Finlandia August 22 -2022

This morning we left Saariselka and caught the bus to Inari – about 40 kilometers further north in Lapland. Inari has a cultural centre and a museum dedicated to the traditional culture of the original indigineous inhabitants of Lapland, the Sami people.

Departing Saariselka, we were met by the same kind of scenery we had most of the way to Saariselka: forests. At two places, the traffic was brought to a halt because of reindeer on the highway, in one case a whole family of them with young ones.

Arriving in Inari, a town with a population of about 300, we checked in to our accomodation, which was one of row of small houses/huts at the edge of a lake in a kind of tourist park. Just outside the office was a modern replica of a Sami tent which is identical to the tepee which was used by the indigineous inhabitants of northern America (the so-called ‘red indians’). 



Then we went into the town with the idea of getting a meal at the local hotel. One look at the menu convinced us to go the supermarket instead (we have cooking facilities in our hut): besides the prices, it was unfortunately pretty standard fair for Finland: reindeer, fish, pizza and hamburgers. 

I was expecting/hoping to see some of the Sami people, but there are only a few individuals here amongst the overwhelmingly Finnish population – despite the cultural centre and musuem. Either they are living further out of town, or, they have integrated with the local Finnish population.

A strange situation really: I’m interested in the Sami culture and how they lived their traditional life style – especially in a part of the world with such extreme winters – but I also want to see Sami people in today’s Finish society.  

We are staying here for two days and doing some walking, before heading further north to Utsjoki, a town near the border of Norway.

Perhaps here we will find a community of Sami here……

The sami were reindeer herders, their herds often having hundreds of animals.  



Finlandia August 18-21

From Rovaniemi we took the bus to a place in the north called Saariselka, where we had booked a small pine wood hut.

The journey took almost 4 hours and the whole way we drove passed forests, with now and then a small town or a few houses. Amazing to see this after living in a heavily populated nation like The Netherlands. On the way we saw our first reindeer, for us something really exciting but for the locals, nothing unusual. 

From the map, Saariselka looked like a town but actually it was one large concentration of bungalows and shops – a kind of big holiday park. However it was close to a large national park with some excellent walking trails – and beautiful scenery. 







We were hoping to see some reindeer during our walks but no such luck. The closest we got was on the road near the main drag of the holiday camp, where the restuarants and bars could be found:


Somewhat ominously, on the other side of the road was reindeer burger outlet, its symbol a burger with antlers: 





Finlandia – August 16 -18 2022

We spent two days in Rovaniemi, walking around the city and doing a long walk into the nearby hills. It was a strange city, hardly alluring yet it had its own kind of atmosphere. Whilst it is a large city by Finnish standards – population 60,000 – in the centre the streets were strangely deserted with only a few pedestrians. 

To our great surprise, we passed an Indian Restuarant – and went inside – and the food was absolutely authentically Indian. Being vegetarians, we didn’t try the restuarant’s star item – Reindeer Curry. The proprietor hailed from Kolkata and he told us that his favourite season was winter. A strange preference perhaps for a man used to heat.  



We didn’t visit the Paha Kurki Rockhouse but I could appreciate its claim to fame…..




Finlandia – August 15, 2022

We flew into Helsinki and spent a night there at a hotel located in the outskirts. We were pretty tired after standing in the long cues at Schiphol airport before being able to board our flight. On the following morning it was back to the Helsinki airport go get a  flight to Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland and situated in the south of that northernmost region of Finland.

As we came into land, there was a fine view of the landscape – and all of a sudden, it dawned on me that we were now in a different country, an immense land thinly populated and covered in forests and lakes. That great feeling of about to be immersed in a different place – and new horizons…..



The symphony Finlandia was composed by the famous Finnish composer Sibelius prior to the Second World War, when Finland was invaded by the Russians – and fought them off for 6 months – an act of unbelievable courage from such a small population. I attended the performance of Finlandia by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra earlier in the year – and how it resonated with the audience with the Russian troops invading The Ukraine.