I’m a big fan of Christmas, so once I found out Santa lived in Finland’s Lapland, it was on my list of places to visit. He’s situated along the Arctic Circle at Rovaniemi in The Santa Claus Village.
We’ve been in Finland for 2 days now and after the two small Reindeer we saw in Sweden, we’ve now seen 44!! They really are everywhere, driving might be uneventful in terms of the scenery is all the same here, lovely and peaceful, but just flat, forest and lakes. But to have the excitement of a reindeer walking out infront of you is amazing.
Yylas area is taken over by reindeer in summer. It’s a ski village and the hill was rather ugly, like a big grey mound; though I’m sure it’s magical in winter time and they even have the worlds first gondola sauna! We saw two small groups of reindeer here and a few had massive racks, like 1m high, I don’t know how their bodies support it. You could literally put planks of wood in the antlers and make a small house for a child – their that big! We’ve also seen a couple of albinos and woke up to a family of three walking past the back of Pablo.
So Santa Claus… The Santa village has souvenir shops, restaurants, accommodation and the main post office. The post office was really cool, so far it’s received 165 million letters from 198 different countries, and at Christmas time gets around 32,000 a day!
There were a few letters from kids that you could read, they were very sweet. One girl asked to be braver, another just wanted a high school musical DVD, and one had a list of questions for Santa, like how do your reindeer fly if they don’t have wings?
We headed into a building which said ‘meet Santa this way…’ So off we went, it led us around scenes of Christmas in various country’s and then I spotted the man himself. Sitting so still I thought he was a statue. He was clearly in a fake beard (3ft long!!) and lied to my face when I asked him about it. He asked us a few questions but the conversation wasn’t really flowing, he had a strong accent and wasn’t bubbly and welcoming like I expected him to be…what an anti climax.
Never mind! We wondered around the village and into some other buildings, and then saw a sign saying ‘Meet Santa Here’ whaaat? We just met him!! Something dodgy is going on here! Craig said he didn’t want to meet another Santa but I insisted he came with me, he was grateful for the air con at least. We went through a door and into a cave like area with colourful lights and fake ice floor, this was more like it!! We were led upstairs and sat by an elf while we waited our turn. Oh god was it awkward, clearly the elves job was to make conversation with you while you wait to meet Santa but it was so cringy. She was acting like we were kids, really got into character, and going with the elf theme. She asked us how long we were on holiday for and we said 1 year, at which point a couple behind us butted in and asked her if they could meet Santa quickly due to their bus leaving in 6 minutes. It was a funny scene, two 50 year olds saying “we don’t want a photo, we just want to meet the man”.
They asked us if they could go first, of course they could, I mean, imagine if we said no when we have 12 months and they have 6 minutes. But all I was thinking was – fuck I don’t know if I can handle another minute of conversation with this elf! Seeing as we had to be ‘nice’ we let them through.
Wow, now this was Santa!! He was warm, and welcoming, opening his arms for us to sit either side of him. The first thing I asked him was “we just met Santa Claus in another building…care to explain?!” He was actually a very amusing man with a contagious laugh. He brushed it off well, cackling and saying “oh, no, I know nothing of this, maybe he’s an imposter!”. I also asked him the classic: “How do you get down a chimney?” – “well, you do it enough, and it just happens, but it’s a lot easier in Finland, they don’t have chimneys so I just knock on the door”. “Surely your shirt gets covered in soot?” – “oh this white shirt, yes, a little, I change into a fresh one after every house. I carry more shirts than presents!”. Funny man. The elves film the whole meeting and photograph it, offering them at the end for a bargain of €35!
So that’s it Santa seen, and thank god we saw the 2nd one as that first bloke was like those pathetic ones you get back home, like someone picking up temp work and shoving the red suit on.
Sadly Santa didn’t give us what we asked for, a new SatNav, as ours has just died right before Eastern Europe, right when my map also changes to a pathetic scale. We also asked him to see moose, to which he wished us luck…