After spending a couple of days in Helsinki I figured I had rested my ankle enough, and I wanted to head a little way out of the city. I installed the local Helsinki public transport app on my phone, and asked Google Maps for directions. Nuuksio (which I still have no idea how it is pronounced) was two busses away. I knew I didn’t want to be trying to get back to Helsinki in the dark, so I set out quite early in the morning, in the dark.
Day 2 was a little different to day 1. The weather was not on our side. Thomas didn’t want to head out until later in the evening to maximise the chances of seeing something. He met me at the hotel around 9:30 and we set off north. The biggest challenge tonight was to find clear skies, and to find them we were driving north.
One of the things I was most eager for on this trip was a chance to see the aurora borealis, or the northern lights. There are also the aurora australis or southern lights that occasionally pop up in the south of Tasmania, but due to geography and physics, they aren’t nearly as strong or prevalent.
When booking the holiday I looked around to find a guide to take me out to hunt the aurora. There were some options for self supported cabins in the far north of Finland, but that seemed a bit much. I found a guide, Thomas, who operated out of a town called Oulu, about halfway up Finland on the coast, that seemed to be a good compromise. I booked two nights, the theory being if we don’t have good weather on one of the nights I would get a second chance the next day.
We checked out of the hotel fairly with a big drive ahead of us. We headed north-west towards the border with Norway. There isn’t very much between Inari and Norway. Trees, some reindeer, more trees, mosquitoes, and rain. We managed to find a lot of rain and mosquitoes. Even though Norway is not a member of the EU, they are part the Schengen Area (like Iceland). If we blinked we might have missed the border crossing, just a tiny sign on the side of the road that said Norge.
We got up fairly early in the morning after a decent night’s sleep. Breakfast provided the usual affair of bread, pastries, eggs and fruit. With a polite sign asking that you didn’t make sandwiches to take with you. We got our stuff together and headed off for a walk to Pielpajärvi Wilderness Church. There was another car in the car park before when we set off, so we were pretty sure we were in the right place. The start of the track was a bit rough but was fairly easy going.
The next morning we enjoyed another hotel breakfast including eggs, bacon, sausage and numerous pastries before loading up our backpacks and heading out to find the Arctic Circle. Conveniently there are a few signs, and even a line on the ground to let you know where it is.
After a good sleep-in and a cooked breakfast in the hotel we caught a taxi to the airport. Dad tried to talk his way into the lounges, but none of them would accept his Qantas Club membership, despite our tickets being booked through Qantas for the internal flight.