Mountains, rapids, and wild walks
Part two, Rovaniemi & the archipelago
Finland is close, just 30 meters away across the rapids. But you can’t cross here, there are no bridges. You need to drive down to the twin cities of Haparanda/Torneå to cross the border. And we do so to visit the major Finnish town in these parts, Rovaniemi. Once famous for its Sami market, but these days a heavily renovated modern city with far too many shopping malls. But there’s a nice and popuar beach by the river, och a few kilometers out, where you meet the polar circle, is the home of Santa Claus. Yes, that’s what the Finns have decided so here you can meet him every day of the year.
Our next adventure starts in “Haparanda harbour” that in spite of the name is not at all in Haparanda but some 15 kilometers west of the city, in Nikkala. There we hop on a tour boat that takes us out into a beautiful archipelago dotted with pancake-flat islands. We’re accompanied by a family with a rather grumpy daughter, we later learn that she’s some local pop star.
We stop at the mainly uninhabited island of “Torne Furö”, where we leave the company and walk across the island through a magic forest, dead silent. But on the other side we find a perfect beach, all to ourselves.
Back in Kukkola we try to hike in the nearby forest, entering through a flowering meadow. Because of the short summer up here all flowers bloom simultaneously, and it’s an amazing sight. But these wild flowers and weeds grow over the fields and gardens of abandoned houses that you see everywhere. This is a depopulated region where life was hard and many have moved south.
We pass an old railroad but then we have to turn and go back because of myriads of aggressive mosquitos. I get a chance to test my mosquito-safe hat, and it actually works. Good for me.
Last night in Kukkola and we have dinner seated on the old fishing bridge. It’s a prefect summer evening, warm night and a spectacular sunset. We eat smoked whitefish and the local speciality “dip-in-a-cup”. Accompanied by a fresh chilled white wine it’s just perfect.
Some more impressions from Kukkola: