Lapland home of Santa

Trip Start Jun 26, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Rovaniemi is located at the confluence of two large rivers, the most important transport routes at the time, Rovaniemi began to adopt the role of the "gateway to Lapland. The exploitation of Lapland's natural resources in the 1800s boosted Rovaniemi's growth. Extensive logging sites and gold fever attracted thousands of people to Lapland. As the mining of natural resources was increased, Rovaniemi became the business centre of the Province of Lapland.

In the Lapland War, during the Second World War, approximately 90% of the total property in the town was destroyed by German troops. The rebuilding of Rovaniemi began in 1946 and can still be seen today as the builders make the most of Rovaniemi short summers. Nowadays Rovaniemi relies on tourism and is now the gateway to seeing Santa Claus and his reindeers. 
This may seem pathetic for a 25 year old boy but the aim of this trip is to catch Mr S Claus at home with Rudolph and tell him to bring any Xmas gifts to New Zealand this Christmas. I promise i'll be good!!

I arrived in Rovaniemi very refreshed after spending the night in a sleeper carriage for the long 14 hours train journey from Turku. For 12 Euros with a rail pass (you won't find a better bargain than this in Scandinavia!!) you can get a triple bunk sleeper although the top bunk is not for those who suffer from vertigo and those who roll around alot in bed with a 2 metre drop to the floor. Somehow I manage to stay in the top bunk all night despite suffering from the above fears.
The main tourist attraction at Rovaniemi is Santa's Village and Santa Park located 8km north on the Arctic Circle line and is a mere 40 minutes trip on the No. 8 bus. Do expect Santa Village to be a disappointment, mostly souvenirs shops, Santa's post office and an expensive photo shoot with Santa. Although you can stand over the Arctic Circle, walk through the Christmas museum or take a short stroll to Santa Claus Forest through the pine trees, bogs, mushrooms and the berry of Lapland. May have been better if Santa park was open and if I saw Rudolph and a few of his reindeer friends.

Rovaniemi - Santa's Village, Rovaniemi, Finland
The entrance to Santa's Village

Rovaniemi - The Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi, Finland
The Arctic Circle - 66^ 32' 35''

After a few hours, I have had enough of this village and strengthens my notion that nowadays Christmas is too commercialized. So I head back to Rovaniemi.

Being me, I can be a recipe for disaster and always seem to misplace/lose things. So I wasn't surprised to find I had left my passport and my train pass on the No.8 bus. The cursing has well and truly started as I stampede around town trying to find the bus station. This is not easy when everything is in Finnish and when I do find the bus station the lass working didn't understand English and very very unhelpful, bear in mind it is now approaching closing time and all she wants to do is go home. So I end up running back to the train station where the bus stop is to try and catch the No.8 bus again. Unfortunately the drivers English was also limited but he did grasp the word Passport and phoned the Bus Depot, where luckily my passport was being stored. So the driver diverts his bus route to go to the bus depot as he speeds through the windy roads, picked up my belongings and drops me back off at the train station before continuing his bus route 15 minutes late.
So Santa if you are reading this I forfeit my Xmas gifts, give them to that Bus driver and his family

The rest of the time was spent wandering around Rovaniemi, from the University of Lapland (where the Christmas elves must graduate from) to the River. The town itself is not very pretty with lots of construction work going on and the presence of lots of ugly buildings built quickly after WWII. Just to cap today off, I get soaked by the rain as the weather rapidly changed but I won't complain as I walk back to the train station to catch my night train with my passport and train pass secured safely in my trouser pocket. 

Road works on a crossroad in Rovaniemi, one of many reconstruction jobs happening in this town.
   Rovaniemi - building work, Rovaniemi, Finland
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