Finland - Lake Inarijarvi
Our trip into Finland had consisted of tree after tree and ice-blue lake after ice-blue lake, all connected by a very, very long and fairly straight road. We are now camped near one of the biggest lakes in Finland, Lake Inarijarvi.
Lake Inarijarvi is the biggest in Lapland and we had it almost lapping at our feet when we slept! The campsite is very well kempt but is owned/run by one of the most miserable couples we’d ever met! They even asked Simon to stop cleaning his teeth and go to the other room as they had cleaned the one that he was in! But they did have a good drying room so we managed to get everything we had been wearing in the last few weeks (actually we had been wearing the same clothes for most of the time) a good clean and actually get them dried all the way through instead of having to put on damp and wait to dry on us....uggh.
Over the next few days we got extremely tired, as we were always up and wide awake at midnight and later because it was just so bright. Most nights we would just get up and wander around the shore line of the lake, taking picture after picture of the most beautiful scenes – we took loads and kept most of them as we couldn’t decide which were the best.
It was here where we also managed to see the midnight sun properly with absolute clear skies.
During our stay here we managed to pick up more essential oils and spares for the bikes at Ivalo which was the nearest ‘big’ town. Simon also needed to service his bike as another 6 thousand mile service had come along. He spent most of the day in Ivalo and was given the space and tools to work by a local garage owner. That day I enjoyed a day on my own and walked into Inari and had coffee and spent my sisters, Caroline’s, money as she wanted reindeer skins and there were plenty here – if only I could have some sent home for me!! In the end I bought 3 skins and one pair of antlers for her – now some of you may think this is quite barbaric – but here reindeer are used (as they always have been) in their entirety. They are bred for this purpose and the Sami reindeer herders are still living in this area and still run things in the traditional way. After arranging for this parcel to be posted directly to Caroline at her London surgery, I treated myself to a beer, sitting in the sun! Bliss!
Our last day here was spent indulging in a little culture at the SIIDA museum. The Museum is dedicated to preserving the history and culture of the Sami people who have inhabited Northern Scandanavia for over 9,000 years. The 7euro entry fee was well worth every penny – so very interesting learning all about the Laplanders and Lapland itself – how it was formed and then how it recovered from the ice ages and glaciers that it has had to endure. The traditions and customs of the people, many of which are still held today. A full show was also provided of all the seasons, the length of daylight and flora and fauna that can be seen. With an outside exhibition of Sami houses and outhouses that were used up to quite recent (1950’s) this museum was one of the best I have been in for quite a while. In fact, it has really made me want to come back to Finland in the depth of winter in order to experience the snow and the twilight. Like most people A chance to see the aurora borealis would also be something to remember.
Even though we had a few days to go before we needed to make a move back to Norway and then the border with Russia, and despite enjoying the tranquility of Lake Inarijarvi, we decided to leave Inari. Initially neither of us mentioned to the other that we were getting itchy feet and had the need to move on but when mentioned we both were relieved that we were both feeling the same. So, on Friday 20th we left the Inari camp site and the grumpy owners and headed for Kirkenes, on the Norwegian/Russian border.