Nobody would come to the ice cold Finland when it’s -30 °C except my best friends. They’re fucking bad asses! WELCOME!
As you may have noticed in my last blogpost I spent three months in Finland on a sled dog farm. If you haven’t read the post you can read it here. During my stay in Finland three friends visited me at the beginning of February. (by the way February is one of the coldest months in Finland.) Together we traveled through the country for a week. If you want to know what we have experienced in this week read on.
Rather a wood house than an ice hotel
Let’s start from the very beginning. Our trip started in Taivalkosik more precisely at the farm where I lived. Of course my friends also booked a sled dog tour there. After they enjoyed a little bit of my farm life our journey continued towards the north. The first accommodation was a beautiful blue wooden house in Taivalkoski. The house was in the forest next to a swamp. It was extremely cozy. All of us used the little electric sauna which the wooden house had to offer. The first two days we didn’t do that much. Most of the time we relaxed, listened to music and explored the Finnish nature. After two days we drove on with our rental car. Our first stop was the snow castle in Kemi. The snow castle of Kemi is the largest snow-built castle in the world. It’s used as an ice hotel and is built annually in winter with changing architecture. When we arrived there we were a bit shocked by the expensive entrance fee. We paid twenty euros per person to get in. That’s a lot of money for sightseeing when there isn’t that much to see expect snow and ice. Nevertheless it’s amazing what you can create with snow and ice. When we saw the rooms of the hotel we were glad that we didn’t book a room here. Maybe this may be an adventure for some persons but definitely not for my friends and me. The rooms looked uncomfortable and it was definitely the very opposite of our rented blue wooden house. The rooms had nothing except a bed of ice, pillows and a reindeer fur which was intended as a blanket. It was a bit strange because you could survey all the rooms and in no room were any hotel guests. When we came out of the ice hotel we were a bit disappointed.
A strange village and a boring Santa Claus
Dear Santa Claus, I always thought you were flying with your reindeer in the sky and now I see you here in Rovaniemi sitting bored in a chair. That was my first thought when we arrived at the Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi and I stared at this old man who seemed to be the REAL Santa Claus. The village is famous for exactly this old man.
When I was a child I’ve learned that I have to say a verse to the Santa Claus and afterwards I get a present from him. Unfortunately, that was not the case for the real Santa Claus who supposedly lives here in this village. If you ask the Santa Claus for a photo with him you had to pay 20 euros first! I really would like to show you a picture of the real Santa Claus but that was too expensive for me. Therefore, you didn’t see him in this blogpost but I can reassure you he didn’t look that sexy either. He is, an old man with a white beard in a red robe as you already know him from your childhood.
The Santa Claus Village was generally very artificial. It seemed almost unreal. I think it was the only place in Finland where I saw Asians. In addition to the Santa Claus there were a lot of souvenir shops, restaurants, hotels and small holiday cottages. You could also make a coach trip with reindeer or book a sled dog tour. Anyone who books a reindeer or sled dog tour here turns once in a circle. Santa Claus Village gives you also the opportunity to see real huskies.
We neither did a reindeer nor a sled dog tour and left this somehow strange village again. Overall the Santa Claus Village is sweet and I liked all the red little houses but you feel like in a typical Christmas movie. The whole thing doesn’t have much to do with reality.
“Once upon a time, the Reindeer took a running leap and jumped over the Northern Lights.But he jumped too low, and the long fur of his beautiful flowing tail got singed by the rainbow fires of the aurora.To this day the reindeer has no tail to speak of. But he is too busy pulling the Important Sleigh to notice what is lost. And he certainly doesn’t complain.What’s your excuse?”― Vera Nazarian
A car accident, super mario kart and snowmobiles
From Rovaniemi we went on to Ruka. On the way to Ruka we had a car accident. Well, accident is exaggerated. We got stuck in the snow. At first we tried to dig out the car ourselves but unfortunately without success. We finally had to call the breakdown service. After about 30 minutes a man came with a big red car and helped us or rather the car. When our car was fully back on the road again we drove on quickly. Fortunately, without further incident. Let’s talk about Ruka for a moment. It is the winter sports center in the north of Finland. Ruka is a good place for skiing, snowboarding and other winter activities. My friends and I had some great plans here. While I’ve been riding a snowmobile a thousand of times, my friends have never sat on one. So we all decided to do a snowmobile ride in Ruka. There is one place where you can rent a snowmobile for just 60 euros per hour. That’s not that much money and believe me it’s really worth it. I think the snowmobile trip was the best thing that we’ve done here in Finland. It’s so much fun and such a great experience. Nevertheless it’s not that easy to keep control of this vehicle. We almost drove into a tree a couple of times. So be careful when you drive one. There were many other activities that you could do in Ruka. My friends and I decided to do Ice Karting too. You drive on an outdoor ice track with studded tyres. It’s an activity where technical skill beats speed. For my friends and me it was like the game Super Mario Kart in real life. What a dream! Everyone who has played it before know what I’m talking about! It’s not that cheap (50 euros for about 45 minutes) but it’s such a unique thing which you must have done once in a lifetime. We also thought about going skiing here but somehow we hoped for more from this ski area. As Swiss we are used to ski on huge mountains. In Ruka were more hills than mountains. I think for some people it can be really cool to try out skiing or snowboarding but for us as true Swiss it was not convincing so we decided against it. Otherwise there was not so much to see in Ruka. Hotels, a few restaurants and pubs. That’s it. I remember I drank in a bar the most expensive mulled wine ever. I paid eight euros for a glass. There was one bar/restaurant in Ruka which was very nice. It had a live band who played country music. There were quite a few people in this bar too. They danced, laughed and ate Finish food there. However, Ruka was our last stop. After we visited Ruka my friends took me back to the farm in Tavailkoski and they flew back to Switzerland while I spent the last month in Finland.
After this trip I wasn’t sure if I would go to Finland again. Don’t get me wrong guys. First of all Finland has a unique nature. Furthermore my time on the husky farm was unforgettable! I was thrilled with my farm life and still am. I would also like to work with huskies again. However, if we talk about that one week holiday trip in Finland, I wouldn’t do it again. The places we visited were nice but they were simply not so special to me. I have done far better and more interesting trips in my life.
But hey, everyone has different ideas and opinions about a place. Just because it didn’t blow me away doesn’t mean that you won’t like it too. 🙂