Who has not dreamed of spending winter holidays in a cottage surrounded by nature surrounded by a thick layer of snow? This year, we decided to go from dream to reality. Today I wanted to tell you the few days I spent this winter in Luosto in Finland in the heart of the world famous (or not) Pyha-Luosto National Park. The avowed objective of the escapade is to observe aurora borealis, frozen landscapes and stay in a small chalet with sauna.
I already imagined myself crying while looking at the Northern Lights dancing in the sky and the camera standing on the tripod to help to capture them. I wanted to have a great trip to one of the southernmost Arctic plains in Scandinavia. I've been thinking about it for years, but it's very expensive to go and it must be said that we still enjoyed a lot between the Cinque Terre, Florence, London, Morocco, Peru, the Alsace and everything we did in the mountains.
Finally it was decided. Too bad for Seychelles or Mauritius, we go for adventure beyond the Arctic Circle! Lapland is a region that has always made me dream, snow, huskies, reindeer and even Santa Claus! Yes, he lives in Rovaniemi with his elves and Mother Christmas!
Lapland is not a country in its true sense. It is rather a territory straddling Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, originally populated by the Sami. I still do not know if the Lappish beavers are hermaphrodites. I don't even know if there are actually beavers in Lapland. We will stop the geography course now, since this is not the purpose of this article.
After choosing to travel to Finland, we did some research to prepare the trip. Once the logistical aspects (dates, flights, accommodation) were settled, the first thing to do was to equip ourselves. To withstand the temperatures beyond the Arctic Circle, we buy merino wool underwear and the waterproof jacket!
Day 1 - Helsinki
We make a stop in Helsinki, then take a flight of about an hour to land in Rovaniemi! We arrive at 16:00 in the land of Santa Claus in the dark. The first thing about arriving at the airport is that we do not regret being well equipped. And then when we see the condition of the tracks, we silently thank the pilot for managing a landing so quietly.
After taking the suitcases, upon leaving the airport we are immersed in a magical atmosphere with the snow on the trees. We arrive in our hotel without worries. The place is very pretty, and quiet. The streets are all illuminated and we already find the magical atmosphere that we are looking for!
We sit quietly and then go to eat in one of the only open restaurants. To be well in the country, we eat local reindeer! As night falls, the wind rises more and more. And on the road that leads us to the restaurant, we see forming on the road of mini snow tornado. We quickly hasten to get warm in this restaurant while observing the snow squalls outside.
This restaurant is obviously quite famous. And we must admit that what we eat is just delicious. For me this serves a loin of reindeer accompanied by a cranberry sauce and a risotto with morels and grilled salmon with carrot and sea buckthorn sauce served with muffins of potatoes and citrus fruits.
As for dessert, I opt for my part in the Lappish cheese accompanied with a caramel sauce and cranberries and Goldenberry, local blackberries. It is a delight and we feast.The time of a cigarette on the doorstep of the restaurant allows me to see the storm that does not calm down and I try to take a picture of the gusts of wind that we see passing under the street lights.
We go back and after a little beer (a Christmas Kulta Rabbit), we go out to see the state of the sky. Unfortunately this one is too covered to see aurora borealis. We go back to sleep, happy to find a bed after our long day!
Day 2 - Luosto
We wake up at 5:00! Here we are reconciled with Finland. The day before the hotel has prepared a breakfast box that we find this morning on the counter at the reception. The advantage of getting up early is that we can enjoy the first light of the day and this morning is very pretty and very cold too. We stay warm while drinking excellent Viennese chocolate.
Before leaving Rovaniemi we went to visit the Lutheran church. Bistre paintings decorate the walls of the church, evoking biblical episodes. Then we went to the museum of the forest, evoking the work and the dwelling of the woodcutters until the war. We see the first steamboat used in Lapland at the beginning of the 20th century. This boat towed the wooden trains on the river.
