winter

Week 28: Scandinavian Adventure. What to Pack for a Winter Vacation or a Ski Resort?

Winter Vacation Packing List 2017

Going to Sweden, Denmark, Norway and exploring the Arctic Circle in winter was quite a bold decision, and I am sure I wouldn't be able to enjoy myself if I didn't pack wisely. I still had a couple of days, where even though I was bundled up and had layers of clothes on me, I was shivering and freezing. I learnt a lot of what works and keeps me warm, and what I should never bother taking with me on a vacation with extremely cold weather conditions.

I have created this little What To Take To A Very Cold Destination list for you, and hope it will be helpful. I wish I read something like this before we flew to Scandinavia!

 

 

1. UNIQLO HEATTECH

I think I spent two hours trying to find heattech pants and tees in my size in the UNIQLO store. XS was simply sold out everywhere, and S was way too big on me. At the end I managed to find two XS tees, and had to buy a sample heattech leggings they give you to try in the fitting room! Yes, they were that good!

There are three types of Heattech: Normal, Extra Warm and Ultra Warm. I have tried Extra Warm, but nothing compares to soft, super warm Ultra Warm heattech. I have been wearing my heattech tees almost all my trip in January, and they were warmer and more comfortable to wear than any layered sweaters. 

They are super cheap, so if you find Ultra Warm heattech in your size, grab it before it's gone. I even wore my heattech set in the Ice Hotel (read our review here!) to sleep on bed made of ice in sub-zero, and felt almost (I said almost) cozy and warm :)

My impression is that UNIQLO runs large, so take a size smaller if, you like me, like your clothes a little bit snug.

 

2. Protect your hair

Usually people never forget to protect their hair from the sun, and wear cute straw hats or snapbacks and spray their locks with an SPF hair protecter. But not a lot of people think of that icy weather can damage their hair!

After our first night on the Arctic Circle, my hair, that was getting wet from snow, and then getting frozen right after, was a total mess. It was hard to touch, and afterwards I could feel how easily my hair started to break. 

The moment we flew to Norway, I purchased a bottle of an argan oil for my hair, and always wore my hat when outside.

3. Don't get cold feet

Please don't pack suede boots like I did. It was a stupid decision! I wore them only once for a New Years celebration to a restaurant, but most of the time I was wearing my snow boots and warm booties. I also wore warm Oroblu tights, and wool socks to keep my feet "safe".

4. Moisturise

Your skin will get dry, so buy a little body lotion or a hand cream to carry around all day.

5. Sweater Dresses

On our vacations with my hubby, I love wearing gowns, and sexy dresses, however I had a very limited choice in Scandinavia due to severe weather! I did have a few sweater dress, but I think next time I will try to find more warm dresses for the evenings in "Winter Wonderland"

6. Pockets

When it's so cold outside, but you still want to take a beautiful photograph of some sightseeing, you need to have a coat with big pockets! 

What I did is that I had my phone in one of the pockets, and when I wanted to take a photo, I would take off my gloves, quickly shove them in another pocket, take a shot, and quickly put away my phone again, and wear gloves. Fast and easy! When it is so freezing, that your fingers start hurting and getting icy blue after only 30 seconds of being bare, you will appreciate my pocket tip. :)

7. Few of my favourite things...

And here are some other things you would love to take with you on a Winter Vacation!


Week 28: Scandinavian Adventure. Ice Hotel in Kiruna review.

North by North North - The Ice Hotel

by Benjamin Pillmore (my hubby!)

pinterest-kiruna-swedish-lapland.jpg

When most people think of the Arctic Circle, they imagine a cold, white wasteland devoid of even the smallest signs of life.

Good news!

The frozen north has a plethora of life (human and otherwise) and is quite manageable if you have a sense for adventure. Ulia and I decided to make the trek up to Kiruna, Sweden which is about 90 miles north of the Arctic Circle and Sweden’s northernmost city. There, resides the original Ice Hotel (Jukkasjärvi): a resort situated on the frozen banks of the Torne River that boasts the world’s first and most famous hotel made of ice.

The hotel is divided into three types of rooms, grouped into three separate structures. The first is the warm, which is, well, warm, as in not made of ice. The second is the newly-opened (November 2016) 365 building which houses a series of rooms that are maintained year-round at -5ºC. The third, and most renowned, is the original Ice Hotel; a building comprised of massive blocks of ice harvested straight from the Torne River but a hundred meters away.

Now, for those of you who are wondering why anyone would go that far north to stay in what essentially amounts to an oversized igloo, let me enlighten ye with the top five coolest things you can do at The Ice Hotel.

 

1. Airport Transfers

At this point, you have read the heading and are probably wondering what lavish or outlandish vehicle could possibly pick you up from the airport in Kiruna and drop you off at the Ice Hotel. A hummer? A snowmobile? Some Swedish cross-country skiers? Alas, no. But you can have a team of adorable huskies come pick you and three friends up for a dogsled transfer to the hotel!

The dogsled airport transfer is not cheap, but it is an experience unto itself and should definitely be considered if you want a very original method of getting from A to B or have a thing for dogs, sleds, snow and adventure.

 

2. The Ice Bar

For those of you who drink, you are in luck. The Ice Hotel crafts an awesome bar made of sheer ice every year and serves all of its mixed drinks in glasses made of ice, cut straight from the Torne River. For the hypochondriacs (I’ll save you the google: people who are scared of germs) in the crowd, the ice has been tested and verified bacterium-free before it is cut into the glasses you drink out of. The bar itself has a mascot named Mr. Fuzzy who happens to be the portrait of a lion that overseas the goings on in the bar area. There is comfy seating adorned with animal hides (probably reindeer, I did not get a proper look) and plenty of space and music for both personality types.

