Country: Finland, Sweden briefly
Distance travelled: A long walk from the hotel to Muonio.
Weather: sunny, about 5 deg
This morning we dragged ourselves out of bed about 8am to make it in time for breakfast. It was a good selection with choices that are usually available for a Scandinavian style of meal. I broke down and tried the coffee which I think was percolated and I found was better than I expected. Unfortunately I missed the carafe of hot milk so had to make do with cold. It was still an enjoyable cup. I will have to try percolated more often.
Mark spent some time over breakfast attempting to connect his new laptop to the local wifi network will frustratingly little success. One of his adoring fans (a following of which he gathered behind his camera last night as he reviewed each shot) came by and asked for a copy of some of our photos. His own photos from a point and click camera were a non event. Several attempts were made until he finally came up with a micro sd card that could be used. Success and one very happy French man.
We faffed around in our room until we finally committed to the walk into town as we didn’t have a cable or adaptor to allow charging of the laptop which has a UK power cable and, obviously, all the points here are european. I had remembered to pack the Australian adapters but hadn’t thought about this one particular cable. Our tour company representative said that the walk would be about 40 minutes and recommended we walk along the river, side trip over the bridge/border to Sweden and then on to Muonio so this we did.
The sky was clearing as we set out and we saw some loverly scenery on the walk up to the bridge. It is unseasonably warm here at the moment, we are told, with daytime temperatures in the range of 3 to 7 degrees above zero. We could see where the river which should be frozen over at this time of the year had in several places cracked and shifted the thick ice covering. It made me very alert to where the edge of the river actually was. I’m sure we were safe on the well trodden path we were using but this is a situation I have no experience with so I was taking extra care.
After a while we reached the road to Sweden. It is very strange to be able to change countries and time zones just by walking across a bridge. At either end of the bridge were signs saying Finland 100m or Sweden 70m but we found an old sign in the middle of the bridge indicating that the border actually runs down the middle of the river. Mark took the obligatory tourist photo of me standing with one foot in either country.
From there we trudged up into town and did a quick tour of nearly every store in Muonio until we found someone who could sell us a cable for the laptop. We expected to find quite a lot of foreign country to Europe power adapters but there wasn’t one and we only found one Europe to elsewhere type of adaptor. I suppose most people who visit here are from other parts of Europe so don’t need adaptors. A quick taxi ride back to the motel, and we decided to have an afternoon granny nap so as to fortify us for what we hoped would be a long night of aurora photography ahead.
The rest of the people in our tour party had arrived by dinner time. There was Carl from somewhere in the south of England and Ann and Kevin from Scotland. Just on the edge of the highlands they informed us. Ann is the keen photographer of that pair and Kevin is along to carry her kit. When he isn’t studying for his pilots license anyway. Katrina came over while we were eating dinner to tell the group that since it has been so cloudy in the area of Muonio, the tour company was offering to have our guide drive us to Kilpisjärvi on the off chance we may get clearer weather there. They would arrange two nights accommodation with various outings and we would be driven back on the Friday morning to Harriniva for our final night before our flight back to England.
General consensus among the group was that this sounded like a swell idea so we all agreed. Katrina gave us the details of our planned activities for the next day, we finished off dinner and Mark and I went back to our room to rug up for another excursion down to the frozen river to see if the sky had stayed clear and if there was any aurora activity.
We were in luck and spent close to four hours standing out under the clear sky. The crowd around us ebbed and flowed as people came and went. One group of Italians were particularly lucky to be there during the best part of the display. Their cries of Bravo! echoed across the snow. Unfortunately their torches flashed around a fair bit too which wasn’t quite so good for everyone else’s photos. It was close to 1am by the time we finally gave up and headed back to our beds. If it hadn’t been for the necessity of an early start in the morning we would have stayed longer.