Helena-Reet: With children on a road trip around Finland (VOL7 – from Kittilä to Rovaniemi, Santa Claus Holiday Village etc) + TRAVEL PHOTOS!

Helena-Reet: With children on a road trip around Finland (VOL7 – from Kittilä to Rovaniemi, Santa Claus Holiday Village etc) + TRAVEL PHOTOS!

NordenBladet – It was a pity to leave Levi, since it had been just wonderful there (read the blog overview HERE and general information what one can do in Levi HERE), however, we were on a road trip around Finland and it was time to move on. New places and new events were awaiting us! Today the trip to Rovaniemi where we planned to stay for two nights was ahead.

It is ca 2 hours driving from Levi to Rovaniemi (about 150km). I had a plan to drive through Särestöniemi museum that was conveniently on the way (Särestöntie 880 99119 Kaukonen), but apparently the GPS in the car was out of order since it was taking us through the wood to absolute wasteland… At some point when it was saying “you will reach destination after 800m” I just turned over as I was afraid to get stuck. The road from Kittilä to Rovaniemi was a little less awsome than the impressions from Kolari-Levi road, but the nature was there and the reindeer at the sides of the road were there, too. For me, the greatest impression from Lapland were the reindeer – they are just so wonderful! Together with the Nordic dark thick forests they create for me the mystic air that I went to find. Lapland is sooo lovable! I mostly like animals when they are freely in the nature – this is why I prefer to take children and go by ourselves into the nature rather than visit moose and husk farms where the animals are exhibited to tourists and used for riding. While the urban folk, constantly in a hurry, literally cannot see them any other way – then it is still good to have them, otherwise people would alienate from animals and from the nature completely.

The usual two-hour drive again took us about five-six hours while every now and then we stopped to enjoy the beautiful nature, see the reindeer, take photos and immediately share them on Instagram / Snapcat with our followers. Here and there we digressed to see the little villages on the sides of the road (Kaukonen, Lohiniva, Molkojoki, Meltaus, Patokoski, Marraskoski, Tapionkylä, Sinettä). Kittilä-Rovaniemi road number 79 goes almost all the way along the side of the longest river in Finland – the Ounasjoki River. Ounasjoki is about 299,6 km long (186,2 miles).

By lunchtime we arrived at Rovaniemi and decided to start with the greatest attraction here in Rovaniemi – the coolest sightseeing – Santa Claus. While we actually mixed things up then hereby I will also inform you that Santa Park (Tarvantie 1, 96930 Rovaniemi) and Santa Claus Holiday Village (Tähtikuja 2 96930 Rovaniemi – ca 8 km from Rovaniemi Centre) are two different destinations, however they are located quite close to one another (about a couple of kilometres apart). The first one was still closed when we arrived in Rovaniemi in October during our trip to Finland (it is open from November on). Santa Claus Holiday Village is a small village with cafes, a large souvenir shop and a possibility to take photos with Santa Claus in the post office for a reasonable amount of money. In our family we celebrate both Hanukka and Christmas – however the last holiday is not related to religion in our celebrations. There are the gnomes – funny little wizards, and Santa Claus, with his long white beard, who comes from Lapland, loves children and brings them presents. For us this is a fictional character, a fictional hero like the Pokus in children’s books (living in Southern Estonia), The Puppy-Girl Lotte (living in Pärnu) or the Moomins (living in Naantali, Finland).

