After a relaxed breakfast (we seemed to be almost the only ones in the hotel), we caught a local bus 15 minutes out of town to Santa's village. Located on the highway across from a shell truck stop, this small 'outpost' is where santa goes every day to meet friends who want to visit him, and to check out his mail. He lives somewhere north on the Fells, but apparently the actual location is a bit of a secret....
Heading into the front lodge, it contains an information centre, about 10 gift shops (including one which makes famous Finnish hunting knives, just what you would expect in a village set up for kiddies....)3 cafes and some christmasy decorations.
After 'cruising' the shops and having a Santa-priced cup of coffee, we went across to see the great man himself.
No disappointment here! It was fantastic! Out beyond the gift hall (not sure how else to describe it) is Santa's greeting hall. Apparently in high season, 10,000 people per day pass through, and it is a real production line.. One hour in a queue, say "Hi" to Santa, say cheese for your photo, select which photo to buy, exit through the gift shop. However, it appears that we really stuck it well, and arrived about two weeks before the high season, beginning December 1. As such it was us, an Indian guy of about 40, the Aussie family we met on the plane the previous day, and a couple of other families in the whole place.
After the Indian guy had a really serious chat to Santa (and bought his photos), the boys rushed up for their turn (no queue!). We sat with Santa for about 10-15 minutes. He was a really gentle old soul who spoke perfect English with a slight Finnish accent. The boys were wrapped, staring at the real Santa. They hardly said a word - they were spellbound! They settled in and soon Santa found out all about Australia, Berlin, the types of Aeroplanes we had flown on, and what they wanted for Christmas. Santa also had a nice long chat with the boys about the Reindeer, and what they were up to, (currently his reindeer are out in the wild looking for frozen mushrooms to eat, and berries). All very relaxed. Then photos (previous post)and exit through the gift shop.
Even though it was only about 12:15pm on Friday, the trip had paid for itself. We all were really excited by meeting Santa and the reaction of the boys was brilliant. They were the perfect age for it, and it was really worth doing!