Twice as Nice with Ice?

 

photo courtesy of www.localguide.is

photo courtesy of www.localguide.is

Ice, so much more than just frozen H20. To some, it’s a beverage chiller and to others it’s a slippery driving hazard. To an artist? Ice is a medium. It’s a creative outlet, which is limited only to imagination and rising air temperatures. In northern European countries, a hole cut into the surface of an ice-capped lake offers the ideal place to cool off after a sweltering sauna session. Nature also provides some absolutely breathtaking glacial formations. If winter is your favorite season, one of the following five frigid adventures in Europe may be for you.

Flamingo Blush.  Photo courtesy of Marjolein Vonk & Marinus Vroom.

Flamingo Blush. Photo courtesy of Marjolein Vonk & Marinus Vroom.

ICEHOTEL in Sweden

This is the original ice hotel, and each November, it is recreated in the village of Jukkasjärvi, Sweden. The first crystalline accommodation was constructed in 1990. Guests may begin checking in during early December, and rooms are available until April, when the spring thaw melts the ICEHOTEL away. From the chapel to the reindeer skin-topped beds, everything is constructed from ice blocks that have been cut from the Torne River. Colorful LED lighting sets the translucent establishment aglow at night. The hotel is a spectacular work of art in and of itself.

photo courtesy of narnua at flickr creative commons

photo courtesy of narnua at flickr creative commons

Winter Swimming in Finland

Winter swimming is a common activity in many northern European countries. Finland boasts well over 180 thousand lakes; so, there is an abundance of locations where you can partake in one of the country’s favorite pastimes. The icy cold dip is normally coupled with another popular Finnish tradition, saunas. After spending some time building up a sweat in the sauna, a brisk swim in cold, biting water is said to leave the body feeling invigorated. It is believed by many that winter swimming offers health benefits such as reduced arthritis symptoms, and it is widely regarded as an excellent form of stress relief.

Video shows the ICEBAR being rebuilt, which is an annual event.

ICEBAR in London

A product of the ICEHOTEL, the ICEBAR in London is open year-round. It is built with ice blocks from Torne River in Sweden, the same source the hotel uses. The ICEBAR conveniently provides each of their guests with a pair of gloves, so that your fingers stay nice and warm while you sip a cocktail from a glass made of ice. Just be sure to make a reservation, as this chill scene fills up quickly.

Ice Music Festival in Norway

Since 2006, the Norwegian town of Geilo celebrates the first full moon of the New Year with the Ice Music Festival. As if the stage and sculptures that have all been masterfully created out of snow and ice aren’t impressive enough, functional musical instruments are carved out of blocks of ice, too. Bundle up and catch a whimsical concert during the three day event.

photo courtesy of www.localguide.is

photo courtesy of www.localguide.is

Blue Ice Caves in Iceland

Situated just inland of Iceland’s southeastern coastline is Vatnajökull National Park. Rivers cut through the rugged mountainous terrain, active volcanoes and glacial ice. Under the glacier, mesmorizing blue ice caves form from streams. During the winter months it is safer to visit these glistening caverns and to possibly experience the rare, deep blue illumination. This only occurs when indirect sunlight filters through the top of a cave that has been washed free of snow and refracts within crystal clear ice that is practically free of trapped air bubbles.

Where will your winter travels take you this year? Whether it’s skiing in the Swiss Alps or taking a reindeer sleigh ride through Finnish Lapland, a stay at a luxury hotel in Switzerland, Finland or any other European destination is sure to enhance your trip.

 

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