Today is Finley'a 17th birthday!! I am so excited that we are finally making her 16th birthday trip AND that she can spend this birthday on said trip. We are so proud of this girl.
We flew back to Finland late last night and had an incredibly early morning (thanks to a significant flight change we had no control over) to northern Finland. We left Helsinki today for the Lapland area of the country - crossed back into the Arcitc Circle for the last part of our vacation.
We landed in the town of Rovaniemi. It is decent weather here today - in the 70s during the day, but it drops into the 40s and 50s at night here in the summer. They are also experiencing the midnight sun like Svalbard is. I would say it dims a bit more than Svalbard does, but not much. The sun never touches the horizon - no sunset.
Anyway - we got to Rovaniemi at 8:30am, and got our rental car sorted and headed for Santa's Village. This is the home of Santa Clause, and they have built a village around this. I guess in the winter it is a madhouse, so I was honestly glad we were here to check it out in the summer. You can see Santa - he is here at the village for visits every day of the year. It is a cute little place, but not as exciting as we were hoping. Most of the activities on the grounds you have to pay for - and pay a lot for per person, so we didn't go many extras.
I had booked ahead of time a walk with Reindeer, though. This was on Finley's wish list and was available at Santa's village. We got two reindeer and along with a guide were able to take them on a 30 minute nature walk. The kids really liked that. The Reindeer are shedding since it is summer, but their antlers were huge! They are quite calm and quite sweet. We even got to meet some babies.
We learned that all the reindeer in Finland are owned by Reindeer farms - none are wild. There are about 200,000 reindeer in the county and that number is controled by the government because the numbers would just decimate the forest otherwise. Twice a year the reindeer owners must gather their reindeer (which must be quite the task because they can roam the countryside) to be chosen to either be kept or killed to keep the numbers in check. Reindeer who are killed - their meat and hides, etc are all used - there is no waste.
After the Reindeer walk we got to sit by a fire and drink some blueberry juice (famous around here) and relax before heading out. We were quite tired, and found out we could check into our cabin early so we did that.