Part 2 of our Europe 2019 adventure was to Finland.
After Russia, we took the train from St. Petersburg to Helsinki. The train was not full and we saw the wintry white landscape as we cross Russia into Finland. In a way we were excited to see what is in store for us in Finland where we have only a few days.
Helsinki was full of snow when we arrived and we were fortunate that the AirBnB was not far from the train station although we took a taxi there. It was not difficult to wander around and find grocery nearby. The full day we had was spent with my penpal Sabine who met up with us near the train station and we walked along the main shopping street, walked by the Helsinki Cathedral with its glorious white color, ventured into a children’s museum with an interesting history of the city, watched people dive into the icy cold waters at the Allas Sea Pool and climbed up to the Uspenski Cathedral, a sharp contrast to the lavish ones in Russia. We hopped onto the subway to check out the Marimekko outlet store which was for me one of the highlights from this trip.
The next day was our flight to Rovaniemi near the Arctic Circle where we spent some more days in freezing temperature! We have never been anywhere that was -16C! We walked around the AirBnB flat when we arrived and managed to find the nearest grocery. Oh wow! The snow was so deep at some places and for both kids, it was what made the trip more fun! And at the last minute we decided to go with the advise of our apartment host and go see the Aurora Borealis that night, afraid it will not be visible the following night. The experience was surreal and simply MAGIC! We went out into the hills and walked thru the forest with only a head lamp for light, and before long our eyes adjusted to the dark. We walked thru the deep snow and found the “hut” where we warmed up and our host prepared some traditional sausages and drinks. The temperature outside was about -26C (or probably even less)! And when we saw the lights, it was simply breathtaking even if it was not as strong but we totally were mesmerized in spite of the cold!
Adventure awaits us on our second day in the Arctic starting with a picnic in the woods to try to see the winter sunset but we were not fortunate. Nevertheless the whole experience was amazing from the walk into the woods, sledding, the food, the view from the towers and the fresh fresh fresh air! Writing this post, I feel like we are back there again…
The afternoon was even more unforgettable with the sled dog ride through a private 4-hectare of untamed forest! The whole experience of riding a dog sled was thrilling, exhilarating, scary and fun all rolled into one! The dogs led us thru open spaces and within the forests so trying not swerve or topple was part of the scare. But after, it was WOW!
Our last day was spent walking to downtown Rovaniemi to the museum where we spent most of the day and finding our way to the Santa Village. We got there in time to buy stamps and postcards and mail these out before the post office closed, We crossed the Arctic Circle, too. Most shops were closed by the time we wandered around so we just ended up calling it a day and headed back to the apartment.
Finally, our last day was flying to Helsinki and doing some last-minute shopping at the nearby mall and going back to the Marimekko store.
Here are some details from this journal.
Or watch the flip-thru video of the entire travel journal.
Watch for the last post covering the travel journal of our next stop – the Netherlands.
Thank you for reading.