We drive up our way to Luosto, a 2 hours drive north. Later, we cross the Arctic Circle (Napapiiri in Finnish). The polar circle is the parallel beyond which there is at least one day when the sun does not rise in winter, and is located at latitude 66° 33' 44".
Here we make a short shopping break at Santa Claus Village. We buy a reindeer owl and homemade blueberry pies. All along the way we come across lakes with a beautiful blue color as we saw in Sweden. The vegetation is different from the center of Finland. I think it's more beautiful. This is an opportunity to discover the landscapes of the Far North.
We see long frozen plains, interspersed with pine forests with occasionally a farm on the side of the road. It is 2 pm, but the sun is setting. It seems a little unreal, and the change of scenery is total! What seems a little unreal also is the state of the roads that are perfect, and yet we do not cross many people between Rovaniemi and Luosto.
As I told you, the day is splendid to take pictures of landscapes! For the first time of our stay, the clouds have invaded a magnificent blue sky and make the landscapes look like naive paintings with colorful little houses in the background. The air is pure and it is only silence all around us. It's just beautiful and we appreciate all the more these moments that the beautiful days have been rare during our trip.
We are slowly approaching Luosto. The road is beautiful, straight and the landscape oscillates between birch forests and frozen lakes. There is very little traffic in this part of the country which allows frequent photo stops. We arrive in Luosto after the closure of the mine.
Leaving the mine to mount a bivouac on a ski resort on the foot of the Tunturi, the treeless hills that form the National Park. The term tunturi (Finnish term of Sami origin) is quite difficult to translate, but in Finland it means a rounded mountain of low height (around 400-500 m). The mountains present in this natural park are among the oldest in the world.
The view we discover is beautiful. The sun is grazing, the gradient of the sky, from blue to pink among this slightly hilly landscape of tundra. It's just sublime. We meet a herd of reindeer. They are eating and do not care about us. We are alone, facing the ski slopes. I think we will have a quiet night unless we have reindeer visit.
In Luosto, we settle in a village of log cabins. Once inside, we get the keys to our cottage. The interiors are sober but very comfortable with a sauna and a private fireplace. In addition to its material comfort, the manager provide us with a mobile phone on which we would receive a text message in case of aurora borealis. We decided to walk a little.
The night falls quickly. So we go back quickly, light the fireplace and test the sauna. Life is hard in the far north. This is another log cabin on the edge of a lake that hosts our evening. We start with a traditional sauna at the lake. Champagne helps the less courageous to try the experience of soaking in the waters of the lake by -30 degrees! During the meal, we enjoy a live orchestra to close this day strong in emotions.
Day 3 - Pyha-Luosto National Park
It's the day that wakes us up this morning and pushing the curtains it is a treat to see so much snow. On the other hand the thermometer behind the window displays -20 degrees. So, instinctively we go back under the quilt. It's the desire for a big breakfast that will push us out. The weather is nice, and the day looks great!
What's great about holidays is that the days go by and are not alike and that I love! There is always something new to discover and we are each time like kids, all happy in front of a Christmas present! And this morning, we are particularly happy because we will test a ride with the sled dogs! After a hearty breakfast we drive up our way from the chalet to the road.
We drive to the other end of the Pyha-Luosto National Park. We go muffled in our jackets, eager to go try this new activity! Luckily, we are alone with a nice Swiss-German couple. We stop at a small car park at the end of the 962 road as it crosses the famous E75 road (European-style road that crosses Finland from north to south, but also all of Europe from Athens to Greece, to Vardo in Norway).
The entrance to the park is symbolized by two gigantic wooden birds. The sun is rising and the view is magnificent. On the other hand, the temperature is always fresh. We make the decision to visit the surroundings, and in particular Sodankyla, the nearest town to the park.
This city has little interest from an architectural point of view, since, like most towns and villages of Lapland, it suffered great damage during the war (sometimes by the Russian, sometimes by the Germans). The only attraction of this city in winter is its wooden church.
