I’m excited about our road trip to Lapland when I walk over to my friend’s flat. The first thing he tells me is that we have good and we have bad news. The good news is that the car we rented, which he picked up the night before, works, the bad news is that you have to give it a little push before it does anything.
Renting a car comes with its risks, especially when you rent from an unmanned depot where you can pick up your car late in the evening. The boys that had to pick it up were struggling with the car for hours until they decided it would have to be good enough for the trip. It was this car or delaying our trip. They did ring the owner, but he was drunk and not really interested in what they had to say. The battery is obviously not good, but with a little push the car always starts.
In the morning we tried the car company once more, but nobody answered. Probably sleeping off their hangovers. We had some more people to pick up, so while we waited we kept the car running. We did the same thing when two of our crew had to go into town to get some money. It took forever and suddenly I saw smoke coming from under the hood. Screaming I ran to the front of the car and waved the boys over. The cooling liquid was boiling! One of the boys put snow on it, but of course we had had to turn off the car by then.
As if having a bad car isn’t enough, the boys couldn’t agree about what kind of fuel it needed. “No, what are you doing?” I heard one of them yell at the other, who was filling the car up. “This is a diesel!” I got more doom scenarios in my head about having to pump out the petrol and start all over again. Luckily there was a manual that said it just needed regular petrol. Crisis averted. Let’s just say some people could have had a better preparation for the trip. We pushed the car into our road trip. Even though we meant to leave town at 8AM, it was already 9.30AM.
By noon everyone had cooled down a bit and we were reassured that this car would actually take us around Finland. We had a long way to go to reach the very north: Lapland. We had our Finnish rental car and some friends in a Polish car. That seemed to attract the attention of the police. We were pulled over and started to get a bit nervous. We hadn’t done anything, but were we really going to push the car with the police watching? After they’d checked everything they wanted to check we just pretended we needed something from the boot of the car. When they were out of sight, we started pushing.
We had visited Oulu and the snow castle in Kemi on two quick stops. It was late, but we still had a long way to go to our cottage close to Rovaniemi. Suddenly we stopped. Up in the sky the northern lights were putting on a show. We just saw green light, but it was mesmerizing. We stood in the middle of a deserted forest road, gaping up at the sky. It was like we were in a fairy tale. The green lights moved with the stars in the background. Brilliant! At midnight we reached the incredibly luxurious cottage.
The next day our car was frozen. We tried pushing it again and again, but it wouldn’t help. Cars in Finland have to be plugged into the power to keep it warm enough, but we had forgotten about it. Luckily the musician of the group made a song about it on the spot and entertained us while we waited for the car to get going. At the next gas station we were told the battery was fine, but the starting mechanism was probably broken. Well, we’d have to deal with that later. A visit to the Arktikum museum in Rovaniemi was more important. Of course we were behind schedule from the start of the day and we didn’t have a lot of time there.
After Rovaniemi we had a long way to go until Inari, where I had booked accommodation at Sevettijärvi. I was ashamed when we finally arrived at 1 o’clock in the night. I had to bother those poor people to ask for the key of the cottage. We entered the cold cottage. It wasn’t that good, but the woman I woke up was very friendly and put the heaters on. We stayed a couple of days and saw Norway and a lot of snow.
On our way back from the north of Finland we passed a reindeer farm. Our curiosity brought us to a stop and we met the farmer who was very keen to show us around. He brought us an older, tame reindeer and left us alone for a while. Here stood ten people and a reindeer, all busy with a photo-shoot. Satisfied with our photos, we were shown around on the farm. The neighbor came by on a snowmobile and wished us a good day.
On the farm the reindeer were free to roam for most of the year. The farmer makes his money with reindeer meat. Besides that he had a little shop that sold reindeer skin and antlers. Nothing went to waste. For 3 euro I bought beautiful antlers. There were many of them as it is natural for the reindeer to lose them. They grow back just as our hair does.
On the way south the other car got into trouble. It wouldn’t start anymore. We then had to tow that car with our car. Can you imagine? We pushed our car so that it would start to tow the other car to the mechanic. Unfortunately this couldn’t easily be fixed, so the car had to stay for a few days and this cut our holiday short. With all the little problems we’d had, we were very lucky. We could have had this on a deserted road in Norway, but we were 200m from the mechanic.
After making sure the other would be fine, we started our long road home. We would drive throughout the night to reach our houses in Jyväskylä. It had been a long day, so we tried to keep the driver awake by talking and talking and talking. It started snowing, which only made the drive worse. When we arrived home , it was light. Everyone was exhausted. We couldn’t get to our beds quick enough.