WELCOME TO FINLAND!
Back in December, JUICE was very gratified to play judge and official magazine to the Finlandia Vodka Cup Malaysia 2008. The first event of its kind here in Malaysia to be hosted by Finland’s premier vodka brand, JUICE was not only able to savour someÂ of the most amazing cocktails created by some of the most exciting behind-the-bar talents of Malaysia, we were also invited, by theÂ generous people of Brown-Forman, to the 11th International Finlandia Vodka Cup. In Lapland! Finland!
Yes, that’s a real big deal. And not just to the Finnish, who take pride in their annual quest to hunt down the world’sÂ best bartender. But to JUICE. Because JUICE is the ONLY member of the Malaysian media invited to this prestigious event. So not to wasteÂ this once in a lifetimeÂ opportunity, we’ve arranged to have daily updates sent to us from within the Arctic Circle (no really!) from our man on the ground/permafrost, Matt Armitage, who is probaby making friends with reindeers as we write.
Travelling with Malaysion champion bartender Abdumubin Ismail from Villa Danieli at the Hotel Imperial Kuala Lumpur, who won the Malaysian leg of the competition, RM2000 in cash andÂ a shiny trophy, it was a long ardous Finnair flight that finally saw the Malaysian pairÂ arrive at their final destination at theÂ swankyÂ Euro jet-set magnet, Levi SpiritÂ in Levi, Lapland. Yes, Lapland – where Santa is from!Â Now ensconced in their respective luxury villas where it’s warm and toasty inside but belowÂ up to -40CÂ outside, Matt sent us these snaps.
TheÂ opening pix is of the very design-savvy Rovaniemi airport.Â Santa Claus Village and Santapark are locatedÂ a mere 3 kilometres away!
More from the desolate airport – HALLO!!… Hallo!… hallo….
Onboard the bus for the 2 1/2 hour bus ride to Levi to catch the last of the dying rays. They only get 9 hours worth of daylight (per day) in Finland in February.Â Levi is one of Finland’s largest ski resorts, where you get around by cable car, ski lift, skimobile or husky-drawn sleigh.No popping out to 7-ElevenÂ for a quickieÂ then….
Inside the Finlandia Experience Lounge. Here your nuts are served as cold as your vodka. And we don’t mean the nuts that grow on trees.
The Levi Cable Car.
Okay. We know it ain’t much right now, butÂ Finland isÂ 6 hours behind us and Matt is still a little groggy from the jetlag, nut-numbing temperaturesÂ and last night’s reindeer stew. More to come tomorrow (pix and story, not stew). Just so you know what you’re in for, the itinerrary includes naked saunas, reindeer games, and a whole lotta Finlandia vodka appreciation to come. Stay tuned!