After flying for about 15 hours from Singapore to Helsinki, Finland, we took a domestic flight to Rovaniemi and that took another hour or so. Needless to say, despite being exhausted from the long flights, I was very excited at what was in store for us!
Rovaniemi is the capital of Lapland, which is the hub for all the winter and arctic adventures. It is like a centre and you can use it as a base while venturing out for the various activities.
It was rather late when we arrived at the very small airport at Rovaniemi. There was light snowfall, which made it feel like a Winter Wonderland.
We headed for our hotel, Original Sokos Hotel Vaakuna (not to be mixed up with the one in Helsinki), where we stayed for three nights. Should you be looking for a comfortable stay in Finland, you can consider Sokos Hotels, which is the biggest hotel chain in Finland.
To be honest, this hotel was the best among all that we stayed in Finland. The location is very central, with shops and restaurants just a stone’s throw away, ample space for two huge luggage, and the rooms are nicely furnished.
Also, it is very high-tech! The alarm clock can be set from the TV!
Our first meal in Rovaniemi is at Hai Long Restaurant. No surprise, you can find Chinese food everywhere! Globalisation at its truest form. Anyway, Chinese food is reliable there, tastes good and is easy on the pockets.
After dinner, we went exploring around the city centre and came across this beautiful cafe called Choco Deli & Bakery. Everything was so pretty I could not decide what to order. Other than cakes and cupcakes, they also sell chocolates.
In the end, I bought a blueberry cupcake (3 Euro). Beautifully piped and decorated.
The next day, we headed for Ranua Wildlife Park. As you can see, the daylight is muted and it is perpetually dusk. Daylight is from 9am to 2pm and you do not see the sun at all!
The park is opened from 1 June to 31 August from 9am to 7pm, and 1 September to 31 May from 10am to 4pm. You have to pay 17.50 Euro for adults, 15 Euro for children below 15 years old or 56 Euro for families.
Initially I was very excited because I would get to see all the arctic animals that I had only seen on TV, however when we got there, the most of what we saw were birds (so many I have taken that are not featured here)!
Many of the animals were not visible because they were either hibernating or huddled together for warmth in the heated shelters linked to the enclosures. Rarely did we see animals in the snow! We took our jaunt there like a stroll, enjoying all the snow which we do not get to see back home.
The lynxes, arctic foxes and snowy owls were the coolest animals we saw there. Did you know that the adult male snowy owl is pure white, but females and young birds have some dark scalloping? I guess the owls we saw there were males!
Failed selfie. An example of the heated shelters where a lot of the animals were sleeping in. The red fox was the only animal in a heated shelter which was awake.
Another really interesting animal we saw was the muskox. An interesting fact is that their gestation period is almost similar to humans! They are pregnant for about 8.5 months.
We hung out at the cafe next to the souvenir shop while waiting for the rest. Got ourselves a nice cup of hot chocolate in a cute winter paper cup and a slice of spiced apple cake.
Following our day at Ranua Wildlife Park, we went back to the hotel to grab some dinner and came across another cafe, Cafe Linna, in the heart of the city centre! The pretty light fixtures in the window caught our attention as we were walking past.
This is probably one of the best peppermint ice cream I have ever had! Pink and white candy cane swirls, clean refreshing taste accompanied with bits of peppermint in each bite!