October 10, 2014

Road Trip To The Arctic Circle & Beyond

My brother Karl came to see us in Finland.  He arrived last Saturday and we have been busy ever since!  Sam and his team were going to be away in the Czech Republic for a couple of days, so we decided to plan a trip!

A rough idea of our route. 
In our planning process it seemed like everything was ridiculously far away, and it was.  We wanted to see Finland, to go north to the Arctic Circle, see the official hometown of Santa Claus, take in the beauty of the nature, go to a Lapland national park, and hike.  Karl also wanted to eat and drink as many strange things as possible.  Success, we did it all!  

We headed out on Monday morning and drove from Lappeenranta to Ruka (approximately 9.5 hours of driving).  Ruka is a beautiful ski town just south of the national park we were going to in the morning.  We found a beautiful log cabin with a sauna and fireplace and enough beds to sleep a small hockey team for the three of us the first night (Karl, Raylan and I).  For dinner we went to a nice restaurant in the ski resort part of town and ate some traditional dishes.  For me reindeer, and for Karl Vendace, here is a blog I found about this traditional Finnish dish.  

The first days drive had a few unique experiences.  We saw snow and purple trees.  While driving in the middle of nowhere we saw over 1,000 'quiet people/scarecrows' just on the side of the road.  Totally creepy, naturally Karl pulled into the parking lot.  Raylan was TERRIFIED at first barking and being tough... then she saw they were just pretend people and went back to being normal.  You have to look at the link here to see how strange these 'quiet people' are.  Even the name scares me.  We also ran into a few unusual roadblocks... reindeer.  Reindeer everywhere, just standing in the road and slightly off to the side.  We saw this three or four times during our drive. 

More Reindeer.

The beautiful log cabin in Ruka.  

Our awesome car, team logos INCLUDED! 

Tuesday, we left our cabin pretty early and headed up to Oulanka National Park to go hiking.  The longest day hike they had at the centrally located place in the park was 8 kilometers, we quickly did that.  Then to get to the more northern part of the park for another 8 kilometer hike we had to drive about 45 more minutes, on quite small roads.  Both hikes were STUNNING!  I will be creating a post all about that park in the coming weeks.  After our hiking we drove to Rovaniemi.  Rovaniemi is all I have heard about to go see in Finland ever since I arrived, so we HAD to go there.  It is the official hometown of Santa, and I love everything about Christmas so I was very excited to get there.  We took a route that went further north than we had to, just to spend more time north of the Arctic Circle. We rented a cabin for the night and arrived just in time to watch the last period of Sam's game online. We then drove into town for some of the best Tex-Mex I have eaten in my life.. we were hungry hikers! 

Our Cabin in Rovaniemi
Wednesday we got to Christmas Village right away... we found a lot of gift shops... and eventually Santa!  We also got to sit by him awkwardly and get our picture taken!  He must have been the real santa, because he didn't even ask me what I wanted.  I think he just knew.  Twenty five euro later, we walked out with our picture with Santa.  I will be creating a post on Rovaniemi in the coming weeks. The coolest part of the little village was the official arctic circle line.  Wall Drug to the midwest, is what Rovaniemi is to Finland.  At least that is my opinion.  Great place to get a souvenir or five.   From there we drove to Oulu.  We spent a couple of hours walking around the town and had lunch. We went into a market down by the harbor and bought a few more souvenirs.  After that it all went south, for about ten hours.  We arrived back home in Lappeenranta around midnight, it felt good to be 'home'.

Raylan 'chilling' on the Arctic Circle.

Harbor in Oulu

Market in Oulu 

Its not every day you get to road trip with your brother through lapland, we had so much fun together and a wonderful experience.  We love Finland!  


  1. One of your best written posts, so fun to read! Now I want to go there - will you take me if I come to visit? Love, Mommy

    1. Thanks! Of course we can go! Unless there is too much snow to drive! :/ Come visit!