Monday, October 18, 2010
From the Land of Santa Claus
I'm back from my short trip to Swedish and Finnish Lapland, just north of the Arctic Circle. :) I wish we'd had time to drive through Norway as well (Northernmost Norway - with stunningly beautiful mountains, fjords, and the Arctic Ocean - is one of my favorite parts in whole Europe), but we were a little short on time and didn't travel that far north this time. My Aunt was traveling with us, and since she had injured her leg just a few days earlier, we didn't do any hiking in the mountains - or fells - on this trip, either. Nonetheless, it was a wonderful little getaway. :)

Lapland is very different from the rest of Europe - and quite similar to Alaska. North of the Arctic Circle, the sun never sets in the summer - and does not rise during the Polar Night in the winter. The nature is quite barren, and houses - let alone towns - are far apart. There are animals, birds and plants that are not found elsewhere; and many trees and plants growing in the southern parts of Scandinavia do not survive there. The area has a rich culture and history of its own, and the local Sami people are one of the only indigenous peoples in Europe.

The people in Lapland are some of the friendliest and most helpful people I have ever met, anywhere. I don't think I could ever live that far north myself - both because of the climate and the distance to everything - but I wish I could have these people as my neighbors. Whenever I travel north, I am always amazed at their kindness and generosity. I am also ever so impressed that people still live - and make a living - in those most remote areas, where the nearest grocery store or hospital may be hundreds of miles away. I really hope that the area will remain inhabited in years to come, and that there will be enough opportunities for people to keep living and working there. It is a sad development if the only opportunities are found near big cities in the south, and if all those people have to move away from their roots. In my opinion, the beauty of Lapland is not in the touristy ski resorts, but in the wilderness, unique nature, the distant villages, distinct seasons, cultural heritage, and local people.

We stopped by some remote, Northern rapids. The pictures couldn't really capture their barren beauty. In the spring, these rivers are filled with water, and some of the rapids resemble waterfalls.

Got to see the first snow - and ice...

Crossed the Arctic Circle...

(The geographic arctic circle moves gradually - about 15 meters each year - and today runs across the airport a couple of miles away. Santa Claus should perhaps move his village ;)). 

Entering the reindeer area is always interesting. For some reason, the reindeer seem to enjoy casually walking - and sometimes sleeping! - on the roads, to the delight of the tourists (like myself) and to the annoyance of the local drivers.

This group of reindeer had at least two bellwethers amongst them, but unfortunately I couldn't get a picture of the one with the most handsome horns - he went sprinting into the woods!

Visited some fells we could drive to. I have hiked some of the more remote, northern fells earlier - this one was just a little south of the arctic circle, on the border between Finland and Sweden (this was on the Finnish side, and there was a big ski resort on the hill as well - though it was still closed for the "summer").

A beautiful, old Swedish rural church from the 1700's. Unfortunately it was not open to the public that day: I have heard it is unique and really well restored on the inside, too, and the organ in the church has quite an interesting story.

I will probably make another quick trip to Lapland - Sweden and Finland, and hopefully Norway - in a couple of weeks, in early November, just before returning to Denmark. They should have more snow on the ground then, and the Santa Claus Village is probably more lively as well (this time we only saw a few Japanese tourists - it was more like a ghost village. The fact that it was a week night when we visited might have something to do with it, too).

Tomorrow I'm finally traveling to see my sister and meet my new nephew for the first time! :-) After that, I will be back to my normal study routine again... but also finally back to my (well, my parents') kitchen. ;-)
posted by Seglare at Monday, October 18, 2010 | Permalink |


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