We had a fixed schedule for the first part of our holiday: Do the driving in the morning, until noontime, and then stop for a soft off-highway and exploration trip, allowing us to have a picnic “in the wild,” and in the afternoon, some more driving on the smaller roads and tracks and some city exploration. Our goal was to get to the Arctic Circle, but we also wanted to enjoy the Finnish nature and cities in this “Land of a Thousand Lakes.” Traveling alone, however, can be limiting in the possibilities of really going off-highway for more advanced crawling and wheeling, something we had wanted to do.
During this trip, Finland turned out to be a most amazing and pleasant holiday destination. People are friendly and very interested to hear and tell stories. We often stopped and stayed for longer than intended in order to chat with local people. We enjoyed the local delicacies, including berries, reindeer, special cheeses, and, of course, the world-famous Finnish Kossu, or Koskenkorva, the most common clear spirit drink in Finland. If you ever get the opportunity, be sure to try the Salmiakki (salty licorice) or “Fisherman’s Friend” versions, which offer insight into special Finnish tastes.
Rovaniemi, capital of Lapland
In Kemi, the weather changed and conditions got worse, or at least colder. It snowed with constant temperatures below zero degrees. The road to Rovaniemi is deserted and follows the flow of the Kemi River, banking and bending around a seemingly unlimited number of small lakes. One of the lakes is dammed to produce electricity, and provides a great stopping place for a
We had a very busy time during this part of the trip. In fact, as we passed through through the Lappi regions, one of us was
driving and the other not only navigated with the GPS, but also constantly watched out for reindeer and elk crossing the roads. Each year, a number of people die in fatal accidents with elk, crashing their car against a 500kg. roadcrossing animal that, standing high on its feet, has the nasty reaction of crashing through your windshield with its antlers.
The city of Rovaniemi was cozy and warm upon arrival. We booked our stay in a hotel; not a real luxury with the kids and the cold. Every morning and evening, a vast amount of work needed to be done in dressing and undressing them. The youngest one, 1-½ years old, always ended up falling on the ground once he was fully dressed and packed, just like a little Michelin-man. The comfort of the hotel and friendliness of the staff was amazing!