Rovaniemi, Finland

March 24, 2003
Weather: high of about 30ºF and sunny

As our Eurail Pass expires, we pick up the pace, trying to squeeze out the most miles from it. It seemed like one very long day from Stockholm to Rovaniemi. We stopped for lunch in the University of Helsinki cafeteria. Maybe Linus Torvalds ate there.

What do you think of when you hear the word "ferry"? I would have answered that question with a slow, flat boat that smells of diesel and can carry a few cars over a river. I wouldn't have thought first of glass elevators, circus performers and a conference center with wireless networking. This is our ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki.
I just can't get over the scale. I feel like there is no need to for me to go on a cruise vacation now. I know just what it will be like.
The view as we leave Stockholm is filled with little fishing villages and scenic lighthouses.
Our cabin isn't so scenic. There are 14 decks on the ferry. The fancy cabins are on decks 8 through 12. The cars and trucks are on decks 3 and 4. Our cabin is on deck 2. We can hear the engines all night. But that is nothing to the roar that wakes us up as we aproach Helsinki about three quarters of the way through our 17 hour crossing.
The sound of being inside an industrial strength washing machine, complete with the thunderous roar and jolts, turns out to be ice that we are plowing through. The scene is amazing: all flat and white as far as the horizon in all directions, except for a few freighters on this same route.
We don't stay in Helsinki for long. We go to the train station and catch the first train north through snowy birch forests and farms.
We get to Rovaniemi just before midnight. We wake up the next day on the edge of the Arctic Circle and walk around the town that was rebuilt after WWII to incorporate the shape of reindeer antlers. The walking and cycling paths are incredibly well-maintained and marked.
Rovaniemi is also home to the Arktikum Museum. Julie's tongue gets stuck on the pretty ice sculptures out front. You just can't take her anywhere.

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