Northern Finland has been glorious. We have really got into our groove here and are feeling very much at home. There is a comfortable sense of predictability about our days which are made up of a combination of the same experiences: gathering and gorging on the abundant forest berries; spending nights drinking hot chocolate & brandy and looking out for the northern lights; sweating like mad in hot and steamy saunas; hiking through never ending forests and over misty fells; tucking into a tasty hot sausage by a roaring camp fire; and swerving round herds of reindeer as we drive ever northwards.
The towns, or should I say large spread out villages with not much more than a petrol station and a couple of shops, have provided limited sightseeing. Our time has consequently been focused on the great outdoors and we have clocked up hundreds of kilometres hiking round the trails of the numerous national parks and reserves. They are too many to mention but probably the most spectacular was Oulanka National Park with its powerful flowing river and deep gorges where we walked the stunning "Little Bear" trail.
We had one memorable night where we left the comfort of the van behind and slept in a 3 sided shelter in the Korouoman National Park. It was remarkably cosy and we were warmed by a camp fire.
We crossed the Arctic Circle during this stage of our journey which was a major milestone and of course we got the requisite photos as we went over the line. As we relentlessly drive north the weather has been getting progressively colder. Thankfully there has been no snow (yet!) but we are now wearing many more layers, have the winter duvet out, and are even occasionally putting the heating on in the van ;-)
So far the Northern Lights have evaded us. Despite hours of waiting and watching fuelled by numerous cups of hot chocolate all we have seen is a faint green mist on the horizon. As we travel further north our chances should improve and all we need is a couple of good clear nights and our patience should be rewarded!
Having finally run out of road in Finland we are now crossing to Norway where we will soon turn south and begin our long journey home.