The last leg of my journey through Scandinavia would first take me north through Lapland and then loop back south along the Gulf of Bothnia though Finland.
From Reindeer on the highway to the sun out at midnight, to great conversations, the trip would turn out to be great fun. Scandinavia has a great deal of pristine nature overall, but Lapland is in a class of its own.
Trondheim to Rovaniemi:
After spending a little time at the Kristiansen Fortress, I was on the road headed towards Vilhelmina in Sweden. The Swedish border is around a couple of hours drive from Trondheim, and by the time I got to the border I was good and hungry. Luckily I found a roadside cafe soon after crossing into Sweden, the place was packed with workers taking their lunch, locals eating somewhere is always a good sign. The lunch buffet was great and the lady who ran the place was very warm and despite the rush wanted to know all about my travels so far and insisted that I try out some of the desserts. After the steep prices in Norway, Sweden felt rather affordable! I decided to camp out at Dorotea Camping near the town of Vilhelmina. One had a choice of renting out a a tepee or a cabin at the campsite, the accommodation was nice, with a small lake and sauna on site.
The next morning I was out early, the plan was to make it to Lulea, and do a little exploring about town there. I was travelling through Lapland proper by now, a friend at the campsite had warned me about reindeer I might encounter on the road, and sure enough I ran into several herds on or along the highway, and a couple of times I had to stop and wait for them to cross. Got to my destination the Sunderby Hotel in the old part of the city early afternoon. There is a nice restaurant on site and I had a couple of meals here, would definitely recommend it. The major attraction here is the old church town called Gammelstad here, this is a UN World Heritage site as well. Along with the church there are many ld wooden houses, these were used by worshipers who came for services and could not return home the same day because of the distance to their homes.
It seems that this is a popular place to visit, and there were quite a few visitors on site. After a couple of hours roaming around the site I headed back to the hotel. The next day I planned to cross over into Finland and above the Arctic circle.
My first stop in Finland was Rovaniemi which bills itself as the hometown of Santa. I stayed at the Aria Bed and Breakfast in town, a very nice lady runs the place, and her blueberry pancakes are to die for, I actually ended up staying an extra day to recharge after all the travel. Two things were on the agenda, to see the midnight sun and go north of the Arctic Circle. There is a welcome station at the Arctic Circle (Napapiieri) about 20 min form town, this is somewhat touristy and one can get lots of related swag there. After the essential photo there I was back in town, took a long walk, passing over the Jankankynttila Bridge, this celebrates the logging and lumber jack heritage of the city, two ever lit pillars symbolize the lumberjack’s candle.
I had a late dinner as I wanted to witness the midnight sun, then struggled hard to stay up late after all the travel. I drove around for a bit and found a nice spot and can now claim to have seen the midnight sun. The next morning I had a great breakfast at the B&B, did I mention the pancakes!. Breakfast at a B&B is always a nice place to met people, here I ran into a nurse who was travelling from a small town outside of Helsinki to a town way north of the Arctic Circle, turned out it was their first trip so far away from home, and was a bit anxious about this new phase of life. A visit to the Rauna Wildlife Park was on the agenda for the day, their claim is to being the northern most zoo in the world. The park provides a nice environment to the wildlife there, and one can see Arctic Wildlife throughout the year.
Rovaniemi to Stockholm:
Back on the road I camped out at Vasaa the next day and then stopped at Turku, before taking the Ferry to Stockholm. This trip takes one along the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia, and one sees a lot of scenic wilderness (more reindeer herds on the highway!) . At Vasaa I stopped at a Top Camping campsite, this is like the Finnish version of KOA, and maintain they good campgrounds. At Vasaa the campgrounds border a lake and there is a nice hiking trail that goes around the lake. After setting up, I went on this longish hike, had a meal at the restaurant on site and turned in for the day.
The next day was my last day on this trip in Finland, my destination was Ruissalo Camping a campsite near the city of Turku. On the advice of the staff there I rented a two person room in one of the ‘Hostel style’ building on site. This was located in a somewhat isolated location, and I was the only guest there, it seemed. This was disconcerting as it is, combined with the location, all manner of horror stories went through my mind, more on this later. I drove into town and explored the city a little and then came back to the campsite. Dinner was at a nearby restaurant, Villa Saaro, this is a nice upscale restaurant, with a great ambiance and really good food. I had a long leisurely dinner and by the time I to back to my room I was rather tipsy. The place seemed even more isolated now that I had imbibed some, Walter de la Mare’s stories kept coming to my mind, specially with the creaking and settling of the old building. Needless to say I not only survived, but slept rather well once I managed to fall asleep.
Woke up early next morning and headed to the ferry terminal in Turku to get on the ferry to Stockholm. I had booked a trip across on the ‘Viking Line’, the trip took a few hours, the ferry was more like a cruise ship, with restaurants on boards along with proper cabins for rest. I caught up on some sleep and then headed out to the restaurant. The views are spectacular, definitely something worth doing once. By the time I got into Stockholm it was getting dark, I needed to find a campsite. After a little search I came across Bredang Camping Site, it was a little cold and I was also coming down with something, so I tried to get a cabin, turned out that they were nearly full and the only thing available was a small campsite, for which I had to settle. Made myself some hot soup and pasta and turned in. In the morning I headed to old city (Gamla Stan), this is a well preserved historic part of the city. Roamed around taking in the sights and sounds, including a Royal Palace where you buy a ticket to go in and see the show! Found a nice cozy cafe to sit back and relax before heading out towards Jonkoping en route to Malmo.
I had a flight out form Copenhagen Airport, and the final stop was in Malmo. I drove to there spending a rather uneventful night at Jonkoping. I got to my Hostel in Malmo, Bosses Gastvanigar and checked in, it turned out to be basic but quite clean, and I would definitely recommend it. I was flying out to Madrid the next day, and had a bit too much stuff on me and had to get rid of some of the camping equipment. The only problematic thing was the butane cylinder, there was plenty of gas left in it and I did not want to throw it in a dumpster. Buying one of these was easy enough and I thought returning one would be equally easy, this turned out to be patently false. I must have checked a dozed gas stations but none of them recycled the cylinders, as it was late no outdoors equipment shop was open. I also did not want to leave a contained with gas on the sidewalk or by a dumpster. I decided to empty the cylinder before leaving it, so there I was sitting in a park with a hissing gas cylinder besides me, yikes! Thankfully it all got done with me being hauled off to a police precinct and I got some shawarma and a can of Carlsburg and called it a day.
I woke up early to catch my 8 am flight, returned the car to the rental place and was on my way to Spain…..farväl till nästa gång