Day 1: Flight to Ivalo

Ivalo Travel Blog

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Way up north!
"Finland, Finland, Finland, the country where I long to be."
Finland - Monty Python

It was Easter 2010. The streets were absolutely deserted when I left the house at half past seven. If it hadn't been for an occasional car on the highway and a pedestrian in Eindhoven I'd have thought that I was the only man left alive. What a difference with a normal working day. The only similarity with a working day was me parking the car at the office. It was only a short walk from there to the train station. Since I'd arrived in record time I was actually able to get an earlier train to Schiphol, chilling away in an empty compartment and letting the pre-travel anxiety be replaced by the rush and excitement of another trip. I grabbed Kluun's 'God is Gek' booklet that Gijs had borrowed me for an interesting read in atheism versus religion while the train took me northwards.
Northern Lapland


I met Paul at the baggage drop-off at Schiphol. After stocking up on whiskey and Drambuie at the tax-free shop (come on, we need something to keep us warm in the cold, don't we?) we had a cup of coffee and caught up on what had happened since we said goodbye after our trip to Laos in November. Our Finnair flight to Helsinki was supposed to leave at 11:55 AM, but had a delay of half an hour. Not a huge problem since we had some time to kill at Helsinki airport before our connecting flight to Ivalo. And as we found out, Helsinki is not the most interesting airport to kill time.

Seven o'clock in the evening found us in the shuttle bus from Ivalo airport to Saariselkä.
Killing time at Helsinki Airport.
It was raining but by the time we reached the hotel the rain had mostly died down. The landscape was full of pine trees and rolling snow-covered hills. Indeed, besides the rain this was how we had pictured Lapland. We arrived at the hotel after a 30 minute drive and after the friendly receptionist gave us the necessary hotel information and our keys we quickly dropped our stuff in the room and headed back to the restaurant, just in time to grab something from the (not very impressive) dinner buffet. After a couple of cups of coffee we found a map of Saariselkä at the reception and decided to go and explore the town.

Walking around Saariselkä made it clear that it's little more than a collection of countless hotels and apartments, restaurants, gift shops and safari agencies.
This isn't snow yet Paul, don't jump!
This clearly proved that the town is indeed a popular winter sports resorts in Finland. Where the snow had gotten a bit slushy near the roads it was much nicer when you moved away from them. Our curiosity took us to the sled run, which lay deserted at this time of day. Of course we just had to grab a sled, climb the hill and slide down! Boys will be boys ...

After walking around for a while and finding all of the shops closed and the bar across the road emitting noises of Finnish Goth Metal we decided to go for a beer in the deserted bar of the hotel instead. Beer is indeed expensive with 5 Euro per 0,4 liters but not nearly as expensive as I had feared it would be. A last glas of liquor in the hotel room concluded our first day in Lapland.

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Way up north!
Way up north!
Northern Lapland
Northern Lapland
Killing time at Helsinki Airport.
Killing time at Helsinki Airport.
This isnt snow yet Paul, dont ju…
This isn't snow yet Paul, don't j…
Lapland from above.
Lapland from above.
Arrival at Ivalo Airport.
Arrival at Ivalo Airport.
Arrival at Ivalo Airport.
Arrival at Ivalo Airport.
Exploring Saariselkä.
Exploring Saariselkä.
Sled run by night.
Sled run by night.
Paul made a new friend.
Paul made a new friend.
Ivalo
photo by: eefab