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  2. Tim

    Granada 2014 - A stroll around the cathedral

    During our visit to Spain in 2014, we visited the town of Granada with the intention of seeing Alhambra. Before we got to the final destination, we strolled around the cathedral and environs.
  3. Clare

    Day 3: Mdina

    Our flight home was at 17.15 on Monday evening, so before that we just had time to fit in one more day trip. Our destination for the day was Mdina, an ancient walled city located to the west of Valletta. We were aiming for a bus at 09.30 so we made a fairly early start yet again, checking out of the apartment and getting breakfast on the way to the bus station. The bus turned out to be horrendously busy once more, but luckily we did manage to get seats We had to keep an eye on our location throughout the journey, because Mdina was not the terminus of the bus. After around half an hour on the bus, a stop called Rabat was announced and we decided to get off there. Rabat, not to be confused with the Victoria/Rabat which we visited on Gozo yesterday, is the more modern town which borders Mdina. The name Rabat apparently comes from the Arabic word for 'suburb', which is why it crops up a lot in place names! Our first impression as we stepped off the bus was that Rabat itself looked quite scenic. We crossed the road and soon got our first view of the Mdina walls. Behind the walls we got glimpses of various towers and turrets. The main gate into the town looked rather imposing. We walked through the gate and began exploring the city. Mdina used to be the capital of Malta, from ancient times until the arrival of the Knights of Malta in 1530 (who selected the area around Valletta as their capital). Today the walled city only has a population of 300, although we did notice that despite that it has its own police station. We can't imagine the police here have a lot of work! It was another very sunny day, but the narrow little streets were nice and shady as we wandered around... ...and there were some little arches, like those we had seen in the citadel on Gozo yesterday. Mdina is sometimes referred to as the 'Silent City', which is partly a reference to the fact that it never regained the importance it had prior to 1530 and partly also due to the fact that there is supposed to be no traffic (only a limited number of cars belonging to residents). In some places it was indeed very silent... ...however, in other places it was difficult to take good photos because the streets were full of vans, unloading goods to the shops and restaurants within the walls. I guess that was a hazard of visiting on a Monday morning! At the far end of the town we were able to climb up onto the walls, giving us views out over the countryside. Initially I wasn't sure which direction we were looking in and thought perhaps the sea we could see was the west coast of Malta (because we had travelled west from Valletta to get to Mdina). Later we realised that we had actually been looking at the east coast, in the direction of Valletta, which shows that Malta is really not a very wide island! As with everywhere in Malta, there were lots of churches in Mdina. This square was in the centre of the town... ...and was home to the cathedral of St Paul, which had an interesting dome. The best views of it were probably from further away. We successfully managed to walk around all of the old town before the