The Christmas chat – Rovaniemi and beyond
I have been doing a lot of research lately on Christmas things, legends, traditions, best locations for a white Christmas and all that drill. You know the moment Christmas becomes part of your work you slowly start hating it. And this whole Christmasy experience made me think of Rovaniemi, you know, Santa’s house, where he and his elves reside throughout the whole year, northern Finland, the place where everyone has to go at least once etc…
Unfortunately I didn’t have the luck to visit Rovaniemi during winter time but instead embarked on a journey in mid-June, a few years ago. In case you already are in Finland, getting to this city is not that much of a deal. I went by bus from Jyvaskyla to Oulu and from Oulu we took a train up to Rovaniemi. And that was basically it. The local buses from the city can easily lead you to Santa’s village.
One of the “best” things about my trip was the fact that I suffered a “tiny” explosion a week before the trip was planned. So basically the stove in the kitchen exploded and my right hand was burnt quite… badly, as you can see in the photo. Hence, the trip became more of an adventure, especially because I’m right handed so doing stuff with my other, unused, alien hand was a real challenge.
I started packing my huge backpack (with one hand, to be appreciated), I even showered and got dresses with my “bad” hand. Looking back, it really took guts to enroll on the journey given the circumstances. The good part was that in Oulu I has some really amazing friends (I will talk about them later on) so in my mind it was like “you need to get to Oulu and they will take care of you there”.
Which basically happened. In case you ever wonder what was the first thing that I did once I got to famous Rovaniemi? We went to an Apteekki and bought the necessary medicine for my hand. Much fun!
Anyways, enough about personal drama. What can you see at Santa’s village? First of all you will come across the Napapiiri (The Arctic Circle). And most likely you will do what most tourists, including myself, did, meaning kneel and take a photo of this famous line.
What to expect from the “village”? Well… Depends what you are into. It has lots (I mean lots) of souvenir shops so you can buy lots of stuff you will later never need at a very “pricey” price. There’s also a museum and you can obviously meet and take a photo with Santa (which in case you want to keep will also cost you half a kidney) but hey it’s a cute experience.
Truth be told, the entire experience was a bit awkward and almost depressing given that we went in June and Christmas carols were playing everywhere and there were elves and Santa. I mean just imagine those people having to work there in the Christmasy environment throughout the WHOLE year. I mean, it’s nice and all as long as it last 2 days and it comes once a year. But imagine hearing carols every day of your life at work. Not so cute any longer…
Otherwise Rovaniemi is a very cute city, for an Eastern European everything is very expensive and clean. What I regret the most is not having had the time to do the Arctic Circle hike which must be amazing for every nature lover out there. But even for those more into city thingies to do, there are plenty, starting from museums to local churches that represent attractions.
I will say this now and repeat it probably thousands of times throughout my posts: Finland is an amazing place to visit if you are into more quiet and chill touristic experiences, if you are into nature and calm. I truly believe that it’s not possible to visit Finland and not fall in love with at least something local, be it a cultural thing or nature (nature most of the cases and the immensity of forests they have) or the infrastructure, the way everything is organized and in order.
As about Santa’s home, my advice is to give it a go during winter time, it’s probably much more natural and impressive. And brace yourself because it’s full of kids! Otherwise, happy travel and enjoy Northern Finland!