In Pyha we pick up some cooking fuel and off we go! The route takes us around the Pyha ski resort mountains and down into one of the deepest canyons in Finland, the Isokuru Pyhatunturi Gorge. A boardwalk leads over the bottom of the rocky gorge.
We decide for a safari with huskies. Our snowmobiles take us to a Nordic dog farm. More than hundred just-born puppies to experienced veteran dogs bark impatiently when we arrive. They know they'll soon be hitched for a forest walk. We are trained a few minutes to learn how to manage the sleigh!
It's a bit sporty because the dogs are excited and they shoot hard sometimes, but it's really fun. The sky was pastel blue and all those white trees looked like burnt candles. It is indescribable. It feels peaceful, as the air is fresh and pure. After that we are invigorated!
We end up after returning to the kennel and we take the opportunity to cuddle a little in front of puppies. Then we drink a Lappish soup and a local pastry in a cottage to warm up. We found a reindeer farm a little more authentic and less touristy than others and we decided to eat in a kota in the middle of the forest. We are alone, with a lady who installs us each in a sledge, muffled in blankets!
But it's really wonderful, we are all alone lost in the forest, quiet, sometimes with the moon that comes to us enlighten! We have two hours of walk to the kota, a little wooden cottage lost in the forest, open to everyone. We are cold, and we need to warm up. That's pretty good considering it's lunch time. Sitting indoors, we take the time to warm ourselves while watching the life that goes on outside.
We do not let ourselves go! We have Paneroitu Ahven, a fillet of perche breaded with a carrot sauce accompanied by small potatoes and Poronpihvi, or pieces of reindeer braised with a cranberry sauce and vegetables. W also have the local beer, the Rabbit Kulta. Feet discreetly wedged under the radiator to warm them we taste our succulent dishes. Unfortunately once our meal is over, we have to face the cold again.
Before climbing up the steep slope on the other side of the Isokuru Gorge, we change from ski to snowshoes. On our snowshoes we climb Noitatunturi, one of the highest summits in the park. The setting sun makes this a spectacular ascent.
The strange statue on the summit appears to be a heavily iced summit sign. We have a beautiful view over the flat tundras from here. After the ascent of Noitatunturi we go down to the track and set up camp. We did not bring tents this time, so we pull out the bivy bags, tightening them with our ski. We decide to make a fire and spend the night inside this unmanned but very comfortable shelter.
While we build a campfire and cook some food the evening sets in. We were prepared toast with some sort of dried reindeer meat. Our campfire creates a magical orange glow between the Nordic Spruces. We even spot a very faint Aurora towards the North, interfering with the glow from the town of Luosto in the distance.
We are short of wood, and try a small expedition in the dark night, to find where is the reserve of wood of our cottage. After searching everywhere, having fallen over and over again in the depths of several meters of powder that surrounds the cottages, we find a shed. This is an opportunity for a good moment of frankness that gives us a little balm to the heart.
I take this opportunity to take a picture of our cottage lit by this clear moonlit night. We are in the middle of nowhere. The ski resort, at about 15 kilometers from here, is well lit and creates a reddish glow over the treetops. The real world is never too far away in this park. Outside as it begins to snow, we prepare our meal while enjoying one of the many local beers. Tonight it will be a glass of Koff.
Day 4 - Lampivaara Amethyst Mine
In the morning we have breakfast and irish coffee and then continue along the skitrack in the heart of the park. We depart at 9:30 am for the parking lot of the Amethyst mine. The path was really beautiful. Although it was not sunny, the trees were full of snow and there was total silence. That's really what struck me. Aside from the sound of our snowshoes, there was total silence. When we stopped, there was absolutely no noise!
Arriving at the car park on foot to Lampivaara and its cafe where we buy the tickets for the mine. We are left with a group of Italian and a German couple we met yesterday. The atmosphere is very cheerful. We leave then towards the mine while continuing to admire all that surrounds us. The track goes up a bit and we soon arrive on a hill where the view should be beautiful in good weather!