majority of the tour groups descended, then went outside again to walk around the outer walls. It's too small to make out properly in the photo if you don't know what you're looking for, but from this viewpoint at the edge of the walls we could actually see the dome of the church which was on the same street as our apartment in Valletta. We still had some spare time before lunch, so we decided to explore nearby Rabat, which the guidebook had said was also worth seeing in its own right. Rabat had its own massive church, complete with dome. This one is also named after St Paul. St Paul is a particularly popular saint in Malta, because he was shipwrecked here during a bad storm when he was on his way to Rome. Even more than seeing the churches, we enjoyed strolling around the quiet little streets.... ...and seeing more beautiful Maltese balconies Eventually we found a nice restaurant where we sat outside and both ate large pizzas, followed by ice-cream, in the sunshine Then it was time to catch the bus in the direction of the airport. There are two buses which go directly from Mdina/Rabat to the airport, without the need to go back into Valletta and change. The first of these, the X3, is an express bus which goes straight to the airport. We caught the second bus, the 201, which takes a slightly longer (but much more scenic!) route. Unfortunately the windows of the bus weren't good enough to take any photos out of, but we were treated to some brilliant views as we made our way across Malta to the western coast and then proceeded to follow the coast for several miles. In particular, we had fantastic views of the very steep Dingli cliffs, which definitely look like a place worth visiting if we come back to Malta again. This side of the island seemed much less developed than the other coast and so we drove through plenty of countryside before finally arriving at the airport. We were flying back with Thomas Cook and first impressions weren't very good. The instructions I'd had when booking the flight said that we needed to be at the airport three hours in advance, which seemed a bit excessive, and while we hadn't got there that early, we had arrived earlier than we normally would have done, in part because it hadn't been possible to check in online. It seems that you can only check in 24 hours in advance of your flight, which makes it difficult to print a boarding pass, and while there is some sort of Thomas Cook app, it didn't like my booking reference (perhaps because we weren't on a proper Thomas Cook holiday). We were quite annoyed though, having arrived at the airport this early, to find that while check-in was allegedly open according to the airport screens, in reality there was just a growing queue of people in front of what appeared to be a closed desk! We waited and waited and waited... for over an hour in total. Apparently there was some sort of issue with Thomas Cook's systems which meant that the people manning the airport desks didn't have the names and details of the people who were supposed to be on the flight. It was all sorted out in the end but it was rather a frustrating experience and meant that we didn't have time to do much else at the airport except get through security. The flight back was fine though and we have had a really lovely weekend Malta is beautiful, the weather was absolutely perfect, and it definitely felt to me like we had been away for longer than three days.
  4. Tim

