Welcome to Part 2 of our wintry adventure! Warning: this post contains a TON of pictures 🙂 After leaving Copenhagen, we headed to Finland, landing in Helsinki first and then continuing on to Rovaniemi, a northern Finish city in the Laplands region.
Click on read about our adventures in Finland!
We landed in Helsinki late at night to a snowy landscape. After waking up (SUPER LATE!) we wandered around the city and enjoyed some winter sun!
The city was quiet and still in a bit of a post-Christmas haze so we were able to mosey without crowds and a ton of other tourists. With no real destinations in mind (and only a half day to explore), we walked along the main streets of the city and found ourselves in a more residential area near the water.
We even found an iced-over hardtop where Omri “skated” a bit!
We took it easy that day in prep for our next adventure: an over-night train to Rovaniemi! Rovaniemi is the “home of Santa Claus” and is in the Arctic Circle and the train ride from Helsinki to Rovaniemi is called the “Santa Claus Express”!
We reserved a sleeper train for our 12 hour ride (yes, 12 hours!) and here is the car (two side-by-side pics below, each of us swapping being the model):
It was T-I-N-Y! Literally it was about the width of two people standing up and those are single bunks (I claimed the bottom one)! We sprung for the ensuite cabin and there was a toilet and a moving wall that blocks off the sink and becomes a shower! Crazy huh? We had dinner on the train (less James Bond-y and more fast-food like) and met up with Eran and Amelia, who were also on the train. There wasn’t a ton to do on the train except attempt to sleep, but that was tough too because of the stops and the feeling like I was going to roll off the bed at any moment. It was an interesting experience, but not one I would do again anytime soon.
The next morning we arrived at Rovaniemi and it was FREEZING! One thing about being so north (66°N!) was that there was only about 3 hours of sunlight! So when we got there at 8 am, it was pitch black out!
And sorry to all my Snap friends, but yes, I loved showing how cold and freezing it was.
We walked (yes, walked in 7°F weather) to meet our apartment host and then went to Santa’s Village to see the home of Santa!
The sun had finally risen and it was clear and chilly. Santa Claus Village is touristy but fun, and had a post office where everything is post-marked Santa’s Village!
They had reindeer sled rides (yes, they are real!) and other fun tourist attractions, but read on to see more about that!
After Santa’s Village we headed back to town and rested up until our next excursion, a reindeer sled ride! We were doing a sled ride at night in an attempt to see the Northern Lights, but alas it was cloudy that night so we didn’t see them.
The sled ride was fun! The reindeer were really gentle and friendly and also sort of old and slow, and it was a nice evening under the stars.
The reindeer were doing all the work so we just sat in the sled under some nice blankets and relaxed.
As some of you may already know, we are big pup enthusiasts. And when I say big, I mean obsessed! So, when we were looking at things to do in Rovaniemi, a husky safari was at the top of our list! The next day we went with a group to a husky farm and went on a 17 km safari, with Omri driving the husky sled!
Prepare yourselves for a ton of husky pics!
I had to contain myself all day to NOT squeal audibly overtime I saw a husky pup (to me, all dogs are “pups”) and say hi and squeeze and hug them. And I emptied my phone and made extra room for all the pics I would be taking this day and still ran out of space (on my phone and Omri’s!).
We went to this husky farm where the guides told us a bit of the huskies and their habits – they are not purebred Siberian Huskies or Malamutes, but are all “Alaskan Huskies” in nature (which isn’t a breed, but just a general type of pup, which is why they all look different) and live to run. They eat a ton of food, mainly the fatty bits of meat, for energy, and can pull something crazy like 4 times their weight. I don’t have exact numbers and facts because my brain was just saying “omg, puppiesssssss” the whole time it made it hard to hear other things :).
Anyways, they taught us how to drive the sleds (I decided to be the passenger) and soon we were off!
The safari was 17km and we were the first sled in the group, which was lucky because we were right behind the guides on the snowmobiles and our pups were extremely fast and excited to say the least. All the husky “teams” are made of different aged and experienced dogs, which they constantly change and re-pair and group so they don’t create cliques or packs. Our team of 4 was made of two really sweet, hard working pup (the ones closest to me) and then two younger, crazy, energetic, lively ones who were in front. They were so energetic and crazy that whenever we took a break, they would come walk over to the sled and say hello to us!
Omri was a great husky musher! There were times where we had to go uphill and he had to “help” the pups by pushing off the sled like a scooter – he was getting quite the workout during the uphills!
All the excursion companies give you TONS of gear to wear on the safaris – basically because any sort of gear you bring is not going to be nearly as warm or waterproof as theirs and they don’t want you to freeze! So over our regular clothes (for me that included Heat Tech long underwear – leggings and a long-sleeved shirt – jeans, a turtleneck wool sweater, my NorthFace Windwall, an overcoat, a scarf, and mittens) we wore extra wool socks, their extreme snow boots, waterproof mittens, a snow jumpsuit, and one of their extra insulated hats! And I even had a blanket over me in the sled! But during this safari I was quite comfortable, whilst Omri was so warm I unzipped all his jackets during the ride!
Check out the video below for a first-person perspective of the sled ride!
The ride was really fun and was the highlight of our trip!
After the sled ride we got to play with the pups and they were super friendly and happy after their run!
We really enjoyed our time in Finland despite the freezing temps and harsh conditions! Come back later this week to read the final installment of our Scandinavian adventure!