Where to go for Winter ’19

Time to plan for Winter 2019, and with 2018’s winter trip to Finland’s capital Helsinki and Rovaniemi proving very successful, I’m just wondering where I should go to this year.

My winter trips are usually festive so, me what with a Christmas spirit. Furthermore my desired trip should preferably be with snow but its not necessary and hopefully with something new and different.

My Past winter trips have been:

The list I’m choosing from this year are:

  • Svabald (Norway)
  • Sweden
  • Manchester (U.K)
  • New York (U.S.A)
  • Santiago (Chile)

All are just a thought right now but where would you recommend is a good place for my next December trip?

Below is a quick video of last years winter trip to Finland.

 

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Still The Best Place I’ve Been

So ive been to a few more adventures since my mind blowing trip to Peru and to Machu Picchu. Firmly on top of all my places visited I have questioned if there is any place at all in the world that would knock Machu Picchu as the greatest place I can visit. I believed my Cambodian trip to Siem Reap would challenge Machu Picchu and although it came close, it just wasn’t enough to change my mind on Machu Picchu.
My current Top 5 Visited (click to see read blog or watch videos)

  1. Peru, Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu)
  2. Cambodia, Siem Reap (Bayon)
  3. Philippines, Cebu (Tison Falls)
  4. Finland, Rovaniemi(Lapland)
  5. Spain, Pamplona (San Fermin Festival)

“As mind blowing and spectacular as Bayon was, it just didn’t give me the chills that Machu Picchu gave me.”

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#2 Bayon

Please click below to see the post I wrote about the whole Machu Picchu.

https://sunandthreestars.blog/2018/04/09/aguas-calientes/

Is there any place that you think would beat Machu Picchu?

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#4 Finland, Rovaniemi

Travelling Around Tallinn

Travelling around Tallinn was one of the most difficult I have ever encountered around Europe in a tourist’s perspective. Not only was the journeys difficult, tickets were also confusing to obtain.  There were also only a number of modes of transport you can use as metro and trains are non existent in the city.

Walking- If fit the capital is small enough to walk around ,most of the attractions within the city are very close together, so walking is very convenient.

Bus –  The Buses in Tallinn was very cheap however, you can buy your tickets before you board from some machines situated in some stations, however this can be very difficult to find as there is not many around.  It is also possible to buy your ticket from the driver however this can be very difficult when the bus is full.

Trams- Similar to buses this vehicle is easy for locals but somewhat difficult for tourists. Reason being is that you have to buy tickets before boarding, usually done online which for tourists could be somewhat daunting. There are not many machines around and there is no way to purchase from the tram operators.

Taxi’s- Cheap compared to other countries around Europe but still expensive compared to the other forms of transport in the capital.

Back to “Two countries, three capitals”

 

 

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Travelling Around Rovaniemi

Travelling around Rovaniemi is not too difficult. There are only a few ways to get around the various attractions some more expensive than others.

Walking-  Within the city centre walking around is somewhat easy as points of interests and hotels aren’t too far from each other, the only difficulty may come from the snow (if travelling in winter). However from the city centre to the more outer attractions such as the Santa Claus village it would be a much longer and a little more difficult.

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Rent a Car – Probably the easiest and more convenient way to get around, nearly all the attractions and hotels have car parks. Traffic is also none existent here in Rovaniemi, however the only difficulty may come from snow and ice a dangerous feat for those not used to the driving conditions. There are collection points and companies near the airport.

Bus – I did not use the normal public buses so I know very little about them, however I did use the special tourist bus called the ‘Santa Express’ which travels to and from the airport, the city centre and all major attractions in Rovaniemi. The express bus only had limited times, I believe for when flights arrive or depart. It is easy to use but these buses can get very busy.

Tours – Probably the best way to get to and from your artic activities is a pickup/drop off which is usually included in any tours and activities you book. These are very convenient as all you’ll need to do is see your driver in the reception area and they’ll take you to the location you need, this way you can never be late as your driver will probably be your guide.

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Back to Finland Trips,
Back to “Two countries, three capitals”

 

 

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Rovaniemi

“One of the best places to spend Christmas”

Type : Family, Adventure
Best Date :  Dec-March
Expense :  Very expensive
Things to do : Northern Lights, Husky tours, Reindeer tours, Snowmobile, Snowshoe, ect
Points of Interest: Santa Claus Village, Santa Park, Arktikum science museum, city centre, ect
The Good: Festive, Many activities
The Bad: Expensive

Brief

Rovaniemi is a city north of Finland known to be the home of the world famous fictional festive figure Santa Claus. The city is also the capital of Lapland and is home to the Arktikum one more famed museums for science in the artic region. Rovaniemi also crosses the Artic circle which only covers a division of a few countries.

