For the first few days in the Lapland, the weather went against all my hopes of seeing either the stars or the northern lights; the sky was completely covered in clouds, day and night.
On the third day, walking back from the center of Inari, I experienced almost a déjà vu of my first adventure here. Again pitch dark and again trying to survive the cold and the passing cars on the side of the road.
It was just 4 o’clock in the afternoon but already as dark as it gets.
Just moments before being rescued (once again) by Jussa’s father, I noticed a light in the sky. At first excited, I quickly realized it must just be a small hole in the clouds, from which a small spot of light was coming through – nothing like the clear sky I was hoping for.
It was just after dinner that the single spot was joined by a multitude of other lights.
Taking this as a sign, I started checking aurora forecasts regularly to keep an eye on the solar wind gauges. (Funny thing about the aurora forecast service: every day, a single guy, in Finland, checks the solar data, the sky and his gut feeling and updates the website with the forecast of the night.)
The arrival in Rovaniemi was nice and smooth, despite my host not being around at the time (she was working as a nurse at the ER). Her brother was there and he kept me company in the evening. We tried out the house-sauna and afterwards jumped in the snow. Freezing amazing! (quite lame, I am aware.)
Delimitation of the Arctic Circle (the blue light) at the Santa Claus village
Rovaniemi is a small town where the highlights are the Arktikum museum, the art museum and the Santa Claus village just on the outskirts.
As in Sweden (posts 1, 2, 3 and 4), I took the chance to visit the north of Finland during the winter break. I absolutely love snowy weather and, up until the end of December, there was no snow in Helsinki, so that pushed me to seek white-covered landscapes outside the city.
The trip had the usual mix of good planning and ‘let’s-see-what-happens’ that I like to have when travelling. The rough idea was to first stop by Oulu, head to Rovaniemi (right on the Arctic Circle imaginary line) and then somehow keep going north into the Lapland (hey, also the name of this series!).
So, only certain of my bus ticket and my Couchsurfing host, I headed to Oulu!
As a final trip before our departure, we walked just outside Shkodër to the Rozafa Castle.
The castle, due to its strategic location, has a very long history, dating back hundreds of years. It overlooks the whole area around Shkodër from its height.
View from the castle
Being very close to the border, we decided to stop by Ulcinj, a nice little town near the sea.
It was short day-trip to completely relax and, finally, enjoy a good swim in the sea.
Other than the numerous boats and water-scooters roaming the waters, the spot was a fair typical beach scene.
This was until a guy showed off his cool new gadget!
The boat trip on the Koman/Komani Lake (which, to be honest, kind of looks like a river to me) is a common destination for travelers, especially if they are interested in hiking in the north of Albania. In fact, this is the most beautiful and scenic way to get to Fierza (a small town where many hiking trails begin).
Since the hostel was in very close contact with one (possibly the only one) of the transportation companies bringing people from Shkodër to Fierza, we were given a couple of tickets for a day-trip on the ferry. Continue Reading
Working in a hostel, you often hear people visiting specific attractions or, perhaps, you might even be the one suggesting some of those places. For us, the problem was that we hadn’t had the chance to go around much in the first few days.
One of the many beautifully sunny days in Shkoder, we managed to get half a day off to bike around the town.
With our bikes, we knew where we wanted to go: Lake Shkodra. It is one of the main attractions of Shkodër and it’s just about 10 minutes away from the hostel by bike, we just had to go there.
We crossed a very unsafe-looking wooden bridge and continued onto a road which lead to the lake.