A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about winter

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)

Visiting Kuopio

A day in Kuopio, Finland

overcast 18 °F

Another train ride working our way north. This time the stop was Kuopio.
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We had a longer walk, about 10 minutes, to our hotel. The walk was made longer after I slipped on the ice. But with my pants torn at the knee, I looked very cool! (cold?) Torn pants are the look of some of the young people.

We asked at the desk where to go and where the locals eat. The two people recommended that we walk to the lake and then marked on the map where two restaurants were. They said that the hotel also had 2 good restaurants.

The walk by the lake was beautiful but funny to see boats frozen in place for the winter. We walked until we were way too hungry. Winds were also picking up making it really cold. IMG_20161211_133435896.jpgIMG_20161211_133902797.jpgIMG_20161211_133911761.jpgIMG_20161211_134655677.jpg

On the way to the restaurant area, we were passing the cathedral. We decided to step inside and blow our dripping noses. We wanted to warm up a bit too. http://www.spottinghistory.com/view/215/kuopio-cathedral/

We stepped inside the cathedral and in the choir loft, above the door, we heard music, “Little Drummer Boy”. It became apparent that it was a rehearsal so we thought we’d sit down, warm up and hear the music. Within minutes people started streaming in and within 10 minutes the whole place was packed.

I went to the rear and picked up a brochure but, of course, we couldn’t read it as it was all in Finnish. There were numbers 1-24 listed on the front page so we thought that maybe it was about programs every night until Christmas. A lady sat down next to me and started to talk but I had to tell her that I did not speak Finnish. Alas.

The program started and people sang along, the lady next to me pointed to the song they were singing. We did not recognize most of the songs except for “Little Drummer Boy”, “Away In a Manger” and “Beautiful Savior”. Some of the songs were performed by a men’s chorus in the choir loft, this included the “Little Drummer Boy”. Otherwise, the audience joined in accompanied by the organ. A part of the rendition of “Beautiful Savior” is attached.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWRYdZEdvDg&t=1s
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We walked to the center square but winds were blowing and the restaurants did not have anything we wanted to eat. We decided to walk back to the hotel for dinner and sauna.

Posted by Miss Chris 03:08 Archived in Finland Tagged winter walking outdoors singing kuopio winter_in_finland kuopio_finland kuopio_cathedral christmas_songs 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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