A gentleman invites us to enter a small hut made of wood. We sit there and drink a delicious tea waiting for other people who arrive by snowmobile. A big group arrives and the gentleman begins to explain the story of the mine. It's very interesting, but we start to wonder what we are going to see! After half an hour, we leave to discover the famous mine.
Our guide explains the process of formation of amethyst. He explains everything in English. Then he leads us on the field of research. The guide distributes a small hammer to each, and here we are, digging, looking for small purple stones. I find a few small ones and also lots of other stones including quartz and am very proud of me. We are true researchers. We go down to our super happy roulette house. After some hesitation on the choice of the exit, we leave for a snowmobile trip and choose it over the sleigh and Huskies.
We are well dressed and the guy from the agency gives us suits, gloves and boots, and we look like cosmonauts! After the explanations of use and the safety instructions, we leave carefully for our trip. After a good hour in the plain and in the middle of snowy trees, we come back happy and determined to leave again next time for much longer!
Coming out of there, we observe a totally unforgettable horizon! The view is breathtaking. Once at the edge of a large lake, we leave the snowmobiles and everyone digs their hole for fishing. Then it's time to snack with tea or kahvi and cakes. I start taking photos with my iPhone.
And it's really beautiful! The landscapes around are grandiose especially with a blue sky! Thanks to the snow, the interior of the forests is very clear and the often frozen trees are impressive! On the roads, as soon as we get away from the tracks left by the snowmobiles, we plunge into a meter of snow.
Near the summit we cross a fairytale-like world of frozen and thickly iced trees. From the edge of the trees we enter the barren flat Arctic summit area of Luostotunturi. The summit is home to a lonely weather radar station, which makes for a dramatic objective of our ascent. The weather radar station is completely covered in thick ice. We descend on the shadow side of the mountain. This is steeper than it looks!
When we come out, it is around 15:00 and the night begins to fall. We are starting to get used to these schedules! We spend a little more time in the snow and resume our track to get home! Upon arrival in Luosto we have a few nice beers below the ski slopes, before we get back into one of the warm and comfortable log cabins.
We decided to take a local guide just for us to cross the woods with snowshoes and to spend a night waiting for aurora borealis. During our trip, the young guide transmits us all his passion for his work, the love for his country and the respect for nature and old sayings and traditions.
The sami, are an ancient population of breeders, that have been leaving here for ages and protect their beliefs. They believe the bear is a holy animal, that there is a life after death. As they see a fallen tree oriented to the North, they turn around it three times hoping to become a bear in their next life. There is a kind of border after the Artic Polar Circle after which there is no need to be in rush.
Should I reconsider my life? Is this real life or is it mine with deadlines, hurry and stress? I keep thinking about my daily routine as we go out with our guide looking for aurora borealis. We drive for kilometers before our guide decides what direction to take, taking his decision after looking at the clouds.
After trying to escape from the threatening clouds, we rest in a wooden hut that with a big fireplace in its center. Our guide brings some wood and lights the fire with an astonishing simplicity which makes me think about the skills of a common boy of the same age. We talk as we prepare some tea and roast some sausages. Everything is done with a great calm while waiting that the clouds move from the sky above us.
As the sky above Luosto lights up that night it is in the heart of the forest that I chose to put my tripod to take the photos. With great surprise I find out I wish that that moment never ends. According to Sami beliefs, there are three relaxing things like looking at an asleep kid, listening and watching at the river flow and enjoying the fireplace. And it is in this cosy and secret refuge that I feel like I am in a dream. I would really want it never ends.
There is a small shelter where we can build a fire. It is too small to spend the night, so we sleep in the open lean-to shelter close to Ukko-Luosto cabin. The Ukkoluosto lean-to shelter is open, but the wooden flooring provides some comfort. Temperatures drop to -15 degrees during the night. We do an expedition to fetch wood and make a big bonfire, a nice dinner, with a small bottle of Karhu (that means the beer).
