Märkko Alsopinen in Finland

Trip Start May 01, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Finland  , Lapland,
Wednesday, July 22, 2009

After breakfast we headed off from our last night in Norway, with our destination being Rovaniemi in Finland.

We saw a lot more Reindeer today, and Stu the vet made a good attempt to catch one but had no luck.

We drove past more coastal scenery today, then crossed the border into Finland. As this was the first time I had driven from one country to another, I was surprised that we simply drove across a small bridge, without stopping...and besides the 'goods to declare' and 'no goods to declare' queues, there was no real border control or anything...and that meant I didn't get my passport stamped! Dammit.

We stopped at Santa's Village today, for a free tour of his home on the arctic circle. It was all a bit weird, inside it felt more like it should have been a haunted house, and outside it felt like an abandoned theme park. We had our photo taken with Santa, but the tour itself had more to do with a machine regulating the rotation of the Earth than christmas etc...so it felt a bit strange.

The scenery in Finland was a bit of a let down after Norway to be honest, as it was all pretty much flat, with straight roads lined by trees the entire way. We came across the odd lake here and there, and while these were quite nice to look at, once we had seen 10 or 11 they all started to look pretty much the same.

We stopped at some shops where I bought a small bottle of Wodka. As we were now in Finland and were spending Euros rather than Norwegian Kroner it was a lot cheaper which was a welcome change.

As this was my last day in Norway...

A few facts about Norway:

-Oslo, the capital city of Norway, has topped surveys in the past of being the worlds most expensive city...and it's not hard to see why! Burger King that costs 3-4 times as much as in NZ, $17 beers from a pub and $10 for an embroidered patch all add up to an expensive stay when visiting from NZ.

-Buying alcohol is a bit different from in New Zealand. The tax applied to alcohol varies depending on the alcohol content, so buying a bottle of spirits becomes quite expensive, though it can still work out cheaper per drink than beers. Beer and cider can be bought from supermarkets, but only before 8pm, and wine and spirits can only be sold by government controlled liquor shops which close at 5pm on week days, and 2pm on weekends.
A bottle of beer in a shop costs around NZ$10 each, and premixed drinks are about the same.

-When buying a bottle of soft drink from a shop, you actually pay a bit more (I think 2.5 Kroner) on top of the advertised price, which is then refunded when you take the bottle back to a shop or special recycling machine.

-Norway is larger in area than Germany, and has over 83,000km of coastline. It's population is about 4.8 million, so roughly the same as New Zealand, but the population of Oslo, it's largest city is only around 550,000.

-Norway has the 2nd highest per person GDP in the world.
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