I live in one of the smallest country in the world, so you can imagine my delight and surprise when I saw a directional sign to Singapore! Yes, according to the marker, I was 9,934km away from home, it made me feel very homesick indeed...
You'll find the marker at Santa's Village. See website for details on how to get there.
A trek in the Finnish woods with our guide led to a big reindeer farm. Now, reindeer are protected creatures over here. There's no random shooting and each of these buggers are tagged. During the summer when food is plentiful, these creatures are allowed to roam free in the wild and grow fat. During the winter, they are rounded up in farms like this. I had the opportunity to feed Rudolph, a young male with handsome, furry antlers.
Add: Somewhere in the depths of a Finnish wood.
If you're in Rovaneimi in March or September, you'll find a local bazaar - the Rovaniemi Market -just next to the supermaket, not too far from the train station . You'll see a range of wares for sale, ranging from reindeer pelt to balloons for awestruck kids..
The markets pops out in June too, during summer.
The Kemi Snowcastle is actually also a "tourist trap", but since most foreign tourists don't go to Kemi, it's more a tourist trap for Finnish tourists.
The snowcastle itself is in the same place every year, but during the ten years it has been built, it has changed and grown bigger. Inside the castle walls there are many things. An ice hotel, snowrestaurant, chapel, suite, gallery, ice tower, rooftop terrace, sauna, labyrinth and a lot more, even a "snowballsea"for the kids!
The castle is worth going to, and also Kemi itself, even though it's even smaller than Rovaniemi, is a lovely city! It's situated about 100 kilometers south from Rovaniemi, just in the "armpit" of the Gulf of Bothnia.
Here's some general info...
:: SnowCastle is open from 29st of January to 10th of April 2005 daily 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
:: Opening ceremony of SnowCastle is held on 28th of January 2005 at 6 p.m.
:: SnowRestaurant open to public 31December - 28 January 6.p.m.-8.p.m.
:: Mammut SnowHotel is open for accommodation from 31st of December to 3th of April 2005.
:: single ticket
5 – 11 yrs EUR 2,50
adults EUR 5,00
:: season ticket
5 – 11 yrs EUR 5,00
adults EUR 10.00
:: Children under 5 yrs free of charge
:: Guided Tours
:: Combination ticket SnowCastle and Gemstone Gallery adults 8 EUR and for children under 12 yrs 4 EUR
ADDRESS: Kemi, Torikatu 2.
Vaattunkiköngäs rapids is a lovely place to spend a day outside with some friends. The best way would probably be to invite some of your friends who you've met during your visit in Finland and take the 15 minute car drive to Vaattunkiköngäs.
The best time to visit Vaattunkiköngäs is probably in June, but also in the autumn when the ground is full of berries. The place is pretty new and it has about 30 km of good-quality tracks. There are also cabins you can reserve. There are many activities you can do in Vaattunkiköngäs. In the summer you can go rapidboating or rapidswimming, canoeing, fishing, photographing and hiking. In the autumn you can do all the previous and berrypicking and mushroompicking. In the winter there are snowshoe hiking, snowmobiling, husky- and reindeersafaris and cross-country skiing. All the special, equipment-requiering activities can be ordered from the number below.
I've spent some memorable autumnpicnics at Vaattunkiköngäs with my family and friends, usually when we go there we take some sausage, bred, mustard, salad and other food, cups for berrypicking and a happy mind... then we walk a bit, go to the rapids and the kids can play there, then we eat and have some more fun and then go home. It's simple and refreshing!! I recommend!
Santa Claus' spectacular Main Post Office is located close to Rovaniemi, in Santa Claus' Village. It's Christmas every day at Santa's Post Office, built of natural stone and AIHKI logs. More than half a million people visit the Polar Circle every year in search of the true Christmas spirit. At Santa Claus' Main Post Office a whole bunch of busy assistant elves are at your service, speaking different languages!
Each year, Santa gets hundreds of thousands of letters from 150 countries all over the world. The children in Great Britain, Poland and Japan are the busiest writers. During the summer months, Santa gets approximately 100 letters every day. He tries to answer letters from foreign countries, if the writer requests a reply.
Many children and grownups think that Santa's study with the fireplace is the nicest room of Santa's Main Post Office. There you can admire letters, pictures and gifts sent by children, and sit down for a moment in Santa's sturdy rocking chair. In the background you can hear lovely Christmas carols.
The address of Santa Claus is: Santa Claus' Main Post Office, Santa Village, FIN-96930 NAPAPIIRI
Reindeer Park is located 1 km south from Santa Claus Village. You can see from 30-50 reindeers throughout the year .
In winter time you can experience a
drive on sleds pulled by reindeer, but
you can also visit the Reindeer Park
in summertime when you can watch closely new born reindeer calves.
Unbelievable experience !
I saw the most wonderful desert in the world like Namibia and Morocco and the Thar in India !
I saw the ice landscapes in Finland - Norway and Sweden !
Traveling - what an experience and a relativating way to enjoy this small world !
Koivusaari is an island of river Ounasjoki about 1,5 km north of Rovaniemi along E-75 highway. This short nature trail (luontopolku in Finnish) starts from the Ounaspaviljonki boat harbour near the highway bridge. The path is covered with wood and easy to walk. Some plants you can see along the path: Cinnamon rose (Rosa majalis), Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis) and Carex cespitosa. Nice place for watching birds that live in the bushes and along the river. Along the path you can find information (also in English) about the nature and history of the island.
When in Santa Claus Village, go to Santa Claus Gift House (which is right across from his Office). There you will find the Arctic Circle Office and various gift shops. You will also see a rocking chair right there - and next to it a basket with balls of wool and a looooooooooooooong knitted scarf. It is a scarf for Santa and everyone can sit down and knit a row or two or ten..... Especially after having met this wonderful man, I felt I just had to add at least a centimeter to this scarf!
To see the region in a nice way go to the top of the Ounasvaara (hill). Either on summer or winter the best view is on the top of the Sky Hotel. There are stairs on the side of the hotel - you can go there to sit or stand and watch around...its very nice, i promise. If you are EXTREMELY lucky you might see even the northern lights on winter. To get to sky hotel, you have to cross the old bridge to Ounasvaara side and turn right. Then just continue straight towards Urheilukeskus (sporting center). Sky Hotel is on the top so continue forward - there should be street signs to the hotel.
If you are in Rovaniemi mainly to see Santa Claus and don't have time to explore the nature of Lapland, there is a palace you can go to get a piece of scenery. On top of the hill under which Santa Park (originally a nuclear shelter) was dug, there is a small observation tower you can climb. From there, you get a panoramic view of the surroundings of Rovaniemi -- as well as a glimpse of the town itself in the distance.
The trail up the hill starts near the Santa Park parking lot. It took me 10 minutes to go up in summer, but it could take longer in the winter, depending on the condition of the trail and its stairs. It's definitely worth the detour, especially if you are already in the Santa Claus Village or Santa Park area.
Lapland Safaris are one of the biggest outdoor companies in Lapland that will take you for an outdoor activity, skiing, river cruise, a husky safari or just hiking around all depends on the season and availability.
In the warm summer days it is possible to swim in the river, but be careful as in some places the current might be very danger, however, it seems that the locals surely have the experience and aware of that, they just swim :)
Many people visit the Santapark (the Santa Claus' cave in the Arctic Circle) inside Syvasenvaara hill. It is easy to walk to the top of the hill to see how the area of Rovaniemi looks like. The wooden stairs can be found near the parking area of Santapark. The path to the top is only about 250 - 300 meters long and there is also a small lookout tower. You can see the river valleys, hills and forests and the town of Rovaniemi.