    Evening 2: Valletta

    It's been a long day, not least because we've travelled from one island to another and back again. Add on the time it takes to upload photos from your phone when the whole thing seems determined to time out, then the requisite time to put together a blog entry and BOOM before you know it, night has fallen. In which case, it makes sense to head outside for a stroll, don't you think? We'd noticed that lots of churches and large buildings had lightbulbs draped around them, so figured we'd get to see the landmarks illuminated. That wasn't the case; since it's still winter here, at least as far as the pricing system goes, maybe it's deemed that not enough eyes will be on the buildings. But even in the standard lighting, things looked lovely: Buildings like the Palace of Justice looked suitably impressive, even in the lack of natural light: And it was easy to make out the old-style British telephone and postboxes: As best we could tell, the only thing missing was the royal insignia, although we'd found some pre-independence GR ones. St John's Cathedral wasn't being left out: And the national library looked fabulous too: The same can't be said of the parliament: The locals call it the Cheese Grater. You can see why. In the corner of the photo you can glimpse the Triton Fountain. We headed towards it. It looked great! We soon realised that it was changing colour too, although only subtly: Up close it really was an impressive sight:
  5. Clare

    Day 2: Gozo

    I could have slept indefinitely this morning after yesterday's early get-up, but I'd planned a trip with a fair amount of travelling for today so we needed to make a reasonably early start this morning, with our first bus at 09.25. We actually ended up being ready with a bit of time to spare, so after breakfast we had time for a short stroll along some of Valletta's city walls. From here we had a great view of the fountain and the church in Floriana which we had seen yesterday. We walked through some shady gardens... ...and had a view out across the opposite side of Valletta from where we had been looking yesterday. From this side you can see how built up the surrounding area really is! Our aim for today was to visit the island of Gozo, Malta's second smaller island, located to the north of the main island that we were on. There is a regular ferry between Gozo and Malta, which was running every 45 minutes today and which leaves from the harbour of Ċirkewwa on the northernmost tip of Malta. The bus which we needed to catch would take us across the island from Valletta to Ċirkewwa, a journey which takes a bit over an hour. The bus was punctual at 09.25 and the fare of €1.50 seemed like a real bargain for such a long journey. It started off fairly quiet and peaceful, but as we progressed along the route the bus picked up more and more passengers until soon they were crammed and standing in the aisles. We were glad we had got on at the start of the journey and been able to secure seats! As the bus drove through central Malta, I thought we might have had some interesting views. For the first 45 minutes of the journey, however, all we saw were towns sprawling into one another. This part of Malta seems to be just one big conurbation, which I suppose is not surprising when you consider that the population of Malta is around 445,000, of which only 37,000 live on Gozo, so the rest all have to fit onto the main island somehow. Towards the latter part of the journey the views did improve, as we left the urban sprawl behind and instead had views of the rather dusty-looking countryside and, of course, the sea I'd investigated the idea of a day-trip to Gozo originally because I had read in the guidebook that it was quieter and less busy than the main island. I was therefore surprised at quite how many people seemed to be squeezing onto the bus the closer it got towards the ferry terminal. Perhaps there was some great Maltese tradition I didn't know about which involved travelling to Gozo on Sundays and the whole place would be overrun?! It turned out I needn't have worried; over half of the bus ultimately got off a few stops before Ċirkewwa, in a town which seemed to have a sandy beach with an awful lot of sun loungers! We arrived in Ċirkewwa a bit earlier than I'd expected and so there was a ferry sitting waiting in the harbour to depart. The journey across to Gozo takes around 25 minutes and is a bit unusual in that you don't have to pay on the leg from Malta to Gozo, but only when returning from Gozo to Malta. It was a big boat and we were able to sit outside on the deck, which was fun As we set off we had views of Malta's third island, Comino, which has a resident population of only four people. Once we