Visited December 2013
The day we would travel further north had finally arrived, as we woke up to mists on our windows. It had started snowing in Helsinki!
Quickly savouring our last breakfast, we went back up to get our coats and headed straight to the port to experience our first snow fall. I really enjoyed the snow falling all onto me. So much for being snow-deprived!
And even though the snow fall started to get heavier, it did not stop us from exploring all the visited nearby places again, as the places looked different with snow covered roofs and white fluffy pavements.
But alas, it was time to head on to the airport for our flight to Rovaniemi. While we had the option of taking an overnight train to the capital of Finnish Lapland, we decided instead to save time, albeit spending more money, on a flight ticket.
Checking in to the airport, it was a 1 hour 20 minute flight, as we saw for the first time how airplanes spray green liquid onto their wings to prevent formation of ice; and as we landed how the scene changed from that of a city to ice-frosted evergreen trees. We have arrived.
The disembarkation from the airplane though, was a nightmare. As the airport was extremely small, upon alighting, we were surprised to see that everyone was crowding near the entrance, with very little space left to move. And because we had to look for the airport bus to our hotel, the crazy crowds and long snaking queues was extremely confusing. Seeking help from the staff that were standing around did not help either, as they were staff that belonged to respective tour companies.
It was only when huge coach buses arrive that things seemed to get a little better. With the crowd moving off, I finally caught sight of the Rovaniemi Airport Bus, and was extremely lucky to be the last two to board the bus.
Our hotel for the night was Santa Class Hotel. Having decided beforehand that we would splurge a little for this trip, we booked the room that had the private sauna.
Exploring the town of Rovaniemi was a surprise to me, as I did not expect to see so many malls. I guess they had commercialized the area, as it was the gateway to Santa Claus Village, which was located 8km from the town.
Our meal for the day was the MacDonald’s, known earlier to be the most northern branch in the world. The title has now gone to the branch in Murmansk, Russia.
Our activity for the night was a northern light tour by bus and foot. We were picked-up at our hotel and driven to the centre for a change of clothes and boots. Thereafter, it was a drive out into the wilderness and climb up onto a hill to catch the northern lights. I have to say that the trek up the snow hill was one of the hardest things I have ever experienced. But despite the hard work, the sky that day was just too cloudy to spot any auroras. And after waiting for what felt like an hour, it was time to leave, but not before heading back to the teepee for some barbeque and drinks.
So our first aurora hunting was a flop, as we hoped for better weather in the upcoming days.