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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Lapping it up

Baltic Amber in the Great White Nordic

As it was a Monday and we would be returning on Wednesday, our hotel in Helsinki kindly let us keep our one large suitcase in their care for the two days that we would be up near the Arctic Circle, thus saving us a few Euros on baggage fees with Finnair. It was snowing that morning as we checked out - snow, in fact, would be a constant companion for the remainder of our trip to Finland and Estonia. Nevertheless, it wasn't too difficult walking to the train station in central Helsinki:


We did have to make a dash to the airport train, however, to get out of the snow:


Killing time Finnish-style at the airport, with a shot of caffeine and a pulla (a cardamon-flavored bun):


A reindeer pelt on sale at an airport gift shop. I seriously wanted to purchase one to use as a cover on the back seat of our Honda Accord, but my daughter and wife were opposed to this idea for some unfathomable reason:


The plane that would take us from Helsinki to Rovaniemi. I've taken off and landed in snowy conditions in the past, but this would be the first time I was in an airplane that to wait its turn to be de-iced on the runway before taking off:


Flying out of Helsinki on the 80-minute flight to Rovaniemi:


A minibus dropped us off at our accommodations, the family-run Guesthouse Borealis. It didn't look like much on the outside, but we had a nice self-contained apartment large enough for six, with its own kitchen and sauna:


Rovanimei (population: 61,000) is the capital of Finnish Lapland, the Nordic region that is home to the aurora borealis, the midnight sun, the Sámi peoples, reindeer and Santa Claus. Lapland is a vast area comprising 30% of Finland's land area but only 3% of the country's population. Rovaniemi serves as the region's main gateway, and the Arctic Circle is only a few kilometers from the city center. Needless to say, there was a lot of snow on the ground. Amber quickly adapted to conditions in Rovaniemi:


We spent the afternoon and early evening exploring the downtown area. Yaktrax proved to be a sound investment yet again:


Shu-E checks out a stand selling products made from reindeer antlers:


The Jätkänkynttilä Bridge spanning the frozen-over Kemijoki river:


The thermometer reads -7° Celsius (19° Fahrenheit) - this would the warmest it would get during our three days and two nights in Rovaniemi:


For dinner we went to Nili, a popular Finnish restaurant with a Lapland theme:


I began with the Lappish Blini (served with pearl onion, sour cream and codfish roe), following it with salmon and finishing off with an all-blueberry trio of ice cream, meringue and tartlet (not pictured). The bear roast was tempting, but the price was off-putting:



And beer, of course:


Back out into the crisp evening air and the walk back to the guesthouse:


Amber and I took turns using the sauna, with my daughter lasting a lot longer than I could in the steamy cubicle. When in Finland, Amber did much better than me in doing as the Finns:


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