In the last update we had just arrived in Karasjok, the place where you can learn more about the Sami culture. Unfortunately, according to the internet, the museum and theme park were closed on Sunday, like everything in Norway. So we decided to have a quiet day today. The weather was really nice, so we put the table and chairs outside and played a game of Catan. Jap does not want to say too much about this, because he lost hopelessly…. In the meantime, a lot of people walked by and everyone said hello and had a chat with us. We both really noticed how relaxed and nice the people are here, maybe because the sun was shining? Jap also saw a lady who was picking red berries, which made Lon curious and so she went to ask what the lady was picking. These turned out to be cranberries and there were really a lot of bushes in the forest completely full of the berries. After the game we went into the forest with bags to pick cranberries as well. The lady also said that you can’t really eat them as they are, but that you should make jam out of them. That was the goal, to pick as much berries that we could make a lot of tasty jam. Besides the cranberries, which we really found in abundance, we also found a lot of large blueberries. We had picked these before, but the berries hanging here were a lot bigger. After walking through the forest for a while and filling our bags, we went back to the bus. Here we had a late lunch with quiche and the rest of the day we mainly sat in the sun and read. Of course we also went looking for the Northern Lights again, but we gave up on that a bit with the idea that we have a good reason to come back again in the winter.
The next day we had two things planned, making jam and learning about the Sami culture. Because we first had to buy some sugar (or actually a lot of it) for the jam, we decided to do some shopping first and then drive to the theme park. Unfortunately, it turned out that the theme park was already closed for the season, they had already closed the park in mid-August this year (just like last year) since there are few tourists due to covid,. We could still walk around the site, but nothing was open inside. We learned some things outside, such as that they already had refrigerators in the past. They built a hut made of earth against a mountain, which they filled with snow in winter, the snow then melted into ice and his ice then kept food cool during the summer. Super smart. But beyond that we couldn’t do much and we decided to change our plan. We were very close to the Finnish border and so we headed for Finland. The border crossing was almost too easy, there were still soldiers on the Norwegian side, from whom we were allowed to drive on, but on the Finnish side there was no one to be seen. We were able to drive on as if there was no border. This surprised us because all the other borders we had passed so far we were checked for Covid. We soon noticed that Finland really resembles Sweden in terms of nature and environment. And that we have missed this nature after the harsh Norwegian mountains. It was really lovely speeding along the straight roads and the rolling hills and we soon parked the bus at a beautiful national park. First we started to make the jam, which was very easy, but Lon spend a lot of time removing the twigs from the berries. In the end we were able to make four jars of jam. It’s really nice to be able to get things like this out of nature. And it tasted really good too. Then we ate some delicious couscous and went for a walk through the woods. It was very nice to be able to walk side by side and chat about anything and everything. We noticed that we missed this type of area very much and we both completely relaxed. It was a really good end to the day.
We got off to a good start the next day with a walk. A walking tour of 2 hours that we could easily do on our sneakers. It was in the same forest as yesterday and it was lovely.
Finland is of course very well known for its saunas, there were also many public saunas and we were looking forward to that. For the afternoon we had arranged a sauna visit, a smoke sauna. It was still two hours away and then we could enter the Sauna around 3 pm and there was also a lovely shower which was highly appreciated. The Sauna was at a large hotel where it was very busy, yesterday I still had the idea that it might be nice and quiet and we might be the only ones. Well when we arrived that ‘hope’ was quickly gone. We were there at 3 p.m ready to go inside and got into the Sauna. It was reasonably small and very dark in the sauna and it did indeed smelled like smoke. There were two buckets with water on the floor with which you could wet the coals so that it became a bit warmer in the sauna. And was it hot, we both really had to get used to this heat, despite the fact that we are quite used to going in the sauna. But it was still perfect. You sat down on a wooden board for hygieneity and in the sauna we were soon surrounded by Finns who all went to the sauna as well. Every now and then someone would throw in a few more scoops of water and we soon started sweating. After we had warmed up in the sauna, it was of course time to cool down. I had already dreaded this a bit because the water was a flowing river and this would off course be quite cold. It was a very nice small lake where you had a nice view of the nature in the area. But it was very cold, I went in first and that was a real challenge. But I got into it, not immediately completely in, but still .. Then it was Jap’s turn, pfff it was really very cold, his calves immediately jumped into a cramp and he had to concentrate really hard to continue walking. His Wim Hof exercises certainly helped, but after he had his breath under control again, he quickly got out. After this we went for another round in the sauna, and thus also into the river again. The second time it was a bit easier but man this is really next level cold. Despite the cold, it remains a wonderful way to cool down after the sauna. So we went for one last round after which we took a nice shower. It was a nice experience to go to the sauna like the Finns. We both felt really relaxed and nice and rosy. We then drove to a place to sleep and made our own pasta. After that we read a lot and fell asleep very relaxed.