were past Comino, we go our first views of Gozo. The ferry docks in the town of Mġarr (pronounced im-jar). The guidebook had made it sound like a bit of a metropolis, but it was actually pretty small. The harbour area was pretty though... ...as was this interesting church on a bit of a hill above the town. We climbed up a series of staircases to get to it, though once we were closer it was actually harder to take a good photo of it. From up high we did have some nice views out across the sea though. Having exhausted the sights of Mġarr, our next aim was to catch a bus to the capital of Gozo, Victoria (also known as Rabat). The reason for the two names is that the town was originally called Rabat by the Maltese, but was officially renamed to Victoria by the British in 1887 in recognition of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. Victoria is only 6km from Mġarr so we could technically have walked, but it didn't look like the road would have a pavement and some of the driving in Malta seems a bit erratic. Luckily there are several buses which leave from the harbour in Mġarr and head towards Victoria (in fact, according to the guidebook there is only one bus on Gozo which doesn't go to Victoria!) and so we were able to catch a bus in the right direction almost straightaway. After a short journey, we stepped off the bus in Victoria and immediately had a view of what looked like a beautiful church. We walked in that general direction and soon found ourselves in a busy square. On the other side of it we found the seventeenth century church of St Francis. As we were admiring the church, we noticed something which looked rather familiar from Valletta. The people of Gozo seemed to have put up stars to celebrate their football victories as well Maltese football must be very competitive! From here we turned off onto some little side streets. As we walked up one of them, we got our first view of St George's basilica. The basilica was built in 1672 and it looks enormous. Again, from up close it isn't possible to see the church's huge dome, though. We walked through another nice little square... ...and noticed that in Gozo they have the enclosed Maltese balconies too We were planning to visit Victoria's citadel, and as we climbed higher up towards it we were able to get a proper view of the dome of St George's basilica. Eventually we arrived at the citadel itself, but we were unsure whether we would have to pay to get in. We saw a sign saying something about tickets for €5 inside, but it turned out these were only if you wanted to go into the visitor centre and a couple of museums. The majority of the citadel can be explored for free. The fortifications here date from medieval times, when a castle was built to withstand attacks by the Ottomans. Unfortunately it was not entirely successful, and the castle was ransacked by the Ottomans in 1551, with the majority of Gozo's population being captured and enslaved. The fortifications were then rebuilt and strengthened between 1599 and 1622. One of the largest buildings within the walls is the Cathedral of the Assumption. This was built in 1697 after the original church was damaged first by the Ottomans and then by an earthquake. There was one tour group being guided around the citadel, but once we got away from them it was fairly quiet and we were able to wander round and explore in peace We strolled along narrow walkways... ...and soon had some lovely views, both of the cathedral... ...and of the surrounding countryside. I particularly loved the little archways.... ...and the views out towards this beautiful domed church in the distance. Churches with domes seem to be really popular in Malta! It was from up here that we could get the best view of the dome of St George's basilica as well We were quite tired and hot by this stage, so we headed back down into the centre of Victoria in search of somewhere to have a late lunch. We found a nice little place where we were able to get a spaghetti with ragu, before beginning our rather long journey back home, with a bus from Victoria back to Mġarr, then the ferry from Mġarr to Ċirkewwa, followed by the bus from Ċirkewwa back to Valletta. The journey all went smoothly, except for the bus from Ċirkewwa. When the ferry arrived there was a horde of people waiting for the bus which was supposed to arrive in 10 minutes... but didn't arrived until nearer 30 had passed. We were extremely lucky that the bus driver happened to pull up relatively near to where we were standing, and so we managed to fight our way on and grab seats, despite some very aggressive pushing and shoving from Maltese pensioners We had a lovely day in Gozo though, and it was definitely worth the journey for views
  6. Tim

