Above and Beyond

After a LENGTHY bus ride yesterday from Rovaniemi to Inari where the driver spoke only a little bit more English than I do Finnish… luckily one of the words I needed to say to him was the number 3 and I have that down pat after our last trip here when I learned Michael Jackson’s ABC/123 song in Finnish…. why? I hear you ask.  I thought it would come in handy one day.  Anyway, I digress…. after the lengthy bus ride we were deposited right outside our hotel which is a great service…

We’re staying at a traditional hotel – Kultahovi which is owned and run by a traditional Sami family.  Our room has with a fantastic outlook over the river’s.  There is even a special small side window that you can leave open through out the night letting in fresh air and so you can hear the water.  We also have a sauna in the bathroom and a drying cupboard…. we may not leave this room – very cosy!

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Today we decided to wander around the village of Inari – the person at the hotel reception said that their ‘skyline’ consisted of one hotel, one shop, one supermarket, one ATM, one petrol station…. you get the picture.” A journey around the town wasn’t going to take too long, so we decided to take the scenic route… which Me Jenny is clearly happy about this decision!

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It was a little uneven to start with and there was concern about rolled ankles and the like…

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… but hands were held and we made it to the smooth path unscathed.

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It was pleasantly picturesque and we thought that the birds who lived in this house would be both happy to have such a view and annoyed that they were perched right on the walking track….. although they could choose to live literally anywhere else if they mad their own nest, so perhaps they shouldn’t be so whingey?

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The walking trail is called Juutua – and here’s a little poem about it for you all to enjoy.  Is anyone able to tell what style of poem it is?  Perhaps a style that needed the author to include the word ‘poem’ as many times as possible?

Joik:  A joik is a traditional form of song of the Sami people of the Nordic countries and Kola peninsula of Russia. Originally, joik referred to only one of several Sami singing styles, but in English the word is often used to refer to all types of traditional Sami singing. As an art form, each joik is meant to reflect or evoke a person, animal, or place.

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Our first stop was to visit the Siida Museum which tells the story and the history of the Sami people who are indigenous to the northern nordic countries – they were living here way before the countries put up boarders and separated themselves from each other.

So this is where we are in Inari – Finland, to me, has always looked like a lady in a long dress waving one arm…. she used to have two arms, but the Russians took that one back after the Winter War in 1939.

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Here is a bit of conundrum….  We were looking at this family tree and whilst I’m of the opinion that you can be or identify with any gender you please, we were a little confused at how back in the 1800s, when gender fluidity was yet to become a known thing, were these couples reproducing because Inga here…. looks like a man.

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I’ve also got my suspicions about Anne and Sara…

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and Joavnna has got a moustache!

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My friend Sarah commented yesterday that she was enjoying my reindeer facts, so just for you Sarah, here are a few more….

Each reindeer is tagged to mark ownership by cutting into these marking into their ears!  It looks quite barbaric, although the reindeer didn’t seem to mind too much in the video I saw – maybe they don’t have any feeling in their ears?

Just like the Iceland sheep herders do, they let the reindeer roam free during the summer where they eat berries and then at the beginning of winter the reindeer are all rounded up, put into a big pen and then sorted out so each herder gets their own reindeer to look after for the winter.

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I would like to know who designed this traditional dress and why…. although I did learn that each family/group/community has its own weave, like the Scots have their own family tartan.

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This is what it looks like to be excluded…. look at what happens above the Arctic Circle…. daylight stops….. and then for the other 6 months – it won’t stop!

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Now, I’m going to admit to you here that I didn’t know that wolverines were a real animal.  I thought it was just Hugh Jackman… but apparently, they do exist and we are sitting right in wolverine country right now!  They don’t look to savage at all, but I’m told they have the claws of Hugh – they don’t retract or anything, but they’re there, so we don’t want to get too close.

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In one section of the museum there was a photo exhibition of local Finlanders who had pursued different career avenues in the area…. there was someone in media, tourism, language, etc…. and then there was Jimi who is a professional breakdancer and studies handicrafts.  Good on him.  Follow your dreams Jimi.

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There is an outside exhibition as well showing traditional houses…

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Me Jenny thought she might like this one for her holiday home…..

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And I thought I could have this one for myself… since the are right next to each other and we all know that I don’t like to be too far away from me mother for any long periods of time.

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On the way out there was the obligatory visit to the shop.  They had lots of lovely things, but they were either way too pricey, too warm for us to use at home or made of wood which is too much of a hassle taking back to Australia.

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We headed into the village to check out the ‘skyline’ and the lady at reception was correct, there is only one of everything…. I mean, how many of everything do you really need?

First stop was the supermarket to check out the different wares…

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The we hit the restaurant for lunch…

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We tried the local beer…

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and sampled a reindeer salami pizza!

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A little walk to work off lunch took us down by the river and the marina.  I’m loving the Autumn colours up here.  Our guide back in Rovaniemi told us that in Autumn the leaves fall off the trees and then they are naked….. these yellow ones are almost fluorescent.

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The lake is crystal clear and we were quite glad there wasn’t a breath of wind because it was absolutely freezing!

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We were supposed to be going out on a lake cruise this evening to hunt for auroras, and we were hoping that it wasn’t it a boat like this, although it does have a fancy motor… but we’ve just been informed that because of the choppy waters, the tour will now be done by car.  Um….. choppy waters?  Well, I’d rather be in a car than one of these boats in 2° temps any day!

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There’s still 100% cloud coverage tonight, so it’s still not looking good for seeing the lights, but they’re giving us a 7% chance – and that’s still a chance.  Fingers crossed.

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