Finland 2014: Rovaniemi

Yesterday I went into town because I haven’t actually done that yet. Finished with town in less than ten minutes. There’s not much there and what there was appeared to be half-closed. I found myself at the river again – even prettier now because it’s frozen. Or at least, it’s frozen down by the barbecue hut and it’s semi frozen further up – great big sheets of ice flowing down the river and crashing into others and it was all very wintery and very dramatic and I stood there for so long that I nearly froze over.

I decided to warm up at Arktikum, the polar museum which appeared to be just around the next river bend. Well, it is but it’s not accessible from there by foot. I had to cross a fairly major road junction which is not meant for pedestrians.

Arktikum is not hugely exciting. I lay in the Aurora Theatre and watched the Northern Lights and the Finnish and Inuit beliefs about them and then wandered around the western exhibition room, which is on at least two floors with a sloping walkway and covers everything from animal fur to oil to indigenous populations to sledge-building.

The eastern gallery has a display of Sami clothes and possessions and jewellery upstairs, a gallery about two local women and then downstairs various Lapland-themed things – more Sami, some stuffed animals (the moose is enormous!), a petrol station cafe (important social gathering place up here), Bronze Age artefacts, display about the war etc.

By the time I trudged through town to get home, the sun was setting and I followed a road pointing directly at the setting sun. I could hear cars but I couldn’t see them coming at me. Found the town centre fairly easily – the shopping centre is next to the sports centre and that’s just next to the big roundabout and my supermarket and then home is just a few minutes further on.

Getting to the airport is entertaining. There does appear to be a bus running Sundays at the right time but I’m not sure it runs today. There doesn’t seem to be a dedicated “airport bus”. So I called (for booking online needs to be done 24 hours in advance) the airport taxi people. €7 seems reasonable, that’s how much I’d expect the bus to be. They’re going to pick me up at 9.30am which strikes me as a bit late for a 10.45am flight but they know best. After all, Rovaniemi airport is unlikely to be on the same scale as Heathrow.

I woke up this morning to snow. And my room being very hot. This place is interesting. No bin in the room, it feels weird disposing of cheese and chocolate wrappers in the bathroom, no TV (not that I’d be watching it but I like it to be there), the communal kitchen closes at 9pm, which is a bit early. Reception, supposedly open 7.30am to 9pm is never open during the day and I don’t think I’ve ever been able to just open the door and come in. I have a key obviously so I can get in but it feels weird to have to use it every single time. Every day there’s a note on the front door – “if you have a reservation, check the mailbox behind you”. Do they really never ever greet a guest personally? I know I was an exception because I arrived pretty late but it kind of looks like letting yourself in is normal.

And now, to the airport!