    Granada 2014 - Inside the Palacios in Alhambra

    We visited Alhambra during our visit to Spain in 2014. The Palacios were simply out of this world!
  7. Tim

    Granada 2014 - Riverside Walk

    During our trip to Spain in 2014 we visited Granada. Before heading to Alhambra, we took a stroll along the river.
  8. Tim

    Granada (Alhambra) 2014

    Our trip to Spain in 2014 featured a magnificent day walking through the gardens of Alhambra.
  9. Clare

    Day 1: Home to Valletta

    It seems to be getting increasingly difficult to find cheap flights for Bank Holidays these days, so we tried to be super-organised for 2018 and began looking at flights when they came on sale in Autumn 2017. We both agreed that for the first trip of the year we wanted to go somewhere that would be warm and sunny, and one of the options which came up for discussion was Malta. I can't pretend that Malta has ever been particularly high up on either of our lists of places we wanted to go, but it definitely looked like it would fulfil the weather criteria, and three days felt like it would be enough time to get a feel for what the island was like. In the enthusiasm of finding cheap flights out with Easyjet, I somehow managed to overlook the fact that said flights were at 06.25 from Gatwick and that this would necessitate leaving home by 2am at the latest. This is somewhat ironic, because I managed to do exactly the same thing last year with our trip to Montpellier The good thing is that there is no traffic on the roads at that time of the morning at least and we made it to Gatwick in a little over two hours. The airport itself was extremely busy, so much so that we couldn't even get a table for breakfast in Wetherspoons, and had to resort to a rather more expensive breakfast in Garfunkels instead. In fairness, it was also a slightly nicer breakfast which involved pancakes and maple syrup, and we weren't surrounded by people drinking pints at 5am in the morning! The flight time from the UK to Malta is around 3 hours and we were lucky to have a bright sunny morning, so there were good views as we flew across the channel and over France. It started to get cloudier once we reached the Alps, though I still had some glimpses of snowy peaks, and after that I fell asleep so I missed Italy and woke up just in time to see what may have been the edge of Sicily, before we flew across a large expanse of sea towards Malta. As the plane came in to land, I think it more or less flew across the entire island and so my first impression was "Wow, this is small!". My second impression was how built up it seemed to be, with whole towns merging into one another along the coast. It also looked incredibly bright and sunny though, and as we stepped off the plane we were hit with a wave of heat The airport isn't too far outside Valletta and there are two buses an hour. There are no trains on Malta, but to compensate they seem to have an efficient system of bus routes criss-crossing the island. The system of fares is very simple, with a basic ticket for 2 hours of travel costing €1.50 in winter and €2.00 in summer. Bizarrely - given how hot it felt outside - it is technically still winter for the bus timetables and so we only had to pay €1.50. It was just before midday when the bus dropped us on the outskirts of Valletta, in a suburb called Floriana. The first thing we saw when we got off the bus was this enormous fountain. From a distance it looked really pretty, but up close the figures were actually slightly disturbing. The part of Floriana which the bus had just driven us through looked really pretty, so we decided to explore that first before heading into the main centre of Valletta. We walked along the alley of palm trees.... ...before finding ourselves in an enclosed garden called The Mall, which was first created in 1656 as a place of recreation for the Knights of Malta. Today it is lined with statues of famous people from Maltese history, but unfortunately we didn't know who any of them were. When we got to the end of the Mall, we found this beautiful church which we'd caught a glimpse of from the airport bus. This is the church of St Publius, which was originally built in the eighteenth century, but then destroyed by bombing during World War Two, before being rebuilt in the 1950s. Once you are further away from the church you can see that it has a huge dome. We turned around at this point and walked back towards the centre of Valletta. We entered the city via the main street, Republic Street, which stretches from the entrance to the city all the way down to the sea. The guidebook had warned that it could be quite busy, and sure enough it was. It's an attractive street though, and it wasn't long before we came across some Roman remains. On the opposite side of the street, we saw our first Maltese balconies. These balconies are unique to Malta, being completely enclosed. As we continued down the main street, we noticed that there were a lot of star-shaped decorations celebrating wins in some sort of championship. We later figured out that these represented the victories of Valletta FC in the Maltese football league. Not sure how many other Maltese teams there are for them to play against though After a while, the street opened up into a square where there seemed to be a flower festival taking place. The smell was pretty overpowering, but there were some really colourful displays. This is St George's Square, which is home to the Grandmaster's Palace, formerly the palace of the leader of the Knights who ruled Malta from 1530 to 1798, and today home to the offices of the President of Malta. There was a Maltese solider on guard outside. On the wall behind him is a plaque commemorating the awarding of the George Cross to the