How to see all sides of Finland in two days

The original plan was to take five days to drive to the Arctic Sea and back, but my lovely travel companion and best friend Katri had to work for most of the week so suddenly we were down to two days. A smarter girl might’ve called it fair game and decided to turn the ambitious roadtrip plans into a shopping spree in a city an hour away, but because we both are more ambitious than smart, we chose to just slightly adjust the plan. Epic (and probably uncomfortable and very, very wet) camping trip to the far North turned into a two-day car extravaganza to a hotel night in Santa’s city. Approximately a thousand kilometres and so much food later I strongly think this two-day getaway was the best thing ever. So here’s to you, whose excuse to not travel is lack of time,

Exiting Hailuoto
Manamansalo
The road never ends. Somewhere south of Lapland.
The plan was as much as to drive up to Rovaniemi and then back to Iisalmi. Our ride was my trusted Ferrari, which, as the pictures deceptively let on, looks a lot like a regular Toyota Corolla. (If a car’s red and low, what else are you gonna call it though if not Ferrari?) The plans what to see on the way were pretty much put together in an hour, on Facebook chat, at least half of the party hungover. Considering… No, actually, I’m not gonna say ‘considering’ because without considering anything, the trip was great. However… I have never driven that much in two days in my entire life. Now, I am a decent driver (despite once having driven my car into a ditch but that’s not relevant to the story so yeah) and I enjoy being behind the wheel, but I just kept having these really vivid scenes in my head where I’d splatter a reindeer and us on the road in a head-on collision at 100 km/h, or where we’d run out of gas in the middle of the sticks and have to walk somewhere to ask for help and be kidnapped by that guy in Human Centipede, or where I’d be stuck on a highway behind a tractor doing 40 and I’d have to – gasp! – pass it!
We were set for catastrophe.
On a car ferry from Manamansalo
Rovaniemi

This is not a timed post so I guess it’s clear that we didn’t die. We never even swerved off the road or hit a forest animal! Aren’t you proud of me now, mum? To be honest, we never had any trouble with anything I thought we might do. For the next (and hopefully longer) roadtrip though I would like to list a few key things to take into account. Take this as a note to self.

Get a second driver. Katri is the best travel companion in the history of travel companions, and she even brings food with her! The only fault is that she doesn’t drive. Had the trip been any longer, I would not have been able to recover from hours of staring at an empty road and they would’ve had to put me there where they keep Joker.
Make sure your music works. You’d think I would’ve learnt, right? I’ve done a month-long roadtrip with only five different CDs in the car, so I thought this time I wouldn’t make the same mistake and I would have all the music. Only if I had checked beforehand that my mp3 is compatible with the car radio! Optionally, you can occupy the shotgun seat with someone who doesn’t have the magical talent to always tune in on a radio station as the commercials start.
Get maps. Like, physical maps. When you’re out in the woods and your Google Maps stops working, you may regret laughing my advice off. Also, while we’re at it, make sure you travel with someone who is good at reading maps especially if you are me and would accidentally end up in Greenland if someone wasn’t there to tell me which exit to take at the traffic circle.
(We actually had physical maps with you so this is just a reminder to do that again.)
Know your car. I spend the morning before our departure studying all the street signs and dashboard lights, you know, just to be sure I knew them. It’s also good to have an idea what sort of noises are normal for your car and which are not, and also to keep an eye out for the gas tank so you don’t get hysterical when the light signifying that gas is low suddenly pops up.
Reserve more time for stuff. Stuff is cool and stuff is important, especially if you’re taking on 500 kilometres to see stuff. Of course this is a stupid piece of advice when the whole point of this post is to show how little time you actually need for a getaway, but I’m just saying that there would’ve been things on the way that we were talking about seeing but then just didn’t. So maybe next time leave a bit earlier or something? Finland is the perfect country for roadtripping in a sense that in the summer it doesn’t get dark, really.

Hailuoto
Hailuoto
Hailuoto

So, what did we actually see? We saw a baby reindeer and it’s mother. We caught a car ferry to Hailuoto, an island populated by odd 1,000 people, and for the first time all summer walked barefoot on the sand. We drove on roads surrounded by fir trees and birches and swamps. We stepped on it on the motorway and slowed it down on the gravel roads on the countryside. We drove on pretty much all kinds of roads imaginable and sang along to songs we only knew two lines from. We talked about relationships and shouted at people on the radio that knew nothing. We had dinner with a sea view and a breakfast so big that we left behind an amount of dishes that a small family might’ve used.

Manamansalo
Hailuoto
Manamansalo

We visited Hailuoto in the north, near Oulu, and Manamansalo in the middle, near Kajaani. Both are stunning places with tons of natural beauty and nice beaches, although they might be too cold for swimming. Next time I would like to take a bit more time on the western route to the north and venture a bit further from Rovaniemi (did you know the Arctic circle runs through the city and Santa lives there? If that’s not cool then I don’t know what is). Finland really is such a stunning country, but it is easy to forget as I travel to all these amazing places around the world, and it shouldn’t be so. In the future I will definitely try and get to see more of this beautiful country.

Hailuoto

Oh. And since it’s already past midnight, it means I’m travelling to India tomorrow. Tomorrow! That is so insane. The blog will most likely be mostly quiet until the end of August, but endure with me because I will be coming back with some awesome stories to tell!


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