What the blinking heck was that? We jumped out of bed just at the next roar of thunder bounced above us. As we jumped out, Tosh jumped in. He took one almighty leap from mid Vin, launched himself in the air and landed straight on our bed. Bearing in mind our bed is several feet off the floor that is some leap for a dachshund. Mac followed suit but being a clumsy bugger he bounced off every panel and nearly broke his neck. The thunder and lightening show began.
We made a cuppa, the weather worsened, so we sat watching the driving rain blow across the car park. Beyond the tree tops the skies darkened and soon we were engulfed in an electric storm cloud. All the little mice were scurrying across the car park in need of urgent shelter….our German neighbour’s waste pipe! Next minute vin the motorhome was rocked sharply sideways with a gust of wind. We held the dogs tight, snuggled up…time to ride the storm folks!
Up until now we had always thought that Lapland was a rather a cold region with cool summers and freezing winters. I can tell you now that this is not the case. Once the storm passed the weather returned to a hot and steamy summers day. The heatwave was in full swing and by 10am it was in excess of ninety degrees. If you close the windows you bake but if you leave them open every blinking mosquito in a 50 mile radius decides to join you. Time for a walk covered in repellant.
By 10.15 we were at the Arctic Line having our photos taken with Santa’s elves. Well, I was, Craig became all macho and refused to join in the Santa fun. Then off in to Santa’s grotto, down a long tunnel and in to the centre of the earth’s gravitational pull. Wow its Santa time but sadly no photo’s allowed, sigh. I did ask Santa to write to two special little boys but only if they are good! So Ollie Pops and Lucas…Santa is watching! With a hop, skip and a jump we dashed over to the post office to deliver our Christmas cards before wandering around the shops.
After lunch, we drove in to the centre of Rovaniemi where they are currently undergoing a massive road and network system. This is all driven by the fact that Rovaniemi has seen a large increase in tourism in the last few years. The increase from all over Europe especially at Christmas time, has placed a strain on the area but good to see they are investing in a good road infrastructure and upgrading their airport runway and terminal. In addition, new hotels and unique experiences are springing up all over the show but if you go to Angry Birds Park don’t build your hopes up, it looked a little worse for wear. The comprehensive town centre offered a number of local and tourist shops with plenty restaurants and cafes.
We parked up at the Rovaniemi church, climbed over all the road works and made our way to the parish church. The ‘receptionist’ was lovely. The church was built in 1950 to replace the one destroyed during the war and it stands on the same spot where the 3 previous churches had stood. The interior was simple but elegant with paintings on the pillars and ceiling and a ‘fountain of life’ on the alter.
Outside the gardens and cemetery were undergoing a tidy up. Four young ladies busy trimming the lawns and planting new flowers. As we walked further in to the gardens we noticed a war memorial between several war grave rows. When the Nazis began their retreat from Lapland in 1944, they burned the town of Rovaniemi including its rail network and communications centre. The Finnish sisu – courage and bravery against overwhelming odds, meant the town was rebuilt in no time. This time however, the road system was designed around and represented reindeer antlers.
Todays highlight though is the avant-garde Artikum Museum, which is devoted to the people and culture of the region. An ice tunnel, exceptional exhibitions and interactive museum covering the arctic circle and the Sami people. We avoided all the other museums in the region because this is regarded as the best in Scandinavia. The entrance was impressive with large atrium and selection of authentic crafts, we paid our €12 pp fee and stepped inside.
Once inside the exhibition room it went drown hill rapid and we would go as far to say it is the most badly kept museum we have visited in Europe. And that is a bold statement but it was horrendous. We walked around completely shocked at how unloved and unattended this place is. More than half of the interactive activities did not work, the buttons were broke or screens blank. Exhibition tanks were empty. Light were missing so you couldn’t read the text. I could go on and on. It really did feel like this place has not been touched since it opened and now, the majority of stuff was in need of repair or plenty TLC.
This once best museum in all of Scandinavia has certainly had its heyday. In fact, we were so disappointed I went and asked for my money back. Something which took quite a bit of courage but it was the right thing to do. Its only through constructive feedback that they can change.
We’d parked up at the waters edge and right next door to a ‘rug wash’. Apparently, they are a popular site in Finland and the main place to head to, to clean your rug. The community set up with troughs, water, scrubbing board, mangle and drying racks is certainly a busy place. People came and went all the time to either wash their rug or collecting their dried rug. It was brilliant place to people watch and see a little of the Finnish culture. Mac n Tosh however, enjoyed their run in the dog area, chasing their ball and rolling around in the sand.
Our plan was to stay here tonight but the heat and the mosquito’s got a little too much. As a result, we took the opportunity to move further south in the hope we could escape the swarms of mosquitos from the swampy tundra.
We drove and drove through the land of forest and reindeer. We followed the GPS for an ‘all the aires’ spot and arrived at a crematorium. The grounds were nice and the car park was quiet, so potentially a good place to sleep but somehow it didn’t feel right. We moved on until we hit the town of Kemi. We immediately spotted a lovely spot right on the marina. A quick stroll with the dudes before calling it quits.
Our sleepy spot tonight Kemi marina with a beautiful amber coloured sky.
Wild Camping GPS position N065.730274 E024.552406
Route: Napaiiri to Kemi
Weather: Low 20, High 34 thunder to heatwave…only in Finland