The morning of July 13th came around, the day Irish people would be 'allowed' into Finland (along with many other nationalities of course), but coming from Sweden, I was sceptical, but of course I would give it a go.
My friend Paddy from Wexford, who had arrived to Haparanda, the day before, stopped by to say Bon Vogage and kindly took Gimli for a walk while I got the van sorted. I headed off over the bridge into the queue and was stopped and questioned by the border control. With a little bit of a cover story, I naturally chatted my way over the border, and headed in the direction of Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland.
I couldn't quite believe I had made it, considering there were a few points during the conversation I was sure I would be refused entry, but oh well. We had arrived in country number 7 of the road trip, and of Gimlis life!
Our experience in Rovaniemi featured us crouched under a shelter for a good while until it passed. The following day I headed to the Arktikum museum (Im a huge fan of cool museums), which had science and anthropology exhibitions of the Arctic and what life is like in the region. It was fascinating, so much so that I couldn'teave without grabbing my copy of The Arctic Pocket Book at the gift shop.
That night, I spent parked at Santas Village (pinch me moment) just north of the city, where I found myself casually bringing my dog for a midnight walk in my pjs past santas office, with the whole place to myself. It was surreal, to cross the Arctic Circle here, but what was even more surreal was visiting Santa the next day and asking him for winter tyres for Christmas while giggling like a little child. Santa laughed and said I can come join his team for the winter.
Our first hike was Eeron Polku which was signposted along the highway. It was an easy uphill trail with many info boards dedicated to the famous Finnish skiier. The views from the top were fantastic, and like almost everywhere in Lapland, it had a traditional laavu or hut complete with fire pit, dry toilet cabin and cabin full of firewood.
\nIn between dodging herds of reindeer on the road, I learned a lot about Lapland from the many visitor centers in the national parks, which all had free exhibitions. I ended my Finland trip with a stop at the Hetta visitor centre and a quick hike from there, before heading over the border towards Alta, Norway.
\nLapland was a magical place for me, full of mystery and amazing scenes at every corner. The stories of the Arctic and the life of the indigenous people of the Arctic, I found absolutely fascinating and I couldn't help but imagine what it would be like to visit in the depths of winter. The midnight sun was a sight to behold during my quick visit to Lapland and that is something everyone must see at least once in their life.