Finland – Travel Report from the TV series “Time Out”

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A beautiful trip to northern Europe: Helsinki – Turku – travel by snowmobile – Icehotel – Visiting Santa Claus – Rovaniemi

Our route takes us to Helsinki, Turku, the main cultural centre of the year 2011, and on to Oulu. We cross the Baltic Sea on an ice road to Hailuoto, from here we reach Kemi and further up to the far north with the destination Rovaniemi, the town close to the Arctic Circle.

We embark in Rostock, where we take a ferry to Finland. We already cross thick layers of ice.

01:30 Helsinki is the capital with a population of more than 580,000 residents. This beautiful northern city is Finland’s centre politics, economy, culture and faith.
Orthodox Christians have lived in Helsinki since the Russian rule. Their main church is the famous Uspenski Cathedral.

In Helsinki, we visit the senate square with the monument honouring Tsar Alexander the second for his Finland-friendly politics. The square is surrounded by wonderful classical buildings – the cathedral, the old senate house, the main building of the University and to the south the Sederholm House, the oldest building in the city.

03:26 Turku was named Cultural Centre in 2011 (slogan “Turku in flames”). From the 13th century when it was founded until the 19th century it was the most important city in Finland. The cathedral is the most significant example of church architecture in Finland. The best-known grave in the cathedral is the sarcophagus of Queen Karin Mänsdotter. Something really special is the Sunborn Princess Hotel, a converted luxury yacht.

6:15 Ride on a snowmobile through the wide and snow-covered landscape. We fish in ice holes and eat elk stew and reindeer steaks.

08:25 In the vicinity of Oulu we cross the Baltic sea on a layer of ice 70cm thick. On our route to Kemi we stop to look at the island of Hailuoto, connected to the main land by an ice road. On our tour with an icebreaker we stop for a very special attraction for tourists: a fun pool for “ice bathing”

11:45 Back on land we take a ride on a husky sled and let us pull through the deep white snow. In a spaciously designed nature reserve close Rovaniemi live animals like the wolf, the polecat, the lynx or the arctic fox. So we see them in an almost natural environment but still protected. Polar bears, however, are kept separately.

13:07 In our snowmobiles Snowmobiling we arrive at the end of the day at the exceptional ice-hotel. The construction of the hotel begins every year in mid-November and 5-6 weeks later, the hotel can be opened. It is undoubtable a great experience to sllep here. There is no heating and we have outside temperatures up to -40 degrees. In mid-April, we are closing the hotel, the ground starts warming up, then it doesn’t look very nice anymore. We just let it melt, by the end of June is has disappeared. The only thing left to clear up and store for next winter are a few km cables and hundreds of lights.

15:25 We attend a dancing lesson of the Finnish tango, and after this we visit knife maker. In his manufacture he produces the famous Finnish knife Puuko, a knife from elk antlers.

21:41 Certainly, at the end of our tour, there has to be the essential visit to Santa Claus, where we travel to in a sleigh, pulled by reindeer. Inside the building there is a special postal centre, staffed by elves and the legendary time clock. Santa Claus stops time there every year so he can visit all people in one night to deliver their presents.

A film by Peter Stromberg from the documentary series “Time Out”