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Entries about train travel

Off to Oulu

Continuing on north

overcast 15 °F

And so the train moves on, quickly to the north. On towards the Arctic Circle.
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It was dark when we boarded our train at 7:50am. The train started and as it moved quickly thru the dark, past small towns, we felt like we were in the Polar Express movie. As the sun came up we were entranced by the trees, completely iced over and glistening in the sun. This is a winter wonderland like nothing we have ever seen.IMG_20161212_112703687.jpgIMG_20161212_114801011.jpg

It was a 4-hour ride to Oulu and we did not know what to expect as every day we’ve had some experience entirely different than any other.

We were starving after checking into the hotel but the sun was still up and we thought we’d see the Baltic Ocean during the light. We walked down on the slippery sidewalks, I was hanging onto Dale. We had to laugh, if one went down, we both went down.
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There were no good photo ops but we did duck into one of the old markets. The building has little shops lining the sides and down the middle. Shops sell knit goods, meat including bear, fish of all kinds, coffee, and food to take away (food ready to eat).
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We then walked back to the smaller square and found a restaurant recommended in the guide book but lunch was finished for the day. So back to the old market for some Salmon Soup and coffee.

We walked more and were hungry still so went to a restaurant recommended by a woman, “The Flying Reindeer”. Of course, we had to have a sirloin of Reindeer!

We found a little bar, also in the guide book. One that was supposed to have a huge fireplace. We popped in and the bartender recommended a Finnish drink, not quite as strong as Vodka. They started a roaring fire and told us to enjoy it. As it was only 3F, we were feeling very smug.
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Posted by Miss Chris 20:29 Archived in Finland Tagged winter walking outside train_travel oulu winter_in_finland finnish_food Comments (0)

On to Turku

Another stop on our trip to the Arctic Circle

overcast 25 °F

We wanted to hop on an early morning train, but alas, we took too long getting packed up so didn’t arrive in Turku until early afternoon. The cab driver to our hotel gave us some ideas for dinner and things to do.
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We quickly put our stuff in our room, asked the front desk to call a cab, but before we were off the lady gave us a map and circled the places to go and where to walk. In the cab, we were listening to rock music, like Penny Lane, in Finnish.

We had 2 things we wanted to do, go to Aboa Vetus recommended by the guide book and eat dinner at Foija, which was recommended by the cab driver.

We thought we’d eat a late lunch first then see the museum as the museum was open until 7pm and after 5pm the restaurant was likely going to be packed with reservations because of Christmas parties.

The restaurant has 2 levels, one on the street and one in the basement. The basement is very old, some of the brick walls are over 200 years old. The waiter suggested salmon and vodka, a wonderful choice for a starter.
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We ate our meal then walked to the Aboa Vetus. http://www.aboavetusarsnova.fi/en/exhibitions/aboa-vetus-permanent-exhibition
It was dark by then but we found our way. The Aboa Vetus is a museum consisting of ruins, some as early as the 13th century, existing under the present day city. Being interested in Archeology, this was of a huge interest to me and we both really enjoyed it.

There is an art museum, built on top of the ruins which contains various types of art. We went thru those exhibits as well with the time we had before closing.
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One striking exhibit is a sketch of the city of Turku. http://www.aboavetusarsnova.fi/en/exhibitions/okko-poylio-vartiovuori
The sketch is very moving but very dark.

Unfortunately, the Christmas Market was closed up by the time we walked back to the taxi queue. But it was cold (about 18F) and we were ready to go back to the hotel and have some wine.
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Posted by Miss Chris 00:36 Archived in Finland Tagged food walking finland turku outdoors train_travel winter_travel_finland Comments (0)

A Winter Trip to Finland

Finland for an anniversary

sunny 55 °F

After a long day of flying, flight delays, and more delays, we made it home from NM. We made it home, just in time to get unpacked and re-packed.

Years ago I saw an article and photos of glass igloos in Finland, up in the Arctic Circle. I decided it would be a really great place to celebrate one of our anniversaries and maybe see the northern lights. Up until now, we’ve always been too busy to go, but now the time seemed to be right.

Several months ago we cashed in a bunch of our frequent flier miles for tickets to Finland. That in itself became a challenge when Turkish Air changed our flight from Istanbul to the US to leave before we’d actually arrive in Istanbul from Helsinki.

Turkey was having political issues at the time and we were a little nervous about flying in and out of Turkey anyway so impossible flights were a good excuse for a change. I called United and when they realized that the flights were impossible, changes were made with no charge to us. Now we will fly Helsinki to Munich to the US.

We leave on Monday, you’d think that we’d be ready for this trip, having known and planned it for months. But no, it is being put together even now.

First, we need to go from Helsinki up to the Arctic Circle. We thought it would be fun to work our way up, visiting cities on the way. We’d planned to drive but after reading warnings on Trip Advisor we decided the train was best.

I got online and after looking for things to do, I found a site that will plan trips depending on what one wants to do. I took their ideas and thought it would make a good itinerary for us.

We will stay in Helsinki for 2 days and were lucky to get tickets to a Sibelius concert at the Music Hall. We got the last 2 tickets available.
From Helsinki we will travel by train to Turku- A Christmas City, Tampere- when the lake is frozen people walk out on the ice to a café, Kuopio, Oulu and then Rovaniemi. Rovaniemi is the city for Santa Claus, it also sits on the border of the Arctic Circle, ½ on and ½ off.

I went to buy Eurail passes and found that they must be delivered to our house prior to leaving. As there was no time for delivery I called the toll free #. The lady asked for our itinerary and as I sat there looking at the map of train stops I selected the town of Oulu. Oulu was not on the online guide but it has a train stop which is good enough.

From Rovaniemi, we will take a bus to Kaksluttanen, where the glass igloos are. We have reservations there for 2 days. Hopefully, we will get to go on a Reindeer Safari and a Sleigh Ride. And we are hoping for northern lights.
http://www.kakslauttanen.fi/en/
Most of our hotels are free nights from points which is nice. I still have 3 nights to book and will get that done before we leave.

So much to do and so little time.

Posted by Miss Chris 11:08 Archived in USA Tagged winter travel finland train_travel Comments (0)

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