Day 5 - Tankavaara
We get up around 8:30 because we want to enjoy the good weather arrived to climb to the top of the ski slopes to see the view! After a good breakfast, we equip ourselves to go out and face the cold. I loved this half hour when the light and the colors changed in this sumptuous decor. There was a slight wind that made the temperature drop and that could infiltrate everywhere.
It's a very beautiful day ahead and we intend to enjoy it at maximum. I put the logs in the fireplace one after the other because it snows outside and it's as if the colors were all gone elsewhere. I feel like in B&W. We make a stop a few kilometers further to take a real breakfast in a very small ski resort.
At the end of this road we come across a small car park with a wooden barn and an explanatory panel. Welcome to Suvanto, which in Finnish means lost corner. Before going to see what the village looks like we stop in front of this barn which seems to shelter a barge. The village is located beyond the Kitinen River.
Around us there is a silence. The river is one with the snowy banks and the bridge that leads to Suvanto is difficult to imagine in the snowy haze. The atmosphere is almost surreal but beautiful. Suvanto was voted the most beautiful village of Lapland in 1987. But under this thick blanket of snow, the roads are not clear and I wonder even if it is inhabited.
We turn around in front of a magnificent yellow house with only one Samoyed dog barking at us. Back on the road 962, we continue our road towards Pelkosenniemi where, hunger being felt, we hope to find something to eat. Arriving at Pelkosenniemi we have the impression of having landed in the middle of a lost village in the far north of Canada or deep in Siberia. The atmosphere that emerges with the falling snow and the cold, is more than exotic.
We would almost expect to see polar bears! I even find it difficult to transcribe what I feel, as the atmosphere is supernatural. We decide to go get some ingredients to make homemade sandwiches with black bread, cheese and salami, with a dessert packet of cakes. We drive near the church and will be our point of improvised picnic. The sandwiches are done on the dashboard as the snow begins to cover the car.
We go down the street, to go get a little kahvi at the cafeteria of the gas station. I really regret not having taken my camera at this time because the moment was really special. Sitting inside the cafeteria part of this tiny petrol station, we see the snow falling, the cold pinching and two cars waiting.
After the meal we take the road towards Tankavaara, a former village of gold diggers. Along the way we stop in a shop run by a Sami artist. We buy reindeer bone keychains on which are painted Sames symbols. We buy symbols of peace, trust and health. On the road, we see reindeer as we had never seen before. We do not even stop to photograph them, as there are too many.
The E75 road takes us through Vuosto, which is symbolically considered as the gateway to the Sami territory. An arch spanning the road and a red house covered with the Sami flag mark this crossing. When I say that it is symbolic it is simply that the Sami territory extended, at a certain time, much further south to Rovaniemi. On this road almost in a straight line we see a fox crossing. Dressed in winter coat of an orange, it is beautiful and especially too fast to take a picture.
The road takes us along the Urho Kekkonen National Park. This park is one of the wildest in Europe and it houses all that Finland can count of animals with Elan, fox, wolverine, bear, ptarmigan, owl, snow owl. It is very wild and subject to many restrictions imposed by the Metsahallitus to preserve it. Some areas, such as the part backed by the Russian border, are even prohibited.
We have been driving for a long time and a little break is needed to enjoy this wild nature. We get back on the E75, where this part of the road is nicknamed the Arctic Road. Just before arriving at Ivalo, the road takes us through a kind of mountain, where the landscape is breathtaking. It must be in the open air, because the tundra landscape is devoid of the least tree or shrub. The panels and poles at the top of this little mountain are like petrified by ice and wind.
We go through Ivalo, where we see an astonishing modern Lutheran church. Passing Ivalo and the river Alajarvi means, to go to the most beautiful part of the road, the one that goes along the lake Inari (Inarijarvi in Finnish, and Aanaarjavri in Sami).
