Finns are good with their hands. Many people here have some sort of handicraft that they do on the side. My cousin's husband Jani is the perfect example. He is a K-9 police officer by day and a blacksmith by night. In addition to beautiful hand crafted knives, Jani can whip up just about anything he wants. We had the opportunity to visit his working space which a few generations ago housed the local blacksmith. There were plenty of original tools hanging around from years past. So I had to ask...
"Can you make a bracelet?"
And so, Jani forged a personal bracelet before my eyes. Amazing.
So we were already in the Arctic Circle when we got to Lapland but my uncle had other ideas that had us heading towards the north pole. Nordkapp in Norway at 71.0189° N was our destination. This post covers our drive to and from Nordkapp (About 24 hours total). The goal was to reach Nordkapp at midnight to see the midnight sun since it never goes down. We stopped along the way for photos, saw a major reindeer migration (no big deal), I took a dip in the Barents Sea (COLD!), and when we got to the picturesque cliffs of Nordkapp after our 10 hour drive, we were sitting thick in the clouds with little to no visibility and little to no luck. And then we drove home. (WHAT!?!) For another 10 hours or so. We would've liked to stop and well, sleep, but my uncle and his friend had their own ideas and wanted to head back (crazy).
So this was our speed trip to Nordkapp. I have to say that the landscape was incredible! Vast & beautiful in a sort of lonely and desolate way. I really felt like I was on top of the world.
If you want to see what Nordkapp looks like sans fog, you can find more information here.
After our kota + sauna + bath day, we set out for Lapland with my uncle Risto and his friend Hari. We left around 10pm for the 8 hour drive up north into the Arctic Circle with 24 hours of sunlight.
Once we made it to our cabin, we rested up and headed to Timo's (Hari's friend) summer cabin which borders Sweden.
Risto and Timo's dog went for a dip in the river and we sipped on coffee made over the flame while I got ravaged by mosquitoes.
We are in Finland right now (2 weeks in + 2 weeks to go), finally with some good internet, so take a look at what our first full day in Finland looked like (after we slept off our overnight bus from Helsinki to Äänekoski).
My uncle Risto is a true mountain man. He can make anything with his hands and he could survive in the woods with just his knife. With that being said, he also built the trifecta of Finnish heaven in the middle of a birch forest.
Sauna + Kota + Bath
A Kota is a typical Finnish teepee type house used for grilling, warmth, and it always makes for a nice gathering.
Below you can see the Kota as well as the bath (filled with water from the nearby stream). Talk about nature being restorative. Typically you would migrate between the sauna, bath, stream, etc, until you worked up your appetite for a bite in the Kota.
Tervetuloa Suomeen! (Welcome to Finland)