Vacations to South Asia seemed less motivating due to the corona situation, so I (with two of my friends) welcomed the opportunity to take a short break and explore further north of North Europe. Yes, it's Lapland and then entering the arctic circle. Our first destination was Rovaniemi, which is about 800 kilometers towards the north from Helsinki. Rovaniemi is a popular touristic destination and known as 'Santa's official home', so definitely meeting him was a priority and meeting Rangifer tarandus, Siberian huskies, too.
Cross the bridge and reach Norway: After spending a couple of days in Rovaniemi we
further traveled 1260 kilometers (from Helsinki) to my next destination 'Utsjoki Village- Sami Village', the last village in Finland. This village borders Norway with a population density of 0.24 inhabitants per square kilometer (0.62/sq mi). Never in my life, I saw such a peaceful border whose boundaries are decided by no artillery forces but by nature, a peaceful half-frozen mildly flowing river 'Teno'. It was such a different view from most of the South Asian countries. This pleasant scenario cannot be explained in any possible language, it is something that one must feel and experience within. Being in the northmost of Finland and inside the arctic circle, this village provides the best possibility to experience magical 'aurora borealis', also known as Northern lights. Again, we were lucky to have them flashing just over our cottage. Some captures by me, I tried and learnt Astrophotography after a long break from my camera.
I will end this post with an important concern. Tourism is one of the major livelihoods for people living in isolated places, not only in north of Finland but also in the rest parts of the world. Today, their livelihood is damaged by this corona situation. I think we were the only tourists during that time in the whole village. I had a short chat with our bus driver about the situation and what he said was, ' During the season, there used to be 30 fully packed buses operating in this route (Rovaniemi to Ivalo) and now there are only a few and maximum passengers are locals.
I am sure that the world will revive from this Corona and things will get back on track soon. But there is a more serious situation which would hit more strongly than COVID, and that is 'climate change'! Again, this year there is no snow in Southern Finland, and we all missed the snowy Christmas. This effect was also noticed in Rovaniemi and Utsjoki village. Snow activities, sports such as ice skating, ski, ice fishing, and snowmobile tours remained inoperative due to lack of enough snow. This problem of climate change is rapidly building up and might takes decades to resolve. If the trend continues then this would hit harder than any pandemic in the future. Merry Christmas and stay safe😊.