At 1.30pm on a dark Thursday of November, we gather at Tampere railway’s station, full of excitement and still stressed from our lives (study, work and other responsibilities).
After a small chat and some waiting, we all hop in the train – first stop, OULU! On the train we got to know each other. One random guy ended up in the middle of us, some of us treated him as if he was part of the trip and got to know him too. Soon we figured out he was just a student going back to Rovaniemi and not actually participating in the excursion!
We changed trains in Oulu. A couple more hours left until Rovaniemi, the night already settled and we all looked forward to arriving at Winter wonderland. Unfortunately, our lovely snowy friend left a couple of days ago. Climate change hit us as a reality that affects the Arctic region even more than everywhere else.
Luckily a tortilla night was waiting for us at our cozy cottage! We got to know each other better, listened to Ed Sheeran and filled our stomachs with lovely homemade veggie Fajitas.
What could possibly be a better start for the day than a lecture? Where to? University? Of course not! At Arktikum (Arctic Museum) researchers welcomed us with a nice breakfast and we got to learn about indigenous population in the Arctic region through the scope of anthropological research. The University of Lapland also offers very interesting courses about Sámi culture and indigenous beliefs, we wish to have access to those in the South as well! We also heard about snow related research. After this lecture, we had a short guided tour through the museum and science centre. We saw stuffed animals of the arctic region, learned about midnight sun and polar night and saw more about the cultures of indigenous peoples.
We concluded our trip at the Arktikum viewing an installation that presented the city structure of Rovaniemi before and after the second world war, a city with tiny old houses typical to the Northern space that vanished symbolizing the end of the war: only twenty of the buildings remained. Although Rovaniemi was inhabited from the Stone Ages, very few buildings date back before 1940’s. When there is no snow and you do not see Santa Claus, your mind is blown away by the realities outside the socially constructed fascination of destruction, so we head to Pyhä to meet the purity of nature that has over 40 names in Finnish: SNOW!
Because guess what? Our bestie, Snowy, is back! From the bus we saw the increasing amount of snow and plenty of reindeer on the fields. Friday evening was pizza night, which included some games, discussion, chilling and sauna! Some of us even went rolling in the fresh snow.
On Saturday we had lots of free time, so we left as smaller groups for walks in the natural park. These walks included Isokuru, which is a magnificent gorge. This was described almost as a spiritual experience for some. Some of us visited the Naava nature centre at the bottom of the arctic hill Pyhä, and found a dog-friendly bar as well! At 7pm we joined together in one cabin to have a Timeout dialog about mining in Sámi areas. This discussion with all its perspectives was very rewarding and eye-opening. After the discussion some of us went sledding on the slope next to our accommodation, which was so much fun!
The day of leaving was the first day of sun. A small group decided to climb to the top of the hill in the early morning to watch the sunrise. The views on the way were gorgeous, and on the top we found a nice art installation with a few statues. Maybe the best part of this walk was the idea to take a couple of sleds with us, so we were able to sled down the hill afterwards. That was the sled ride of my life, to be honest. The views on the way down were indescribably beautiful, and we had so much fun on the way down.
After heading back to Rovaniemi by bus we had a couple of hours to spend in the capital of Lapland. Some went to grab lunch, some visited museums while the others just enjoyed the sunny and crispy weather outside. On the train ride home the atmosphere was tired but happy. Lapland had really shown its beauty for us!
The post has been written by the participants of the Lapland excursion.