Today we drove some kilometers again and towards a national park. Even though our trip to Spain has started, we stay a little longer in Finnish lapland because it’s almost Jap’s birthday and I have organized something around here. So we take it easy before the real work starts. Along the way we stopped at a coffee shop where we ate something sweet, they have a lot of cafes along the road, often with a souvenir shop and they always have a very typical appearance. Yes, Jap was curious what this looked like on the inside but secretly he also just felt like something sweet ?. After that we did some shopping, finally another Lidl with more normal prices than in Norway. And then we drove on to the visitor center of the Pyhä-Luosto National Park where we went for a walk. I’ve been having pain in my hip while walking for a while so we’re taking it a little easier. We walked through a beautiful forest where the undergrowth was occasionally really beautifully red and then on a board walk through a swamp with beautiful colors. It was really beautiful and we came across cute curious birds and a squirrel along the way. We were soon back at the car and we found a great place to stay in the area close to walks for tomorrow. While cooking dinner, the gas bottle ran out…. Well great…. Fortunately the food was already quite warm and we could just eat it. But baking cake for Jap’s birthday or eating pancakes will probably not happen. The first opportunity to refill it is around Helsinki. Fortunately we are here soon, probably a day after Jap’s birthday. Later in the evening we were also told that there is a high chance of seeing the aurora again. So we sat outside around 11 o’clock with our sleeping bags and the cameras at the ready. Hopefully it will work this time.
Well we did it, we saw the northern lights. We spent most of the night outside in our sleeping bags with hats on and some schnapps in our hand, but we were able to see the green light. And it was really really beautiful! We were able to see it very strongly at the beginning of the evening, but unfortunately the clouds were still present. But after a few hours, the sky suddenly opened up and we were also able to see a lot of stars. It was beautiful and very special. It must have looked funny I think, two of those mummies packed in their sleeping bags with a headlamp on. But we weren’t cold at all! We only went to sleep around 3 o’clock and we were able to take great pictures.
In the morning we took it easy and after that we went looking for a restaurant to use the internet. This was mainly because we both have little internet and we again wanted to upload some stuff and put the last update online. We managed to share our first movie of Sweden with everyone, which we’ve been working on for quite some time. Because it’s Jap’s birthday tomorrow I had to make some preparations for this and that was a bit easier if Jap stayed well in the restaurant. Like every year, we organize a surprise for each other. Although I must say that it is quite a challenge to organize a surprise when you are on each other’s lips 24/7. But around 4 pm we got in the car towards an unknown place. This turned out to be a place to sleep at the waterside, but Jap still didn’t know where he was and what we were going to do tomorrow. In the evening Jens and Marijn also came, who we had met before but then decided to drive their car into the ditch .. And so we kindly asked them if we could warm up our dinner in their bus since we still had no gas. We also shared all our adventures of the past few weeks and in the evening we also played a game and chatted. Of course there was also some singing when it turned twelve o’clock and Jap’s birthday had officially started and we quickly went to bed.