The children (especially Ivanka Shoshana) were waiting with excitement to see Santa, yet ultimately such reserved reception by the children was unexpected. Quite honestly, I myself was rather disappointed. This is largely commerce – not even well-organised and convincinly sweet commerce, but rather somewhat hasty commerce… Along a quite interesting hallway we made it to Santa who was wearing an artificial beard and a cell phone in his hands (that one however he hid quickly). Even before children could have a look at Santa there were signed all over the place that you can take photos with Santa for such and such sums of money. Ahh.. who could be the marketing manager of that place? 😀

Rovaniemi has invested millions into promoting the Santa-story, and therefore it all is still worth seeing. Yet there is a difference between mere commerce and the real feeling, you still expect something for the soul… The story is actually fine, but the telling of the story could be a lot more magical and mystical! I think. From the positive side: the village cafes offer a lot of delicious food, you can purchase various local souvenirs and kill a couple of hours in quite a pleasant way – thus, once you are already there then it is definitely worthwhile paying a visit. Time spent with children and with the family is always wonderful for me and actually ther eare not too many places to see for a family event.

Having seen Santa, we checked in to our hotel — we felt that the “backbone” of our journey had been broken. In our hearts we knew that with great probability the most exciting part of our trip has in Lapland and in Finland overall been seen by this moment, yet rushing ahead of the event I can tell you that it wasn’t so. An abundance of surprises, excitement and discoveries were awaiting us on our trip around Finland! However, we didn’t see reindeer on the side of the road anymore and the hope to see northern lights/aurora borealis dimmed with every kilometre that took us towards Southern Finland.

I had to do some work in the evening to prepare for the next day’s mini-meeting with NordenBladet Southern Finnish team. Ivanka Shoshana (10) started to play with her toys and Estella Elisheva (12) went for a walk in the town on her own. I allowed her to go, provided she stays near the hotel. So she left, the cell phone, two GPS-transmitters and my bank card in the purse. I let her go alone but lectured lengthily about all possible dangers and instisted that she calls every now and then. Estella went to a restaurant to eat a vegan salad and on her way back on my friendly request brought a hamburger for me and Ivanka. Although I had imagined that Rovaniemi would be a lot smaller, it was actually a rather large town – with factories, block houses, broad roads. It was a big city, but the city centre however was really compact – right around the corner from the hotel there were several restaurants and department stores. All the larger and best known good hotelsand reatsaurants were close at hand, not to say they were tightly placed next to each other. We spent two days and two night in Rovaniemi and this time frame was filled with pleasant events.

The next morning we woke up early. The breakfast in the hotel was delightful, as well as the interior design, however, the bed linen turned out to cause allergy to me and Estella. At home I always wash the bed linen with a delicate detergent and rinse so that the linen would finally be completely detergent/chemical free. A night or two in the hotel would also do, but living a life where you travel from one hotel to another like it is usual on a longer journey – this will soon reflect on the skin. I even thought of taking my own bed linen with me nest time I travel. 🙂

I asked the children wheather they would like to see Santa once more, but they didn’t. Then we decided to take a tour in the town and drive around in Rovaniemi. During lunch I had two brief meetings in Rovaniemi – one of them with NordenBladet Northen-Finnish team members and the other one was related with the brand Elisheva & Shoshana. The meetings held abroad always leave an unforgettable impression on me – sometimes I even wish to pinch myself to believe it. To have business network across Scandinavia is a dream come true. It is funny how used to this I am already – the goals set a few years earlier are the reality today. Actualy I am obliged to praise myself, take some time off schedule and enjoy/celebrate!

As in Levi, also in Rovaniemi entrepreneurs organise safaris with husks and reindeer for tourists, there are activities suitable for every age group. The science park and museum in Rovaniemi, Arktikum Science Museum (Pohjoisranta 4, 96200 Rovaniemi), holds interesting events all year round – lectures, market day, even a film festival.

There would have been a lot more to discover in Rovaniemi, I had also two meetings arranged with local representatives on Lapland media, however the hands of the clock are not made from rubber. As in Tornio (read the travel blog HERE), I slightly conflicted my schedule and thus the visit to Daily Finland editorial and the meeting with the editor-in-chief Mister O.H.Ruhin and the plan to schedule a meeting also with the editor-in-chief of Lapin Kansa, A. Kokkonen, due to time restictions, were postponed for the time being. Two days in Rovaniemi passed quickly and the next destination on our journey was Kajaani. About that already in the next blog!

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