Tuesday, August 11, 2009

To the Arctic Circle and Back

I had a successful solo adventure to the Arctic Circle and arrived back in Helsinki right on time at 6:54 this morning.

My train left Helsinki at 9:24 PM on Monday and I had a berth in one of the sleeper cars since I had 13 hours on the train, most of those during my usual sleeping time. Here is a photo of my cabin.

I was assigned the bottom bunk and my cabin mate was due to get on the train in Tampere, a stop on our route around midnight. I did some knitting and looking out the window until it got too dark, (11 PM!), enjoying the new scenery. Logging is big business in the north of Finland and I saw several trains full of logs going to a mill. Finland is very flat and the central part has lots of lakes.

My cabin mate never showed up to our cabin, so I had a nice single room for the trip. The conductor did come into the cabin shortly after midnight to see if the woman had arrived. I didn't sleep great which is know real surprise, but I was ready to explore Rovaniemi when we arrived at 10:41 on Tuesday morning. My tour book indicated that there was a public bus (#8) that went to the Arctic Circle/Santa's Village and that I could catch this bus at the train station. And sure enough, after a bit of wandering around, I found a bus sign with the number 8 on it, along with a small group of people who were also headed to the Arctic Circle. The bus was a great way to travel and after about a half hour ride we pulled into the very touristy Santa's Village. And here I am, north of the Arctic Circle!

There were lots of gift shops and touristy photos opportunities, including this huge basket of knitting, where people from around the world have knit on this scarf!!! I couldn't pass up that photo op!!

Across the street from the village there was a nature walk/hike so I figured that was a good thing to do. This walk highlighted how a young forest takes hold in the mostly peak bog land mass that is quite common in northern Finland.

Right at the beginning of the hike there were these large replicas of the locally famous Cloudberries.

When I'd had enough of Santa's Village, I took the bus back towards Rovaniemi, but got off near a museum that got very good reviews, and I wasn't disappointed. The museum, Arktikum, was dedicated to life in Lapland, both historic and present time, and to the native Sami culture.

It was all very interesting and I am very glad that I stopped. An architectural feature of this museum is the very large and imposing glass tunnel.

All the exhibit halls are off this central tunnel, and the tunnel can be seen from several different major roads around Rovaniemi. When I came back into the glass tunnel after seeing a good slide show on the Northern Lights, it had started to rain outside and very shortly after that came the thunder and lightening. The glass tunnel was the place to watch this storm blow through. It seemed like most people in the museum made their way into the tunnel and just stayed there to watch the storm!

There is a research library attached to this museum and I was able to use one of their computers to send Jim a quick e-mail, letting him know that I had arrived safely and completed my mission of getting north of the Arctic Circle. I was also able to delay my exit into the rain storm.
I had a 20 minute walk back to the train station, and fortunately I had packed my raincoat and umbrella because they were still essential items! It felt good to take a power walk before getting on the train again.

I boarded the return train at 6 PM and once again had a private cabin! And, believe it or not, I slept like a dead person! I even slept through my alarm at 6:25 AM, awaking at 6:38! I jumped out of bed because the train was stopped and I knew our arrival time was 6:54! Fortunately, the train hadn't arrived early into Helsinki, allowing me 16 minutes to get myself ready for when we did arrive!
Jim met my train, then he went for a run. After quick showers for both of us, we ate breakfast together before I sent him off on a train for his day at work.

So I will spend the day exploring Helsinki on my own and try to do some laundry.

Thanks to all who sent congratulatory comments to Jim!

Hope all is well.

1 comment:

coreyrob said...

Sounds like a nice way to day trip!