The Inari lake is the third largest lake in Finland and 9th in Europe. The presence of the many lakes in Finland is explained by the fact that when the warm seasons arrive, the snow melts, but the earth does not have time to absorb all this mass of water.
Lake Inari has numerous islands and on one of them is Ukonsaari, a sacred place of the Sami, an ancient sanctuary where the Lapps came to sacrifice reindeer and dogs for the spirits. Even today the Sami are very careful to go there only on certain dates. For our part we try to take a path that sinks into the forest overlooking a small cove of the lake. It is past 12 o'clock and yet the grazing light of the sun, is reminiscent of a summer sun around 8, very low but very bright.
We finish the remaining few kilometers to Siida, the museum of Sami people. The term Siida is a little complicated to explain but it means a sacred area that can range from some stones, but also pastures of reindeer, or a breeding area, in short, the nerve center, economic and sacred of Sami people (who were pejoratively called Lapons not so long ago).
We have lunch there before starting the visit, and take a Luna, a kind of menu that includes a hot dish, often at will, and a dessert. It is almost a ritual, an alternative to fast food. It is often served in cafes, cafeterias or public places. The museum's mezzanine restaurant leaves the shades of the sun through the shutters and a good reindeer stew is very welcome to visit before the museum visit.
In two rooms, are very well summarized bases to understand these peoples. Their traditions, their discoveries, their cultures, their way of life, to dress but especially the differences between the ethnic groups of Norway, Finland or Russia. Around the central island, where the history of Sami people is gathered, we see our first stuffed wolverine.
In this park, we even see a Snow Theater, a temporary theater all in ice. The large blocks of ice are covered with reindeer skins, and the screen is also a huge block of ice. So here we are back on the E75 to make the road in the opposite direction which inevitably, with the fatigue, seems to us longer.
At the turn of a bend we see a large column of smoke escaping from the lake. The difference in temperature between air and water, and the presence of a thermal power plant on the other side of the road, explains the phenomenon. Nevertheless, we were no longer used to seeing water. The night falls, and a glance allows us to distinguish a magnificent and gigantic red moon.
We have a small stop on a parking lot, from which escapes furtively two reindeer, and I try to take a picture of this impressive star. We take our kahvi accompanied by a cinnamon rolls (small roll with cinnamon and cardamom called Korvapuusti) in this cafe where time seems to have stopped in the 60s.
We go to a ski resort in Kaunispaa, which dominate the whole valley, and where we are alone in the world. Unfortunately the sky is covered. So we will not see the midnight sun and as it is very cold we go down to sleep in the valley.
We go back a little tired, and prepare a small dinner accompanied, tonight, with a glass of Kulta Rabbit. But for tonight, the evening does not stop there! As we go out to smoke a cigarette, we roll our eyes and we see the Northern Lights. The show literally taps us on the spot. There is no time to get the camera, as we want to enjoy fully. Suddenly they calm down a little. We return to take the camera, the tripod, and wait in the cold that the phenomenon begins again.
Unfortunately those we will see will not have the same strength, and we will see only stealthy traces that do not seem to decide to embark on the dance. We go to bed with these beautiful pictures in the head. I am a little disappointed that the show did not last longer, but we had to resign ourselves.
Day 6 - Rovaniemi
We get up early enough to clean the cottage, and pack the suitcases. Our week is coming to an end and it's time for us to find space for everything we've bought and make room for all we have left to buy! We have to leave the chalet for our evening train at 9pm which leaves us all day to quietly go to Rovaniemi. To avoid the direct road, we will make a big loop that goes to the east by Savukoski, Salla, Kemijarvi and Rovaniemi.
Since we arrived in Finland, we have been traveling along the Russian border. We wanted to get close when we were in Inari, but we had to give up for lack of time. So, there, by the loop that we do, we miss the border post of Salla, lost in the middle of the woods in one of the coldest corners of Finland.