Pro-tip:

Ask for the off-menu drinks and make sure you keep your glass so you can break it later (for fun of course!)

3. Lingonberry Juice

Yeah, yeah: "oh this sounds so boring! ’Tis but juice!". Well, guess what? The idiom: 'When in Rome, do as the Romans do', is very applicable here. Backstory: in Sweden, there is a concept known as "allemansrätten" or 'Everyman’s Right" which essentially grants anyone the freedom to roam the land, sail the water, camp, and forage for food, pretty much anywhere in Sweden (this custom exists in many nordic countries). This centuries’s old edict is still just as strong today and as Lingonberries grow quite commonly all over Sweden, consuming them in various forms is a part of life. The Ice Hotel is no exception and makes it a habit of providing hot Lingonberry juice at opportune moments throughout your stay; from your first arrival to your morning wake up call, Lingonberries will be in your face and I recommend you be Roman.

A Song of Ice and Fire? 

A Song of Ice and Fire? 

4. The Ice Hotel Art Suites

Every year, ice artists and sculptors (from the cold parts of the world), descend on the Ice Hotel to showcase their woks in the form of exquisitely detailed suites made entirely of ice and snow. Each room has its own theme, ranging from the instantly recognizable 'Casablanca' with its Moroccan geometric embellishments, to the more subtle (and frankly unsettling) 'Faces' room which contains a 3m tall face staring at your bed while another ten faces gaze down at you from the ceiling, judging your dreams and snickering at your snores. The Ice Hotel commissions thirty five unique suites every season and offers one of the few places in the world where you can essentially sleep inside a sculpture.

 

5. The Northern Lights

The Sámi people have inhabited the northern portion of Scandinavia for a millennia and developed their own belief system, much like any other people, around their environment (think :sun gods, weather gods, ocean gods, etc). In this case, the Sámi people believe that the Northern Lights are the sparks flung from the tail of a fox as it bolts across the sky and represent the souls of fallen relatives. 

At this point you may be scratching your head over how we just went from a solar particle phenomenon to foxes, but just bear with me and I will connect the dots! The Sámi people stem from the northernmost portions of Scandinavia which, as some of you geography buffs are aware of, contains a little country called Finland. Now here’s the line between the dots: The Finnish word for 'Northern Lights' is 'Revontulet’ which literally translates as 'fire fox'. Voila! Pretty cool, right? Anyway, this is the main event at the Ice Hotel, this is the once-in-a-lifetime experience you drag your loved ones with you to see. Our guide advised us that it needs to be cold, clear and dark to experience the revontulet at its finest, so bundle up, be patient and keep your eyes on the sky.

Breathtaking Northern Lights in Swedish Lapland!

Side bar:

The Northern Lights experience at the Ice Hotel comprises three arctic adventures rolled into one. First off, you take a snowmobile on a 2.5 hour journey from the hotel to a secluded wilderness camp with Finnish style cottages. Secondly, your guide will prepare dinner for you and talk about the history and culture of the area. Last but not least: The Revontulet will hopefully make an appearance (I still have a lawsuit pending with the Swedes over the clouds that ruined our chances but I doubt I will hear back from them).

 

Until next time - BAP

Ice Hotel Kiruna review

Week 26: CHRISTMAS SPECIAL. Winter Wonderland in Laduree.

Christmas Tree at Laduree Soho in New York City. Blogger Ulia Ali

Laduree in Soho, NYC has some of the coziest Christmas decorations in the city. I love going there wearing a warm sweater to drink Marie Antoinette tea and to read a book (I just started The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton).

Today's look is one of my favourite of the season, and I am so excited to share it with you. I am wearing a super warm, grey sweater from Shein that looks perfect with my arctic blue, fox fur vest bought in Baku, Azerbaijan in Снежная Королева. I also can't stop wearing white jeans as they make every outfit look so fresh. The cherry on top of my marshmallow babe look (that's what Ben calls it!) is my grey Louis Vuitton bag.

Blogger Ulia Ali from Azerbaijan wearing grey fur vest in Soho, NYC. Серая маховая жилетка Снежная Королева.
Ulia Ali portrait.
Street style New York, winter 2017. Winter cozy fur vest.
Ulia Ali wearing fur vest and Louis Vuitton bag.

 

SHOP THE LOOK:

Fur Vest - similar here | Grey Sweater - Shein | Boots - Hush Puppies  | Jeans - Topshop | Bag - Louis Vuitton 


Week 26: CHRISTMAS SPECIAL. Ulia's Gift Guide 2016

Christmas Gift Guide and Valentine's day gift ideas for her and him 2017. Blogger's shopping guide.

Christmas is a time full of love, joy and happiness. It is the time for listening Baby, It’s Cold Outside and Let it Snow on repeat, and watching It's a Wonderful Life for the 100th time while wrapped in a very warm blanket, cuddling with your loved one. Christmas is the time when miracles happen and prayers are answered.

And it is also the time to give and share. While I strongly suggest you to do something meaningful for the people around you, a little Christmas Gift Guide with my favourite gifts for everyone on your list will help make your holiday shopping easier. ;)

P.S. The guide will be updated daily!

***

Мой Праздничный Гид по Подаркам поможет подобрать самый оригинальный и красивый подарок для каждого дорогого тебе человека! Пожалуйста поделитесь ссылкой на этот пост с друзьями. 

Этот пост будет обновляться каждый день!

1. For Her/ Для Нее

2. For Him/ Для Него

 

3. Tech Lover Gifts/ Для Любителя Техники

4. For Kids/ Для Детей

5. Christmas Madness / Праздничное Сумасшествие!