It's funny how things tend to work out. Sometimes a tiny bit of information can turn into something wonderful. Without this helpful post, it's likely that we would have made other plans and not gone north at all. As it turned out, our decision to keep moving northward turned into a highlight of the whole trip. Thank you Internet!
Our overland trip across Scandinavia...
This video is from two days of exploring the Lofoten Islands via car. Despite being a couple of hundred miles into the Arctic Circle, it is quite mild thanks to the gulf stream current. A stunningly beautiful place our jaws are still on the floor. Pictures and more info coming soon...
Since I've met Lee, he's had a dreamy look in his eyes when he describes cold places above the Arctic Circle. Our overnight train leaves for Rovaniemi, a town 6 miles from the Arctic Circle, in a few hours and we're both excited to head north. However, we're not sure what we will do after we cross it. Readily available summer transportation has slowed its frequency at this time of year, and some ferries and busses may not be running at all in the Northern wilderness of Finland and Norway.
We are just going to arrive, head to the tourist office and see what lodges or cottages we can get to and talk to local folks from there. We might be heading to the fjords and Lofoten Islands of Northern Norway, or we might be heading right back to Helsinki. Either way, we'll see some reindeer, the official Santa and soon-to-be-frozen lakes along the way.
It's clear that in the short trip from Russia to Finland, we have entered a different world. Being hungry right off the train, we quickly found a cafe close to the station and walked in. We are used to struggling through menus in other languages and this one was in Finnish. However, what happened next did not happen for the last few months - a smiling gentleman approached us and said, in a slight Scandanavian accent "would you like me to translate for you?" Whahhh? It was true - we are now in a different and more familiar world.
The issue right now, however, is exactly which part of this world we'll see. Right now we have a place to stay tonight in Helsinki and that is the full extent of our future plans. Before us lies the whole of Europe and where we'll go next depends on which hour you ask us. Currently, we're considering at trip to Finnish Lapland - inside the Artic Circle. From there, maybe Sweden and/or Estonia and Latvia.
Phew! The Trans-Siberian Railway trip is officially over - we arrived in hip and modern Helsinki, Finland yesterday. Despite all the writing and videos on the train, we've fallen a bit behind - and we haven't even talked about Moscow and St. Petersburg.
We'll say more soon, but we both want to say a BIG thanks to Lilia, her sister Diana, and her friend Olga for showing us their Moscow. Lilia is from Moscow but lives in Holland and recently did an internship at Microsoft in Seattle, where we got to be better friends. We can't say enough about the generosity and hospitality of our Muscovite friends.
This is Sachi and Lilia over the Moscow River:
This is Olga with Matt (a fellow American traveler) and Sachi in Moscow.
And how can we forget Kuzya,the resident parrot, who can be bribed into speaking a few words for a pomegranate seed.