Long Road to Lapland
October 4 and 5, 2001
Dear Friends and Family,
Turku to Lapland is a long way. We found this out in two days, one wrong and one right. First the wrong day.
We finally made it out of Turku at about 1:30 in the afternoon and headed north. The plan, such as it was, had us driving for a few hours and finding a nice hotel at some undefined location on the way. We hit the road playing our stereo loud and enjoying our new unfettered lifestyle.
A couple hours of this and we were hungry and stopped at a wide spot in the road for "lounas", which I think means buffet lunch. In Finland, we've discovered that at lunch time, more or less, there are many cafe's that serve buffets for 40+ Finnish Marks - that's about six or seven dollars and a real bargain. It's an all you can eat arrangement, with simple but reasonably healthy food. Even at this road stop, it was a tasty little bargain and since we have set a reasonably tight budget for ourselves, bargains are appreciated.
We looked at our map and figured we could make it to Jyvaskla by about 6:00 pm and should be able to find lodging. The arriving at 6:00 worked, but finding lodging didn't. The "reasonably tight budget thing" eliminated a couple hotels and our taste eliminated a couple others so, 45 minutes after arriving in the center of town, we left. We were confident a clean, comfortable, cheap place could be found just outside of town going out because we'd seen such places going in.
Big mistake and after reaching the very northern edge of town we stopped for gas and instructions. The friendly cashier said she did think there was one hotel farther north, 35 kilometers north - about 25 miles. By now, the road was getting long and dark (Picture #01) and our songs much quieter.
"Unfettered" was moving into "lost" but finally we found Aanekosti and the finest hotel in town, The Hervi Hotelli. We stopped but debated about going in. If it hadn't been past 8:00pm on a very long day, we'd have looked farther because Aanekosti 's finest, and only, hotel had seen better days. Inside, it was still pretty timeworn. Marianne insisted on inspecting a room first and it passed -- barely. It was little more than two tired single beds and a nightstand but Finnish cleanliness and our own exhaustion compensated adequately. We went back to the desk clerk and said something to the effect of "Since there's nothing else within miles, we'll take it." She smiled. Her moose partner smiled. (Picture #02).
Over breakfast the next day, we resolved to take new steps. Key among them is to arrive at destinations before the local Tourist Information (TI) office closes so we can get hotel recommendations. This is exactly the guidance provided in our Rick Steves' guidebook but there's nothing like a night in the Moose Motel to make us believers.
We left Aanekosti Friday morning, virtually at the crack of dawn on our way to Rovaniemi, the capital of the state of Lapland. The TI office was reported to close at 4:00 and this time we would not be late. Besides, it was another day, the stereo was back on and we were only fettered a bit by our daily deadline.
After five or six hours of driving, we found a small town and took advantage of another bargain "lounas". (Picture #03) Forty finmarks. Tasty food. Non-existent service. This last feature takes some adapting because no one greets you at the restaurant door; no one shows you to your table, no one does anything for that matter. The foods out, plates are out, and customers just come in, combine food and plates, eat and leave. We assume they have some sort of arrangement for payment but we had to search out someone to take our 40 finmarks. Interesting.
Along the way, we tried a couple of photographs of the beautiful fall colors (Picture #04) but the clouds were too dark to really show off. Oh well, maybe we'll be back next year.
At 3:45 we pulled into Rovaienimini and headed for the TI office. The young lady there was as helpful as the guidebooks promised. She told us the sights to see (next story) and recommended the Sky Hotel, a mile or so away, at the top of an in-town ski resort. It turned out to be beautiful and it was within budget because it is now neither summer tourist season nor winter skiing season.
So it's Saturday morning breakfast and I'm writing diaries, looking out on a Nordic sunrise, just a couple of miles south of the Arctic Circle. (Picture #05). Pretty amazing.
Take care and send "SMS" messages to "firstname.lastname@example.org"
(email has proven unreliable).
John and Marianne
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