Escape Travel Consultant, Rachel Cunningham, recently returned from an adventure through the heart of Finland. Inspired by an old friend who years ago encouraged her to visit his homeland, Rachel spent a week exploring the castles in Savonlinna before heading to Lapland to visit the big man himself, Santa Clause. Rachel said her most exciting memories of the trip were visiting the enchanting Santa Clause Village in Lapland and standing on the Arctic Circle.
“I met the real life Santa Claus! The Santa Clause Village is a really magical place in the North Pole. We visited in summer, so it was reasonably quiet but it was really cool to see all the kids getting excited to meet Santa. Entry to the park is free but you can pay to have photos taken with Santa,” explained Rachel.
“One great activity to do at the village is send home postcards from Santa’s personal post office. We wrote letters to our families and they were delivered six months later – just in time for Christmas!”
Rachel was also taken with the unique wildlife in Finland that freely roamed the streets and also often appeared on the menu at the local restaurants.
“The sheer amount of reindeer wandering around was amazing. Particularly out in the suburbs, it was common to see reindeer eating on the side of the road. On my first night in Finland, I ate reindeer for dinner and quite enjoyed it. It was prepared like a stew and tasted somewhat gamey. It is a common animal on the dinner plate in Finland,” shared Rachel.
Another memorable adventure for Rachel was visiting the Ranua Zoo, situated in the small town of Ranua.
“The zoo is an open air park with a large collection of birds of prey such as hawks, buzzards and owls. I went just to see the polar bears and was annoyed to find they slept the whole time! The zoo is now home to a polar bear cub, so it would be the perfect time to visit. I was also pleased to see other Arctic animals such as foxes, brown bears and wolverines. My favourite animal to watch was the lynx,” said Rachel.
Although Rachel has travelled to many destinations around the world, she recommends a visit to Finland for anyone looking to travel somewhere a little bit different.
“If you are heading to Europe, consider venturing to somewhere less travelled. Finland is a great mix of Russian and Scandinavian architecture and food. The beautiful countryside is dotted with castles but you also have the action of Helsinki which boasts great vodka bars and a lively music scene. Finland also has great infrastructure and is very easy to get around,” said Rachel.
If you are seeking your own Finland adventure, contact Rachel Cunningham on 03 8626 4500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Rachel is a consultant at Escape Travel’s store on Collins Street, Melbourne.