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Tornio - Ivalo, we pass the Arctic Circle near Rovaniemi

Home -> Europe -> Finland -> Travelogue Finland -> 23 & 24 June 2002

Sunday 23 June, Tornio - Ivalo, we pass the Arctic Circle near Rovaniemi

In the last few days we have made few pictures, but today we compensate for that. It is hard to decide which pictures we want to use for the site. The reason for making so many pictures today is the changing landscape: the boring cultivated woods disppear and a hilly tundra landscape appears with some rougher woods here and there.
RovaniemiFirst the road takes us to Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland. After a somewhat cloudy day yesterday, the sky is getting clearer today and we see lots of sun. This town was destroyed by the Germans in 1944 and when we walk through it, it is obvious that almost all buildings are quite new and modern.
Polar circle Polar circleJust north of Rovaniemi we pass the arctic circle, degenerated into a touristic attraction park. We only spend a few minutes to take the necessary touristic pictures.
Polar circle Postoffice of Santa ClausAccording to this sign with distances, it is only 1972 kilometres to Amsterdam in a straight line; we have driven almost 4000 kilometres until now. What have we done wrong? From the Santa Claus post office you can send a postcard with a special Santa Claus stamp, but we never send postcards!
At Sodankylä At SodankyläThe date is June 23 and we have passed the arctic circle: the sun shall not set anymore! A strange experience, although we have no plans to stay up a whole night to witness this phenomena.
From the polar circle we drive on to Sodankylä and the sceneries are becoming prettier and more impressive. There is a lot of alternation, more than we have seen in Finland until now.
Oldest Samenchurch, Sodankylä Samen with reindeerAt Sodankylä we visit the oldest church of the Samen in Lapland. The wooden building dates back to the end of the 17th century, but close to it a newer stone church has been build.
In this village there is also a famous statue, called the Samen with his reindeer. After the nuclear accident at Tsjernobyl a lot of the reindeer had to be killed and the Samen were threatened in maintaining their way of life, depending as many of them were (and are) of reindeer breeding. By mail we are later informed this was the case in Sweden, not in Finland.
The Samen are now divided into different economical groups and the tourist-Samen is a growing one; as a tribe they can be compared to the American indian tribes. They have little choice of how to make a living and have to find new ways to survive. Hopefully they will be able to preserve their culture despite this yielding to tourism.
Reindeer ReindeerTourists like ourselves, who are eager to buy their cheap goods and want to have a picture of ourselves with 'wild' reindeer. We run into this flock accidently, they were on an intersection on a road with much traffic. But we would have arranged a setting like this, if we had been Samen, just to lure tourists into the shops nearby.
Reindeer ReindeerEven the reindeer use the crosswalk, well educated as they are!
We run into reindeer 10 times today, from a single one to this group of almost 30 reindeer! One of them makes Teije try out the anti-break system of our car; he doesn't notice a reindeer standing on the road and smoke comes from the tires when we continue our way. So we drive on in a slower pace than the permitted 90 km. an hour...
Detail log cabinAlong the well maintained road to Ivalo, Teije has to take once more a side road and we take it from Kakslauttanen. Along this unpaved road we see trailers everywhere and even a wooden public toilet (shich really needs some cleaning). On the picture to the left one can see how the trunks have been hollowed to fit them into each other.
Wooden sculptures Wooden sculpturesAlso, there are wooden sculptures on very desolate spots, sometimes accompanied by mailboxes, probably some sort of nameplates. The Finnish Samen are well-known for their beautiful works of wood engraving.
Lake at Ivalo Log cabin IvaloTeije doesn't know when to stop when it comes to driving into side roads and takes another one. But after a few kilometres we can't go further because of the bad condition of the road. At least we can take a nice picture. And we see a lot more reindeer. But at this point we decide to stop taking pictures of every reindeer we meet.
So we drive back to the E75 and to the campsite at Ivalo where we have a nice cabin, next to a beautiful lake.
Wooden wigwam 11h30 at night After a walk around the campingsite, where also this original wooden wigwam stands, we return to our cabin and try to stay awake, but at twelve we are so tired that we have to sleep, while outside the sun is shining; it looks as if it is 4 in the afternoon.

Wednesday 24 April 2002, through the north of Finland to Norway

KarhunpesäkiviThis morning it is much cooler then yesterday. Halfway to Inari we pass Karhunpesäkivi (don't ask us how to pronounce that, we have no idea), Bear-stone in English. After climbing a few hundred metres (well, it's a wooden flight of stairs) we arrive at a huge rock. A load of tourists walk before us and we wait patiently for them to leave.
Karhunpesäkivi KarhunpesäkiviA big cavity has been made inside the rock where prehistoric men used to make sacrifices to the gods. Several people can stand within the cavity. Of course we want to go in, but we have to wait some time before the group of tourists has gone.
Samen-settlement Tourist-SamenIt is still early, so we don't drive straight towards Karasjok in Norway, but follow the E75 until Utsjoki in North-Finland. Along the road we pass some Samen settlements.
Of course we also meet some tourist-Samen along the way, but they don't have much visitors. Most tourists have taken the direct way to Norway, more to the south and we seldom meet any traffic on both sides of the road. The area is getting more inhospitable and we see more and more hills and even real mountains. We like it here!
At SodankyläWe like woods very much, but woods in a combination with hills, mountains, creeks and waterfalls make up the best landscape for us. Finland surely has some charm and we like the nature in the north, but we are a bit disappointed in the mentality of the people (at least, the ones we encountered); most of them were quite rude, but probably there is a very good explanation for that, we don't know. We have had fun here, but we long to cross the river and enter Norway.
But a few weeks after our return home we get an email from Bart Braafhart, a Dutch man who lives for some years in Finland now: "My impression, after reading your travelogue, is that you went to the wrong part of Finland............... The east side is much nicer and offers more variety" We will surely keep that in mind next time! Bart lives at in Salla, in the east. In this town is a pub with the longest name in the world (for a bar): ÄTERITSIPUTERITSIPUOLILAUTATSI BAARI, pronounced as als è-te-rit-sie-poe-te-rit-sie-poe-o-lie-lau-tat-sie- baarie.
The weather changes all the time, today: sometimes it pours, then the sun shines again, all in a few minutes. But in the distance, above Norway, we see more blue and clear skies.
At Utsjoki we cross a bridge over the river Tana and then we are in Norway, the final country of our Scandinavia trip. Also the country where we spend the longest time. But first to the north, to the Nordkapp (North-Cape).


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