC20/IVr7CE5qLjY/s320/IMG_2558.JPG” border=”0″ />I had fallen for these pelts and spent half the time at their house petting them idly while chatting with a glass of red wine in hand. Knowing that Ed & Britta’s parents had picked these skins up in Finland while there on holiday, WG set out for his 3 day business trip with plans of sourcing me my own reindeer rug.
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“Reindeer are semi-wild, are not extinct and are killed for their meat. The pelt is a by-product.”]
Several days later he hopped on a plane and returned home to Holland. He carried the reindeer pelt onto the plane and as he was climbing into his seat, the man next to him asked, “What do you have there?” to which WG proudly proclaimed – “A Valentines gift for my wife!” showing him the pelt. Over the course of the flight WG, who is reputed to be downright surly when strangers talk to him on planes, chatted with the stranger about life, love and other mysteries. When the flight landed at Schiphol and WG was gathering his briefcase and pelt from the overhead bin, the stranger tapped WG on the shoulder, dug deep into his coat pocket and pulled out a few bite-size chocolate bars. Putting them in WG’s palm, he nodded with wisdom, “Just in case the pelt doesn’t go over so well… and you need a back-up plan!”
to 10px; WIDTH: 177px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 320px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/SdR4sVp_2kI/AAAAAAAAC2k/ETD_oi0olpM/s320/070.JPG” border=”0″ />The stranger need not have worried!! I loved my reindeer pelt but actually never found a place to display it as nicely as Ed and Britta displayed theirs. In Holland it lay in front of a small settee in our bedroom – and while we enjoyed the plush feel of fur between our toes when crawling from bed in the morning, it wasn’t an ideal spot for displaying the V-day treasure.
One of the things I love about moving is the opportunity to redecorate my house time and time again – seeing my favorite items displayed in new ways with each new house. As often happens, what doesn’t work well in one house works better in another and with my reindeer pelt, this is the case. Perhaps because of the freezing cold and damp German winters or maybe it’s the traditional German coal burning stove, but finally, years after receiving it as a present, the Reindeer Skin has found a perfect home chez moi in Berrrrrrrrrrrrlin!
Until next time, stay warm & dry!
May these “April Showers Bring May Flowers!”
The Antiques Diva™