Emmas Drommekjokken (Emma’s Dream Kitchen) could be classed as a high end bistro, stylish but not over done. It prides itself on unpretentious, home cooked food created with seasonal produce and Norwegian seafood. The wait staff were super friendly, happy and chatty.
As we strolled around the harbor area the next morning we came across the ‘Energy Observer’ the first vessel in the world to both generate and be powered by hydrogen, with zero greenhouse gases. It was a pretty amazing sight, covered in solar panels and very sleek. Pete was desperately trying to work out a way how he could join them! We visited Polaria, an arctic aquarium housed in a funky designed building that represents large ice chunks. We didn’t actually go inside the aquarium due to time restraints and quite costly for the amount of time we would be able to spend there. Further down the street we came across a local butcher, a rarity in Scandinavia as we have mentioned, and we took the opportunity to buy various locally produced meats, including reindeer snags, for the next few meals.
This was it, time to start making our way south.... and east, to Finland.
We discovered that the E8 we were on was known as the ‘Northern Lights Route’. This road is where the 3 countries of Norway, Sweden and Finland connect. Starting in Tromsø it follows the boarders of Finland and Sweden for 600km crossing back and forth over 7 bridges. The area has the highest fells of Finland and these make it one of the best advantage points to view the northern lights... in winter. It seams everywhere above the arctic circle prides itself on being the best place to see those bleeding lights... in winter!
Shortly after our lunch stop, overlooking the last of our fjords, the cars in front of us had come to a halt. Just in front of them was a car on its roof with a group of people trying to flip it back. Smoke was coming from it and a campervan was in the side of the road. The guys righted the car and a lady crawled from the car, thankfully, unhurt. The ambulances had arrived and they were in no rush, so obviously no one else appeared seriously hurt. Unfortunately the car was a total right off and lay across the middle of road. No one was going anywhere - either direction!
We had been trying to work out an alternative route but there didn’t appear to be one though many cars were turning around. We eventually spoke to a guy who had been talking to the medics, he said it would be at least another hour then gave us directions to the ‘old road’. He was a journalist and had come to see what was going on. He lived on the old road and had noticed the sudden increase of traffic, so he knew something had happened.
Back on the road again, Pete questioned whether I was ok to continue continue south in Finland or stay north and try to find a reindeer herd. He knew I was a little disappointed not to have seen herds of reindeer.
As we approached the boarder we saw a few more so I agreed, reluctantly to continue south. Minutes later, literally at the Finnish Boarder we were greeted by a large herd! They were running around the immigration building crossing from one forest area to another. We think they, like most people, were actually confused! do we take the green or red lane? I was very happy now and allowed Pete to turn south.
800m later we stopped in to the alcohol shop to replenish the supplies, we were running on fumes given the Norwegian prices (no Mum, I’m not an alcoholic). Finland also has the same strict laws that alcohol can only be sold in one particular shop. Shopping done Pete wanted to continue on a little as it was only 5.30, I was keen to find a camp site as it was 6.30pm!!!! After a little confusion we realised that some how my watch had changed to Finnish time and Petes was still on Norway time... an hour time difference - doh! I won!
We couldn’t come to the Arctic Circle without visiting its most famous resident so the next morning we set off for Rovaniemi, Santas home town - yes contrary to my understanding, Santa lives in Finland! The drive down was lovely, through forest areas with many reindeer, but I was still desperately wanting to see a moose. Once I had seen my first reindeer I was on the lookout for a moose, but yet to find one.
We arrived in Rovaniemi mid afternoon and found a proper campsite situated next to a lake. After setting up we headed into town about 15 minutes walk around to the other side of the lake. The town is small and many of the locals were making the most of late Friday afternoon summer sun, hanging out in the outdoor bars and restaurants. We did a bit of shopping, looked around and headed back.
We had chosen this campsite in order to get free WiFi for the final round of the AFL home and away series. The next morning was the last game for Freo’s season (we weren’t making the finals again). Sadly, another disappointing loss. (Note; two days later the coach and CEO were fired, which made Pete Happy) Oh well it is the beginning of a new era for the club and let’s hope that next season they can turn things around with the new coach. In order to celebrate the last game we cooked up a hotdog lunch.. not just any hotdogs - but more appropriately Scandinavian style - Reindeer hotdogs!!!