Dear Diary| Snowmobile Safari to reindeer camp on Christmas Eve | 24 December 2015
Good morning fellow travelers! And I am saying good morning because now that I am writing to you it is 6 in the morning, and I am at the airport of Helsinki waiting for the flight to Oulu, which departs at 7:00. I thought to write a few words before boarding, now that I have some time.
I arrived in Helsinki yesterday afternoon and had the shock of my life! I had heard stories about the beautiful daughter of the Baltics, a city which Christmas finds every year dressed in white! Well, it wasn’t dressed in white, and the sea wasn’t frozen! The temperature, as we speak is at 6 degrees Celsius. The Finns would call it “summer”! At least the weather spared us, and it didn’t rain, so we enjoyed our afternoon stroll without having to worry about possible rain. This temperature is unheard of this time of year in Helsinki, but also the whole of Finland. Are we lucky or unlucky for having encountered this kind of weather? It will show.
It was 4 in the afternoon and the sun had set. It gets dark early here in the north. And the sun rises very late (if it rises at all) in the morning. To cut a long story short, after checking in at the hotel, which overlooks the city port, we went out for a bite. We learnt that the Finns prefer restaurants which serve a buffet, since they are far more economical. The service at cafes and everywhere else costs an arm and a leg. So, we followed their example and chose a small pizza house, where you could eat as much pizza, soup and salad as you wished for 7,99 euro. The truth is I would have liked to taste some local cuisine, but I was so tired from the flights that I didn’t have the strength to search for restaurants, so I decided to put it off for the time being.
No need to mention that as soon as I returned to the hotel, I slept like a log. And here I am now, on the plane, flying to Oulu. Oulu is the fifth largest city in Finland and it is located north, just an hour away from Helsinki. Like Athens – Thessaloniki! The day has a lot in store for us!
We are here! At last we see snow. It seems that we will finally have a white Christmas. What a beautiful, white landscape! Strange as it may seem, I am not as cold as I thought I would be. It looks as if the three leggings and the five coats of clothing I have on are enough. It is 9 and it is still dark. Firstly, we will head for the city, 12 kilometers from the airport, to the central market to drink something warm. Today, all shops are closed in Finland. Everyone is celebrating Christmas Eve with their families. The only place open today is Kauppahalli, the central market.
I set out to get some coffee and ended up eating rice pudding! I saw a gentleman holding a plate full of a white mixture, which looked a lot like rice pudding, and I asked him what he was eating. Since he didn’t speak English, the man just uttered one word “Yummy!”. It was all he had to say. In five minutes I had my own steamy plate. Indeed, it was yummy!
We arrived at Kemi after an hour and a half, and we immediately headed for the local office, where we were provided with special suits, which would protect us from the cold in the following days. The office is just a few meters off the hotel where we are going to spend the night. We got our suits, we dashed to the hotel to leave our suitcases, and after that we went to the reindeer farm with Marco from Lapponia Safaris, who would escort us for the rest of the day. There, we will get our snowmobiles for a safari in the icy forests of northern Finland.
Extraordinary! I am more than excited! I have now discovered what I was made for! Wild nature, frozen sea, snow everywhere! I couldn’t get enough of this unique landscape! And driving the snowmobile into these surroundings is simply an experience I cannot describe. Since we already were at the reindeer farm, we decided to take advantage of the situation. We went on a sledge and let the reindeer – a spitting image of Sven from the movie Frozen!- take us on a short ride.
You should see what I see now. The possibility of seeing the northern lights may be slim, but at least we got the next best thing! The stunning full moon, which casts its light on this snowy landscape, and makes everything sparkle as if it is covered with diamonds. Just magical. I wish my camera could capture what I see now in front of my eyes.
I have to go now because I am getting sentimental. For the time being, I will stay here admiring the magical sky in perfect silence.
Read here all about my meeting with Santa Claus in his office in Rovaniemi, Finland!