Day 7: Stranded in Saariselkä

Saariselkä Travel Blog

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Bus stops ... but no busses !
Under normal circumstances this would have been the day we would fly back to Holland. However, because our original flight was full we had opted for an extra day in Finland since it resulted in the lowest extra costs with the most extra leisure time. We had therefore planned to travel to and fro Inari today. Inari is a small town but with seemingly quite a few things to do. It's located at the end of Lake Inari, Finland's third largest lake. Furthermore it's well known for it's Sami culture of the indigenous reindeer herders that used to live here. Inari offers a nice museum about their culture and history and some handicraft shops.
The road to Laanila.
So it seemed like a good bit of culture to end our Finnish adventure with.

Alas, some things are just not meant to be. Saariselkä and Inari are just 70 km apart, with the Ivalo airport right in the middle. So, one would think that it would be simple to get from A to B and back. Unfortunately there's no trains this high north, but there's a few busses that travel north every day ... except on Saturday. When we inquired at the hotel's reception yesterday the helpful girl informed us that the first bus to Inari would arrive in Inari at 14:40 hours. Okay, that would only leave us a couple of hours to explore the village, but better than nothing. Well, not quite, she informed us. The last bus from Inari back to Saariselkä left at 14:15 ! Half an hour before the first bus arrived.
The road back to Saariselkä.
Ridiculous!

Plan B. Let's take a taxi. Well, a one way taxi was 100 Euro. Auch ! On to plan C. Let's rent a car. Renting a car for a day was 120 Euro, still a lot of money. What's worse, we would have to pick it up at the airport and the earliest bus to the airport from Saariselkä would leave at 12:00 hours. To make a long story short, we tried all different options and it was basically impossible to go to Inari and back without being there for a very short moment and spending a ridiculous amount of cash. So, we came to the conclusion that we were stranded in Saariselkä for another day.

Well, we'd seen most of Saariselkä and spending a full day at the Panimo pub seemed like an unhealthy choice, so we decided to take a 'short' walk after breakfast. In the information office they had suggested we'd walk to the small town of Laanila last Monday.
Panimo Pub. Our second home in Saariselkä.
So, let's give that a try. One of the most boring walks of our lives took us to this one-horse town that consisted of an hotel, a few cabins and a cafeteria. Fortunately they had coffee and nice sweet buns at this place. We decided to walk back along the main 'highway' to Saariselkä. Sure, it was a slightly shorter walk but even more boring than the way to Laanila. By the time we got back to our hotel we had walked some 12 km and were quite exhausted. We had arrived just in time for lunch at Hotel Kieppi though, but this once again was so 'tasty' that we just had coffee and some bread and butter again.

We spend the rest of the afternoon buying some souvenirs (we found the traditional Tarva Schnappi Mikka had recommended) and drinking Talon Tumma at the Panimo pub. There was actually a small band playing this afternoon, and even though I wouldn't claim they were brilliant musicians, they did cheer up the crowd quite a bit.
The band at Panimo.
They even had a female singer from Inari that sang in one of the three traditional Sami languages. Seemingly, if we couldn't go to Inari, Inari would come to us today. Nevertheless, after one week I still have the feeling that I was the youngest person in Saariselkä and especially in this pub. If it wasn't for the beer ... ;-)

I was getting hungry, and with real hunger the restaurant at Hotel Kieppi was no real option. So we'd asked some people in Panimo for suggestions for dinner and ended up in a nice restaurant where we were served by a nice girl that had actually lived in Amsterdam for a while. We had the most excellent meal, the best we had in Finland so far. We started with toast with shrimps in dill and smoked salmon. Main dish was grilled reindeer in garlic sauce (we just had to try a bit of Rudolph while we're here) and dessert was a delicious piece of apple pie with ice cream.
I'm in heaven when I see the menu.
After so many days I had almost forgot what good food tasted like and what sense of freedom the choice from a real menu brings.

After some relaxing and packing at our hotel room we headed back for Panimo. It was a busy night there, seemingly because some skiing event had taken place in Saariselkä today. What's more, I was no longer the youngest person in the bar. There was a DJ playing groovy music and the later it got the more people were dancing, especially the teenagers. We had tried to get some money from the ATM but it did not take foreign cards today. So we had to save some of our cash for tomorrow's bus tickets back to the airport. Around midnight we bought our last beers with our small change. But then we noticed that you could also pay with credit card at Panimo, so we continued with this new method of payment.
Trying a bit of Rudolph.
Paul handed me his card and strange enough I was able to sign the bill without any problem, even after using the name P. Horny (Paul's last name is Hornman). As you can see, the humor got pretty corny, but it was a fun last night in Saariselkä. Tomorrow we would travel back home.  
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Bus stops ... but no busses !
Bus stops ... but no busses !
The road to Laanila.
The road to Laanila.
The road back to Saariselkä.
The road back to Saariselkä.
Panimo Pub. Our second home in Saa…
Panimo Pub. Our second home in Sa…
The band at Panimo.
The band at Panimo.
Im in heaven when I see the menu.
I'm in heaven when I see the menu.
Trying a bit of Rudolph.
Trying a bit of Rudolph.
Real food!!!!
Real food!!!!
Women are Naiset in Finnish. Tha…
Women are 'Naiset' in Finnish. Th…
Drinking the last bit of Talon Tum…
Drinking the last bit of Talon Tu…
Saariselkä
photo by: edsander