Sunday, July 9, 2023

Finland days 7-8

 These last two days were all about travel back home - not much to report.  On the 8th day we left Saariselka mid morning and headed out to do a little souvenier shopping on our way back to Rovaniemi where we would be catching our plane.  It is a beautiful drive - we passed a lot of reindeer, of course, and many lakes and quaint little shops and cafes.  We stopped for food, snacks, and shopping several times just to make a leisurely trip back to Rovaniemi.

Our flight out on day 8 would take us back to Helsinki.  We got to the airport and found that our flight was the only leaving the entire day!  It is the tiniest airport, and we were quite early in arriving for our flight and returning our rental car.  Nothing was open when we got there, so we just hung out until they opened security.  Unbelievably (but not really when traveling with Mat), or flight was slightly delayed due to weather in Helsinki.

It was a quick flight back to Helsinki and we settled into the Helsinki airport hotel for the night. This made getting up on our last morning in Finland very easy.  Our flight home was around 2pm, so we got up late, had breakfast and headed to the airport for our flight home.  It was a long day of traveling, but by 8:30pm Boston time, we were on the ground and home by 9:30pm.  We had a short layover in London and two smooth plane rides.

It was a wonderful trip.  Finley picked out everything we did and we all had a wonderful time.  We were happy to be able to make this 16th birthday wish trip happen for her and excited to see yet another 2 countries on our bucket list.

One of the many lakes we passed on our trip

Proof that even when you are the only plane flying, Mat can make it delayed

This was the wildest flight.  It was a propeller plane (my least favorite) and all of the checked baggage went into this really funny compartment between the cockpit and the passengers.  Then our carry on bags had to go UNDER our feet - even as big as they were.  Only tiny bags could go over our heads.  It was wild.

Just a picture for fun.  No matter where we went in Finland - we saw this hose attachement next to toilets.  It was in all of our hotels, but even in every public restroom, each stall in the airport, even the tiny water closets on roadside stands.  It is for rinsing your delicate bits after you use the bathroom.  Crazy

Friday, July 7, 2023

Finland day 6

 Today we went even FURTHER north, but just for the day.  We drove 1 hour north to the Sami museum.  The Sami people are located in the north of Norway, Finland, and Norway - the least number of then are still in Finland (About 10,000.).  They are the only recognized aboriginal group in Europe.  We first learned about them in a favorite Christmas movie (Klaus).  WE thought they were fictional in that movie until we started planning this vacation.  We were excited to see the museum and learn more about the people.  There is a large indoor museum as well as an outdoor museum where they have moved a lot of the orginal housing.  They are reindeer herders, but most now are part of modern society in this area of these countries.

In the afternoon we took a cruise in a catamaran around Lake Inari.  There is 3300 islands in this part of Finland, and this relaxing cruise gives you a chance to take in the landscape from the water.  We saw the isaldn where the Sami people used to do sacrifices and an island where they bury people (because on land animals will dig up the bodies because you cannot bury anyone deep due to the cold).  The cruise was fine.  We didn't love it.  The kids got quickly bored, and we weren't far behind.  IT was definitely too long for what you saw, but ah well.

In the evening we drove back to Saariselka and had dinner at a local restaurant with beautiful views.  We walked to the restaurant and passed an incredible amount of reindeer.  We did have reindeer for dinner (sorry fellas) and a cloudberry dessert.  This is our last full day of activities and soon it will be time to go home.

The Sami museum

This carpets all the forest floor.  Ligonberries and blueberries are everywhere

Views from Lake Inari

This is the island where the Sami people did their sacrifices

Cemetery island

Where the Sami people meet and their council building

From our walk in the evening - so many reindeer.  They did not care about us at all

View from the restaurant

Russia is 25 miles this way

My dinner was reindeer steak - the sauce was incredible

My Cloudberry dessert

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Finland Day 5

 This morning we got up and did a 3 1/2 hour canoe trip (with a guide) on the Kemijoki river.  Finley had white water rafting on her list, but I could not find that trip, so this was the cloest I could get.  It was a beautiful ride.  It was cool, and a bit windy so that helped keep the moquitoes away.  There were two of us per canoe, and our guide was wonderful.  We rode and then half way we stopped for a little picnic ot Cinnamon rolls and warm blueberry tea (blueberry again!).  

Our guide used the time to tell us about the "Every man's right" to the land that Finland has.  All land is for all people.  Anything that grows belongs to the people.  The forest are filled with blueberries and ligonberries.  They do limit people to the amount they can pick each year, but that amount is still enormous.

It gets quite cold in the part of Finland in the winters - can get down to -30C.  The rivers are shallow because outside of winter, they don't get much weather.  A little rain, but not much.  So they freeze over easily.  By deep winter he said the ice is 27 inches thick - large trucks can drive right over it.

Cloudberries are a delicacy here.  They look like a rasberry except they are orange.  They have to have 6-8 hours of sun a day BUT they cannot stand warm weather, so they grow great in the Arctic.  It takes 7 years for the plant to bear fruit, so they are cherished.  We had them on a few different items - pancakes (which were more like a crepe), and some desserts and they were very yummy.  We are taking a few cloudberry itmes home with us.

We also learned about the reindeer being owned by people and that we have to be very careful when traveling the roads because the deer are everywhere.  If you hit one an investigation has to be done because it belongs to someone.  He was not wrong about them being everywhere.  After our canoe ride we got some lunch at a yummy Korean restaurant and headed 3 hours north to our next destination.  They were all over the roads.  IT is a beautiful drive on what seems to be the only road in Lapland, and we saw beautiful lakes and quaint little stores and reindeer.  

We landed tonight in a beautiful house (it became our families favorite stay once we got inside) in Sarriselka.  We decided to have dinner in tonight and found a sweet restaurant called Anne's Garden not far from where we are staying to grab some food.  We played cards and we all tried the huge Sauna that is in this house, and just relaxed for the first day since we arrived.

We couldn't take our phones out on our canoe trip in case they fell in the water, so these are the only pictures I had.  It was a wonderful trip - so beautiful.

On our drive to Saariselka - so many reindeer

Our house.  IT had 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms and a huge sauna.  It was tucked away in the mountains.  It was quite cold here - we are really far north - I think the high was 60 degrees F.

We saw these everywhere we went in Northern Finland and also in Svalbard.  These are heaters for your car.  They are in all public spaces.

Part of our dinner Mat and I got a cloudberry pancake - here is what they looked like.