Our entrance back into the EU was as troublesome as when we left it when we entered
Norway. We took the left lane with nothing to declare. We are in Finland at the
very top of the country. We have enjoyed Norway, the fjords and water, the tundra
and forests but not the expensive beer (the equivalent of $14 for one pint of local
draft in a pub) and expensive campgrounds. Finland is a little cheaper but still
more expensive than Western Europe.
Our first night in Finland is at a very nice campground on a lake just on the south
edge of the town of Inari. The Lomakylä Inari Oy Campground is owned by a couple
of GoldWingers! They are members of the GoldWing Club of Finland and have a beautiful
blue 1800. They have cabins, tent area and a section for RV's as well as a cafe
and TV. It is a nice, well-run campground and I highly recommend it. Contact Tapani
Lappalain at +358 (0)400-295-731 if you want to reserve.
The day we arrived here was the first day we had seen the sun go around in a complete
circle. Before this day we had clouds or high hills around us. That morning as
we left our cabin in Nordkapp at 9 AM we could see the sun low in the eastern sky,
at noon it was midway up the southern sky, that evening as we camped it was low in
the western sky, at midnight (after Germany lost a rough finals in the Eurocup football
match) it was just above the trees to the north across the lake, when bladder pressure
got me up in the wee hours of the morning it was in the northeastern sky and finally
when we left the campground about 9AM it was back to low in the eastern sky. We
had watched the sun go around in a circle without ever dropping below the horizon.
From there we headed to Rovaniemi where Santa Claus lives between his annual trips
around the world.
He has received 12.5 million letters from 197 different countries. He got 700,000
letters last year alone. The UK, Italy, Poland and Finland are the top four countries
that write to him in Santa Claus Village.
This is where we again crossed the Arctic Circle. It runs right through Santa's
In Rovaniemi is the Arktikum Museum, a very fine museum about the Arctic region of
our planet, with emphasis on the Scandinavian Arctic. No pictures were allowed of
the many realistic, life-sized dioramas.
Also in Rovaniemi was a Forestry Museum with original logging camp buildings, displays
One of the more interesting was this steam "tractor". It is designed to run on snow
and ice with runners out front and tracks at the back. It was made in Philadelphia
as an experiment. It was successful but the start of World War I ended the plans
for more. The steam pistons are vertical (like a Shay locomotive) on the side of
the boiler. A man rode in the back and kept the fire going and another rode on the
front to steer. You can just see the steering wheel next to the purple stripe on
the left. (The stripes are the chain link fence I was taking the picture through.)
We also made a run into the back country and toured an amethyst mine. The mine opened
in 1985 and is now open for tours. We took the tour with a guide from France and
a Canadian family from Prince Edward Island. The Canadian women have gauze jackets
on that is designed to repel mosquitoes which are fierce and numerous in Finland. The
jackets even have a hood and face cover that can be zipped up.
The mine was a 2.5 km. (about 1.5 m.) walk from the parking area. We arrived just
as the next tour was starting and the guide gave an interesting talk on the history
of amethyst and the area. It seems the value of the amethyst has dropped drastically
and they do very little commercial mining of the site.
What they do is charge you 13 Euros for the tour and let you dig for 15 minutes after
the tour. You are allowed to keep your choice of the amethysts you find, as long
as it fits inside your closed fist. That's it, one small rock for your 13€ and you
dig it yourself! But it was fun. None of us found anything more than small semiprecious
At this Sami museum (the Sami are the indigenous people of the Scandinavian Arctic.)
the bicycle in front was more interesting than the museum. It has a baby stroller
as a trailer with a limb from a tree as the tow bar. There are lots of pads and
mats covered by a reindeer hide as a seat. And there is a birdcage mounted in front
of the handlebars to carry his small dog! He has more stuff than we do!
After three days of blue skies and white fluffy clouds we have been caught in a drenching
thunderstorm and set up a wet camp near Sonkjårvi to watch the "World Wife Carry
The contestants have to carry a wife across an obstacle course. According to the
rules: "The wife can be your own, you neighbor's, or you may have found her farther
afield.". Sounds like fun!