White. Lots of white. White fields, white trees, white rivers flowing into white lakes. White roofs, white cars. Sparkling white, dancing white, clouds of white.
Under a bright blue sky, over red buildings and dark green trees.
It’s a beautiful day, provided you are somewhere warm. Which we are, sitting inside a train racing northwards towards the Arctic Circle.
After another wonderful breakfast with too many choices we rush to the metro to catch the train back to the central station. Up to the platforms where a variety of trains wait, including the fast Allegro service to Russia.
Our train arrives soon after and we climb the stairs to our upper deck seats in first class. There are inconvenient power points and free wifi. Possibly free tea and coffee as well.
We head out under blue skies, which remain above us for most of the ride. After we depart the Helsinki area it’s mostly spruce forest with patches of beech. Wooden cabins dot the forests, especially around lakes. There are farm houses too, horses are seemingly common livestock.
Logging is another common industry, with railway wagons of cut trees waiting in sidings.
Tampere is interesting. As we left Helsinki there was one amusement park, Tampere has another on the banks of a lake that looks like a frozen sea.
Our train runs at up to 200 kilometres per hour, but it is delayed, letting other trains pass on loops. We worry that we will miss our connection, but are assured by the conductor that it will wait for us at Oulu.
Alex finds the baguette we purchased at Helsinki inedible and so we set out to find the restaurant car. I was impressed with the choice of meals (including meatballs, of course) , they looked well presented. It did, however, take half an hour to heat up a slice of pizza for Alex.
The evening sky casts the snowscape in a different light, a sun pillar visible above our star, a waxing moon appearing above the horizon.
We arrive at Oulu and quickly swap trains, this one an older set. Then we continue through the darkness until we at last arrive at Rovaniemi.
I tell Beatrice we have three possible methods of getting to the hotel. Walk for less than 20 minutes, catch a bus and walk the last 500 metres or take a taxi ride. Walk she says!
When we step down out of the carriage on to the ice platform at Rovaniemi she changes her mind. Taxi!
Lucky we did, for walking would have been difficult and very cold. Sixteen degrees centigrade below zero according to the display in the pedestrian mall adjacent to the hotel.
After dumping our bags we take a wander outside to find dinner. There’s a giant Moomin snow sculpture, a couple of shopping centres closing for the night and a variety of international meal choices along with too many hamburger outlets.
Alex slips on ice and falls on his bottom, giving him a big shock and a sore arse.
We end up returning to the hotel restaurant for salmon, pork and, in Alex’s case, spaghetti bolognese. Really nice though, and the salmon soup starter is perfect for this weather.
I’m kind of glad we had a train day today, a chance to rest for a while. Tomorrow we are off to see Santa!