entire island of Malta for its role in World War Two. The island was subjected to heavy bombing and a siege between 1940 and 1942. As we left the square the street became narrower and began to lead downhill towards the sea. We passed some very colourful balconies on the way. Eventually we made it to the sea We had a great view out across the harbour towards the towns on the other side of the water. We also got our first view of Valletta's war memorial, the Siege Bell Memorial... ...as well as an indication of how impressive Valletta's fortified walls are. They were originally built by the Knights to enable the city to withstand attack by the Ottomans. We were feeling hungry by this point so we headed inwards back into the centre, eventually finding a nice little restaurant where we could sit outside and eat (pizza for me and burger for Tim). It was 2pm by the time we'd finished the meal and that meant we could officially check into our apartment so we set off to find it, passing a beautiful church on the way. I had had an email from the apartment owner earlier in the week saying that he wouldn't be there to let us in, but giving me the keycode for a safe where we would be able to find out keys. We located this without any difficulty, but difficulties arose once we were inside the building and trying to find the correct apartment. Our reservation said that we were in apartment 3, and the email instructions I'd received said that I needed to take the keys that were labelled 3b. There were also some keys labelled 3a in the safe box. We climbed the stairs and found a door simply labelled with a 3, so began trying our keys in that, thinking that maybe both apartments were behind the same door. Although we had three different keys on the fob, none of them seemed to work for the door, which was a bit concerning. We looked around the rest of the building, but couldn't find any doors which were labelled 3b. Eventually Tim went back to the key safe and borrowed the keys labelled 3a. Those instantly opened the door marked with a 3, so that must be apartment 3a. Where was 3b then?! I was close to despair when Tim decided to try the keys in a random door on the opposite side of the corridor (with no number on the door, I hasten to add!) and this turned out to be the correct apartment. Phew! Once we were finally inside, the apartment seemed very pleasant. There is a spacious kitchen and living area... ...a little table to eat breakfast off... ...and a separate bedroom which I thought looked rather dark. The darkness turned out to be a blessing in disguise though because that, combined with the incredibly high ceilings in the apartment, meant that it felt really nice and cool The lack of sleep last night was beginning to catch up with us, so we unpacked some things and decided to have a short nap before heading out again to explore some more of Valletta. The weather felt a bit cooler when we set out again, which was good because I'd already started to develop a slight sunburn (not having had the presence of mind to apply suncream when I got up at 01.30!). As soon as we stepped out of our apartment building, we found ourselves looking at this beautiful church. Malta is full of churches, and just around the corner we found a Church of England cathedral, obviously a legacy of the period of British rule over Malta. Other legacies of this period include the fact that in Malta they drive on the same side of the road as in the UK (which we didn't realise until we were on the airport bus!) and the fact that they have British plug sockets. I did read this in the guidebook but brought a couple of European adapters with me in case it turned out not to be true. It seems I needn't have worried We also found the Catholic cathedral of St John, which is absolutely enormous. Our main aim for the evening was to visit a couple of Valletta's gardens. First of all we made our way to the Lower Barrakka Gardens. There were some beautiful flower displays... ..a rather impressive temple monument... ...and some fantastic views out to sea. It was a little bit breezier this evening than it had been earlier in the day, and so we were also able to admire the view of this enormous flag. As we were looking out to sea, we caught sight of the TUI cruise ship which had been in port during the day finally pulling out of the harbour. We could see people onboard waving, but we didn't feel inclined to wave back! The harbour looked much better without the cruise ship We walked along the coastal fortifications for a while, enjoying the views of the balconies as much as the views of the sea Eventually we found ourselves in the Upper Barrakka Gardens, where there were more wonderful displays of geraniums... ...and some unexpected statues, such as this one to Winston Churchill. The views from here seemed even better than from the lower gardens. We were feeling tired by this point and wanted to find a supermarket to pick up some provisions for the apartment. We walked around Valletta for a while trying to track down various shops. We found a few more churches... ...and some government buildings.... ...but nothing resembling a grocery store! In the end we decided to walk back to Floriana, thinking that that might be more where people lived and therefore have some shops, but we drew a blank there too. In the end - with the assistance of Google - Tim found that there was a Lidl a couple of kilometres away. It was rather a long walk there and back at the end of what has been a long day, but we did manage to pick up some essentials like wine and biscuits Overall we've had a great first day in Malta; the weather has been perfect and Valletta is a really attractive city. Tomorrow we are hoping to visit the smaller and less-developed island of Gozo.
  10. Tim