The Place

Rovaniemi was the second city I visited on my trip to Finland and Estonia. There are many reasons why I wanted to visit this winter wonderland, for snow, for the different winter activities, for the winter culture and finally as the city is famed for being the official home of Santa Claus the festive magic. I flew into Rovaniemi from Helsinki on a 1.5 hour flight and arrived early morning to a sleeping city (I guess they have late nights here). As check ins in many hotels are late around (3pm), an early arrival to the city proves a little difficult. First thing is first to try and drop my baggage somewhere then I am free to roam. The main thing to do is leave your luggage at your hotel (sometimes they may even let you check-in), but if you do not have a hotel ie Airbnb or apartment then there are various bag drops around the city including the airport and shopping centres. Furthermore it is a usual occurrence where visitors do not have the correct clothing for the winter weather. If you get caught out by the cold there are many places where you can rent winter clothing, accessories and shoes.

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Once you are ready, the city is a pleasure to roam, everything I write will be expressed in a winter season. Rovaniemi does not have plenty of attractions but the scenery around are some of the best picturesque scenery you will ever see. Take note that some places are within the city centre but others are a ride away, there is little public transport but if you join a tour or activities usually they will pick you up, other than that it may be a good idea to rent a car.

Firstly I’ll start with the main stage for Rovaniemi, ‘Santa Claus Village’ which is a multiplex resort famous for being the home of Santa. This attraction which is open throughout the year and has various accommodations, souvenir shops, pubs, restaurants, and a number of amusements making the attraction a world of its own. However the main reason why this place is so important and visited by masses each year is that this is the main place to see Santa Claus in the place he is known to live. When I visited, there was a little line. Furthermore, Santa’s post office is also situated here where you can send letters and the recipient will receive a special artic seal.

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The Arktikum is a magnificent science museum which fixates on the artic and northern studies. The museum is in my opinion the only major attraction within Rovaniemi city centre. Permanent exhibitions include “Northern Ways”, “Polar Opposites”, “Finland on the Coast of Artic Ocean” and the “Artic Change”. Further to that there are plenty of temporary exhibitions which changes occasionally. In my opinion the Arktikum is a brilliant visit whilst in Rovaniemi, its good to enjoy the Lapland and the artic but knowing the science behind it is equally as important.

Other attractions to visit  are Santa Park and Ranua zoo which I didn’t personally visit as I would expect these to be a heavily for families with young children. Santa park is a indoor theme park according to their website the best Christmas destination in the world. Situated near Santa Village this theme park includes elf schools, ice galleries, ginger bread making and much more alike. Ranua zoo which would be like no other zoo in the world as its animal residents are of the artic and northern species, including polar bears, reindeers, artic fox, brown bear and a lot more. This attraction as the name states is situated in Ranua which is an hour drive from Rovaniemi, there is daily bus service from Rovaniemi to the Zoo. However if you book a tour this will usually include the transport.

Apart from attractions people go to Rovaniemi for the many winter activities and tours. Popular activities include the reindeer sleigh, husky sleigh, snow mobile, snow shoe, ice fishing and many more. Tours include the aurora safaris, amethyst mines, Korouma and others alike.  There is numerous different activity and tour operators and each activity was very expensive so I only managed to do two, a husky sleigh safari with “Husky Point” and a night snowmobile aurora tour with “Wild Nordic”. The husky sleigh safari which  would normally need a minimum of two people was fun and a great adrenaline rush, it started from an early pickup from my hotel, gear fitting and a tutorial.  The sleighs were divided into two parts, the passenger and the driver which you will take turns, hence two people required however if you are a solo traveller like me you will be riding with the guide. The husky dogs were unbelievably fast and the scenes seen from the safari was unbelievable. After about a 20-30 minutes ride, you stop over a brilliant scenic hill top with a hut for berry juice and biscuits. After a changeover of drivers you will then head back and will be toured around their farm. After your time at the farm you will then be driven back to your hotel.

 

The night snowmobile aurora tour was also a fantastic experience, you will aswell be picked up from your hotel, dressed and go for a tutorial. You start by walking 10minutes to the location of the snowmobiles then after you will get further training on the vehicles. This particular tour was nice but there was little to nothing to see whilst on the trail. You will stop at a quarter point to check if everyone in the group is ok, then you will go ahead to the mid point where you will stay an hour or two to hopefully picnic under the northern lights. Unfortunately for me there was nothing to see and the chances was only a level 1. However all was not lost as the experience of the picnic under the night sky on a snowy swamp was unlike no other. The picnic included sausages and marshmallows to be cooked on the camp fire whilst sipping on some hot berry juice. An outstanding tour however out of the two the husky tour had more of an adrenaline rush.

Lastly Rovaniemi is just a pleasant region to roam whether within inner or outer edge of the city centre, forest or into the artic circle the capital has spectacular sights. The city centre is relatively small, there is various restaurants scattered around, a high street and two malls for shopping. The city centre has a few scenic walk paths on the edge of the centre one of which I took passes the Arktikum and has views of the frozen river. There is also an artic hike path which I wanted to take but didn’t have the time.