Some shops or signs in the surrounding towns are written in both Finnish and Cyrillic characters and as the border approaches the control panels are becoming more and more present. Just before arriving at the border post, there is a huge parking lot that informs the curiosities of the region, which explain the basic rules in the Finnish parks. This is where we park. I want to get closer to the border crossing to immortalize it.
We follow the road under the watchful eye of cameras that monitor the vehicles. We dare not approach any more, so I take a quick photo and we go back to the car. I looked on Google Earth if people had uploaded photos of this border post, but all more or less been taken in the same place as mine. Nobody seems to have ventured further than this panel.
We then take the road 82 towards Salla where, before making a small tour in the city we take fuel. We make a quick tour to Salla. In the autumn of 1939, during the Winter War, Soviet troops attacked Finland and invaded the Salla region. Stalin had indeed planned to cut Finland in two at its narrowest point, to join the Gulf of Bothnia (which is the natural border with Sweden).
The Soviets were then stopped by the Finnish army during the Battle of Salla. At the end of this conflict, part of the municipality of Salla was ceded to the Soviet Union. We come across a beautiful church in a modern and refined style, which makes me think of the churches that can be seen in Iceland or in other Nordic countries.
I really like this very rough architecture, pruned, with a sloping roof that does not hold the snow, as well as its belfry in the architectural continuity. We continue our route towards Kemijarvi. We stop, all the same, to go to see more closely this church with its belfry. Again, it is closed, but nevertheless I cannot help but admire the work done on the massive door handles.
In the park, a few dozen meters up the belfry under the watchful eye of this sculpture covered with a thin cover of frost. We swallow a little something quickly and take the road under the light that declines. So we go back to the Arctic Circle for the last time of our stay, and leave behind us the 66° parallel with a little touch of nostalgia.
We do some last souvenir shopping in the big shopping center of Rovaniemi. We are a Friday night, and this abrupt return to civilization is quite violent. After shopping we go to the Artikum, where we now know that parking is free. I take the opportunity to take some pictures of the night canopy that ends in the Kemijoki River. We parked here to see a boutique museum, an ancient brand of traditional knives that still makes Lapland knives in the purest Sami tradition.
The knives are beautiful with a birch handle. After taking a tour of the museum and fleeing a horde of noisy tourists, we head for the car. Before going to redeposit the car, we park to see the Lappia-Talo or Lappia House, designed by the architect and Finnish designer Alvar Aalto.
The Lappia Hall , is a kind of cultural complex including a theater and concert hall, but also the Rovaniemi Town Hall as well as the library built in 1965. The lighting at night, on the roof of the house Lappia is reminiscent of the aurora borealis, visible in the region. We walk around among the creations of the master.
We continue to the library (Kirjasto) which adjoins Lappia Hall, and which brings a strong dynamic with this row of columns. The pillars are also frozen and some have fun to leave the trace of their hand. We leave our car in the parking lot of the station, and reconnect the car on the terminal. We clean the car by removing the ice blocks in the grille, on the trunk or on the windshield. The temperature helps us but some are not far from ten centimeters thick.
I like the atmosphere of the station. I take this opportunity to take some pictures of the small station of Rovaniemi. Our train, the Santa Claus Express arrives in station. I love the design of their night trains with this half-asleep owl that takes the full height of this two-story train.
The corridors are not very attractive and it does not have the charm of the old night trains, but I must admit, the compartment is rather cozy. We try to fit the suitcases under the beds, but that does not fit. The suitcases take up all the space, but when the controller comes to punch our tickets, we try in vain to make room to open the door.
I take my quarters on the small seat near the window, and we taste our sandwiches watching the night scenery scroll. I really like the atmosphere and the night landscapes with the little houses still decorated with Christmas lights.
After a few stops, the train takes its cruising speed. I read a little before falling into the arms of Morpheus. Tomorrow, morning the train arrives at 8:30 in Helsinki, and we want to get up early to pack the bags, and enjoy the sunrise over the Finnish countryside.