Today is the day… My birthday has arrived and I can finally know what we are going to do. In the morning I received a card from Lon with an extensive day planning and hints, riddles and rebuses with coordinates for what we are going to do. Super fun and it promises to be a beautiful day. The morning started well with a pancake breakfast together with Jens and Marijn. Then we headed for the first location, the place where Santa Claus lives. However, I had to bring hiking boots, hiking clothes, water and my camera so I don’t know if it would be a simple visit to Santa Claus. That was indeed true, because we were met by Alex who took us in his car to a place on his private property. On the way I found out what we were going to do there, because he is a guide and went to pick mushrooms with us. Super cool! We always thought it would be nice to be able to pick more in the forest, but mushrooms in particular we didn’t want to burn our hands on. But with a guide and some more explanation we can hopefully do it again ourselves. We received an extensive explanation and he showed, told us what to watch out for and then we were released into the woods. Especially in the beginning we often asked whether we had the right mushroom and whether it was edible or not. However, we were soon able to discover for ourselves which mushrooms we should have and we were also able to see whether they were not too old. We found huge mushrooms and a lot, we mainly picked bolletus mushrooms and can now recognize them well. The most important thing he told us is if a mushroom looks like it wants to kill you, then at least you shouldn’t eat it, hahah. After we were done picking he also showed us all the buildings that are on the land and told us about the land. He is a really nice man, who is originally from Russia, and learned a lot about mushrooms there, but has been living in Finland for 20 years now. He also prepared mushrooms for us, with potatoes and bread for lunch which was really delicious, after which we returned 4 hours later where we started, with Santa Claus. Alex had taught us a lot and we also got a whole load of mushrooms to take home. It was really nice to learn about this and we will definitely try to look for mushrooms more often. Because we were there now, we also went to see Santa Claus. You can take a picture with him here and have a chat with him. So this gentleman is chatting with people from 10 a.m. to 3 a.m. and taking a picture with them… what a job haha. It is all very funny and he even speaks a small word of Dutch. The rooms all look very nicely decorated, it gives you a bit of an Efteling atmosphere. Fun fact, or actually a bit weird: there are two Santas in the village where you can take a picture with them. One, the one we’ve been to is believed to be the real one, but there’s another one at a souvenir shop. Unfortunately, this causes some confusion and tears for many children, so not very smartly arranged. Another thing, we didn’t buy the picture with Santa Claus.. You can take a picture with him for free but if you want the picture you have to pay for it. Logical of course. But what do you think that costs? We thought a maximum of 20 euros, that seemed like a lot to us.. Well it’s double that.. It shouldn’t surprise us anymore, but it did. We also walked over the Arctic Circle, because it runs through the Santa Claus village here and then got in the car to the next place. It turned out to be the center of Rovaniemi where we parked the car and continued on foot. We eventually ended up at a bakery where Lon had ordered a cake for my birthday. Super sweet. We took this one with us and we walked back to the next activity, which was a Boutique hotel, Haawe, where we will spend the night. So we didn’t sleep in Bob for a night, but in a real bed, it turned out to be a really nice hotel with a really nice room. We not only had a bath, but also a shower and….best of all…..a private sauna..amazing! It was really a super nice spacious suite and there was even a breakfast for tomorrow morning in the fridge. After we enjoyed a lovely shower and bath here, and freshened up, we went on our way to the last activity. The last activity was a delicious 5-course dinner at a fancy restaurant. Here we could have a vegan five-course dinner and we had a really delicious meal. At the end of this fantastic day we had to make use of the sauna in our room and that was a really great ending. It felt like over the top luxury after traveling around in a camper for so long.
Because we only had to be out of our hotel room at 11.30 am, we took plenty of time in the morning to sleep in and have breakfast in bed. We also took a nice bath before we gathered all our things and put them in Bob. Our gas is still out and we really want to drive quite a bit today, so we decided to walk into town and have some lunch. There also turned out to be a market in Rovaniemi that was really big and mainly revolved around food. As vegetarians, we could only find little tasty here, so we ended up in a Vietnamese restaurant where we ate well. After that, we felt we could really start the journey to southern Spain. We will be covering a lot of miles in just under a month. And to get this off to a good start, we decided to drive as far as we could to Helsinki. We found a place to sleep about 800 km away. In the end we were on the road for about 10 hours before we arrived here around 23:30. Along the way we listened to a book by Tamar Valkenier about her adventures around the world, which we could almost listen whole during that time. Once at the sleeping place, we were both quite broken and we quickly dived into bed. It is already a foretaste for the days that we will be making a lot in the coming month.
Menu of the week
|Couscous with Eggplant
|Left-over Pho Soup
|Salad with Salmon, apple and chick peas
Spendings of the Week
Budget per day €54 and per week €378 and per month €1700
Driven kilometers: 1497