We have made it to Finland! We took an overnight flight to Frankfurt and then a short flight to Helsinki. Once we arrived in Helsinki we had to find a bus to take us to the train station. Success! Found the bus and icicles to boot!
We were a few hours ahead of our train so we found a very warm and cozy bar, Hemingways. We had our first Finnish beer, Koff, a very good lager. Also we learned that they have different classes of beer. A Koff is a class 3 beer because of its alcohol content.
Around 8 pm, exactly 24 hours after we left Orlando, our Polar Express arrived. We opted for the sleeper compartment with en suite bathroom. It was a very nice train! A little tight in the room, but that is to be expected. We had a quick bite to eat in the restaurant car and then just relaxed.
Surprisingly we had a great sleep and enjoyed the ‘downtime’. Next morning (Christmas Eve) we arrived in Rovaniemi!! Holy cold!!!!
Every hair on our body that wasn’t protected wanted to start crystalizing. Weird at first, but it was very refreshing after being on a plane and train for almost 24 hours. We jumped on another bus and headed to Santa’s Village! Now some Rovaniemi facts!
Rovaniemi is Santa’s official hometown. Also, it is the capital of Finnish Lapland. Rovaniemi is the largest city in the world that sits on the Arctic Circle ( 66° 34′ N 023° 51′ E in case you were wondering the coordinates). Upon arrival you get a passport stamp and a certificate proving your arrival to the Arctic Circle.
The village is filled with festivities, especially on Christmas Eve! Our first stop was of course to see the big man himself. Quite an experience to see Santa in his hometown! He sits and chats with you, awkward at first, but seemed pretty geniune. Our next venture was across the path to the Santa Claus Main Post Office. Holy letters! Piles of letters were stacked everywhere, Santa has received over 165 million letters here from 198 different countries!
The rest of our day was spent exploring the scenery and getting used to the cold (-19° Celsius), if it’s even possible to get used to this?! It was all soooooo beautiful! A great depiction of a winter wonderland.
We are staying in an Igloo tonight. We were very hesitant about doing this as of TODAY because there is something about being cold and knowing you can’t go home to a nice warm bed. Not only are we staying in an Igloo, we are eating at the ICE restaurant. Luck would have it, it is one if the clodest weeks in Rovaniemi in a very long time. Tonight it is -12, but feels like -21!!! We are not complaining….well kind of. More pics to come!