Visiting Santa

Our time in Rovaniemi was drawing to a close. For our final day, we went to Santa’s village in the Arctic Circle. The regular Santa’s Bus takes about 40 minutes from the train station to reach the village.

On arriving, we went in the first building we saw, which happen to have the line marking the latitude of the Arctic Circle. Technically, I read, this is not the Arctic Circle, which is a few hundred metres away in the airport. It was close enough for those who noticed it (most didn’t) to take a selfie.

We’d waited until getting to Santa’s post office before sending any postcards from Finland. It’s unusual to send or receive cards in this digital era but we enjoyed writing our cards and carefully sticking on the special Santa stamps! Even better, the post office had two mailboxes: one to post immediately, the other reserved for a magical Christmas delivery!

Our main task done, we walked around the village then wandered beyond the bustling centre. Although commercial, the village, with evergreen trees and wooden buildings covered in freshly fallen snow, was a sparkling sight.

On returning to the village centre, we found the food choices unappetizing. So, we decided to return to the town centre for lunch.

Santa’s Bus took us back to Rovaniemi and we went to a cafe recommended by Culture Trip. It was a relaxing, trendy cafe that accommodated families. We both plumped for the burgers and chips.

After eating, we read our books. We had plenty of time before our evening train. Whilst reading, Helene realised that we hadn’t seen the nearby riverfront. So we left the cafe for our final bit of exploration.

We walked along the snowy riverside, first seeing a wall of metre-high snow separating the footpath from the river. Snow on the path rose to the height of the benches, rendering them unusable. Thick blankets of snow sometimes obscured the boundary between land and water, except in a few places where there were warnings of thin ice. This did not deter skiers, some of whom were being pulled along by their dogs!

After our bracing walk, we returned to our guesthouse to pick up our luggage and got talking to Matti, who was on duty the night we checked in. He was curious about our impression of the town. In turn, we learnt that he was born in Rovaniemi and liked to ski but preferred the warmth of summer, which was all too short in Finland. He fondly reminisced about a trip to Spain when the temperature was, for him, an astounding 36°C!

We didn’t see the Northern Lights (I’d seen them twice in Iceland) but asked Matti if he ever saw them. He looked a bit puzzled then replied that he saw the Lights almost every day. We realised that they were such a regular sight for him that they ceased to be anything special!

The train station was close to the guesthouse, and it was our last bit of walking on the precarious snow. That was something we were happy to see the back of even though we were blessed with fresh snow for the last two days.

We had a drink in the warm cafe/restaurant whilst waiting for the train. We soon boarded our train and found our spacious cabin in the sleeper train. In twelve hours, we’d be back in Helsinki.

Leave a Reply