Conclusion

Overall Rovaniemi was everything I thought it would be, a heart warming winter wonderland for young families with winter activities for both young and old. Rovaniemi proved to be very expensive for nearly all the aspects of travel including transport, hotels, food, activities and also souvenirs. Nonetheless the city is a brilliant place to visit as there is something for the everyone. Although there is only a few attractions its beautiful scenery makes Rovaniemi great for photo opportunities. Best to stay for a duration of 3-5 days but this may be a little heavy on your pocket. It is ok to visit Rovaniemi as a solo traveller but it may be better to visit with someone as many of their activities requires a minimum of two people. In conclusion I highly recommend Rovaniemi as a festive trip for families to feel the full scale of the city’s magic, however travelling with friend or solo wouldn’t be bad at all as there is just so many things to do.

Back to “Three countries, two capitals”

 

Reference

https://santaparkarcticworld.com/santaparkhttps://santaparkarcticworld.com/santapark

Two Countries Three Capitals

My last trip of 2018 and I have decided to fulfil a winter trip north of Europe into Finland and Estonia. Whilst in these two countries I have decided to visit three capitals, Helsinki the capital of Finland, Rovaniemi capital of Lapland in Finland and finishing the trip with Tallinn the capital of Estonia.

I had an open plan and didn’t cement the duration of each stay so my trip depended factors such as activities and whether or not  there was much to visit. (click on the headers below to read more)

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First Stop Helsinki

Landing in Helsinki which will be a centre base for me. An easy public transport for tourists like me to use.

Next Stop Rovaniemi

Maybe one of the main purpose of the trip was to see Lapland and enter the artic circle. This winter wonderland really did shape the trip.

Back to Helsinki

I used Helsinki as my base so really as there was no flights direct from Rovaniemi to Tallinn. But instead of directly transiting through I thought to stopover for a night to visit other areas I didn’t manage to visit.

The Finale in Tallinn Estonia

A worthy relaxing end to the trip. Three days in the Estonian Capital, probably one of the most difficult public transport for tourists but once within the inner city a pleasure to get around by walking.

 

A year full of discoveries 2018

So its another year with plenty of trips being fulfilled. I have managed to tick off my hit-list it has been wonderful with plenty to write about. Last year (2017) I missed out a trip to Helsinki and Tallinn with the winter proving too expensive for me to finish the year off, however 2018 fulfilled this plan.

Below are just some of the places ive managed to visit, click on them to read some of my write-ups. Next year I already have plans to go to Cambodia, Turkey and Chamonix in France. Other places that are a possibility are Morocco, USA and a return to South America.

South American Trip

Sao Paulo, Mar 18First trip of the year and entering South America for the first time on a Brazil and Peru trip. The city was safer than I thought I used public transport and walked everywhere.
Lima, Mar 18 The Peruvian capital was a pleasure to visit, its museums were different to any other in the world.
Cusco, Mar 18 The city is beautiful, old churches and Incan ruins was out of this world. Be very careful when visiting this place as the high altitudes do affect people in different ways.
Ollantaytambo, Mar 18 One of the smallest but most beautiful places I have stayed. Me and my brother stayed next to a river with some of the best views of the surrounding river.
Aguas Calientes, Mar 18 The main stage for the world famed Machu Picchu, one of the best places I have been, truly majestic.
Rio De Janiero, Mar 18 As long as you’re extra careful Rio is a safe place to be, maybe a few money hustle form a few taxi drivers or vendors but other than those it is safe. Its scenery and beaches are some of the best in the world.

Wales Trip

Cardiff, Apr 18 A short weekend in the welsh capital, a place full of investment in order to establish it as a shopping haven.

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Philippines & Japan Trip

Manila, Jun 18 Its that time again where once a year I visit Philippines. A base to srelax before we head off to Japan.
Osaka, Jun 18 Our entry point in Japan, smaller than Tokyo but a metropolis nonetheless.
Kyoto, Jun 18 Beautifully preserved temples and religious places. Home of the world famed Geisha entertainers and the most cultural traditions preserved.
Tokyo, Jun 18 Last city visited in Japan, a beautiful busy metropolis. Very crowded and bustling 24 hours a day. Bright lights, most modern technology and cuisine were a huge plus for this city.

England Trip

Devon, Sep 18 A short weekend trip to the English country side, new attractions has been built in Ilfracombe attracted more tourists.

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Finland & Estonia Trip

Helsinki, Dec 18 The Finnish capital had little to offer in attractions however the beauty of the capital is its people, arts and history.
Rovaniemi, Dec 18 A true winter wonderland, the coldest place ive visited and the most magical place for families.
Tallinn, Dec 18 (post coming soon) Outstanding pagan churches, Medieval Castles and modern festive market. Spookiest place ive ever been to with many stories of haunted past on many building in the old town.