    HMRC: First Installment

    First payment of 2018-19 is due. It's for £1516.45. (Payment details.)
  11. Tim

    Day 3: Äkäslompolo

    Test comment
  12. Tim

    Shade Harper

    Sagas' Shade Harper is based on the character of Jess Harper from the classic television western series, Laramie. I have also incorporated aspects of the character Cooper Smith from Wagon Train, also portrayed by Robert Fuller. An original background has been created for the RPG character. Shade is designed to be the classic western leading man and hero with a troubled past, and something of a Knight Errant often coming to the aid of those he considers down and out or as the underdog in various situations.
  13. The .co.uk version becomes available today.
  14. The .co.uk version of the niblings' name is currently registered until this day. If I can get my hands on it, then I can get the .uk version.
  15. All good things come to an end. That's the case for our latest visit to Lapland. It didn't get off to the most auspicious start, with my luggage staying in Helsinki and the apartment company giving us the wrong code for the keysafe (twice!) but that's all in the past and the week has been exceptional. I think we're getting this down to a fine art now. Since it was the last stroll we'd do for another year, we thought we'd head out in the evening for a stroll across the lake. (It will never not feel wrong typing that!) In contrast last night, we were the only ones out there on a cloudy night. Suddenly the sky changed to the west: A bright orange light appeared! It could've been sunrise: It would've needed several suns, though, because the same thing happened in other parts of the sky too: There was a hint of green between splashes of orange, though it was faint: Sometimes the intensity made it look like there was a searchlight: After admiring for a few minutes, we took one final glance and went home: We'll be up early tomorrow for a day of travelling. It's all worth it to come here, though. We're already making plans for next year!
  16. For our final day we decided that we wanted to have another go at cross-country skiing But first of all we had to sort out the logistics of how we were going to get all the equipment we'd rented back to the sports shop by the end of the day. After a bit of deliberation, we decided to walk to the shop and hand back the snowshoes and poles first, then walk back to the apartment and collect our skis. Tim asked the people in the sports shop whether we could leave our normal boots with them while we went skiing, and happily they agreed. The advantage of this was that it meant once we'd finished skiing, we could just go back to the sports shop and hand in the skis, ski poles and ski boots, then put our normal boots on to walk back to the apartment. The alternative would have been to walk back to the apartment in the ski boots, change into our normal boots and then walk all the way back to the sports shop again carrying the skis. Skis are quite heavy to carry (and it's about 1km from the apartment to the sports shop) so it was a definite bonus to avoid an extra trip. When we got down to the lake, we could immediately see that it was a lot cloudier than the previous day when we were skiing. It was still pretty though, even if we couldn't see any of the hills in the distance. We were soon clipped into our skis and ready to go. Tim was off... ...and I wasn't too far behind. It felt a bit easier than it did the other day. Or at least, I felt more balanced and less like I was going to fall over We stuck to the same flat bit of track on the lake, which is perfect for beginners Tim was managing to go a bit faster than me! Skiing is hard work and after a while we felt like having a break. While we were catching our breath, we tried another selfie Then we decided to do one more lap of the track before calling it a day. We went back to the ski shop, handed everything over and retrieved our normal boots. There was still some daylight left, so we went for a stroll around the village, past the supermarket in the direction we had explored the other night. As we were walking along, I suddenly caught sight of something moving in the trees on the opposite side of the road. It was a reindeer, just wandering around That's definitely a first for us! We continued along the path, to the point where the river flows into the lake. The water isn't completely frozen here. Tim went across to the other side of the road to look at the view in the opposite direction. It was really beautiful here too Before long we came to the end of the village and had to turn around and head back. It was starting to get dark now anyway and the street lights were coming on. We've had a really wonderful holiday in Lapland yet again, despite the fact that it didn't get off to the best start with the delay to Tim's suitcase last week Tomorrow will be a big day of travelling, as we have an internal flight from Kittilä to Helsinki in the morning, followed by a flight from Helsinki back to Gatwick in the afternoon. It will be tiring, but this is a destination that is definitely worth the travelling, and I have a feeling that we may be coming back again...!
  17. Our legs didn't feel up to skiing two days in a row, so we decided to revert to snowshoeing again today. We had really enjoyed the walk in the woods which we did on Saturday, but in places it had been quite difficult walking on such powdery snow in normal shoes, so we thought it would be fun to re-do the walk, but this time on snowshoes. We began walking along the side road which leads towards the path. We were carrying our snowshoes at this point, as the snow on the road wasn't very deep. When we got to the path, we stopped to put the snowshoes on. Putting them on is still the most difficult part, but we seem to be finally getting the hang of it now We managed to get all the straps pulled tightly enough that we only had to stop once to adjust mine during the whole walk, and they didn't fall off at all. You'll see from the picture that we had decided to bring the snowshoe poles with us today as well. Or rather, I had now realised that we actually had snowshoe poles Originally when Tim brought a pile of poles back from the shop I assumed they all related to the skis, but then realised belatedly that we had a set each to go with the snowshoes as well. That should make going up and downhill a lot easier Snowshoes on, and we were off. It was about minus 4 today and Tim was finding it a bit warm I was still happy I had all my winter gear on though, as we made our way through the forest and towards the little valley we'd walked through the other day. It was just as beautiful there today Quite a lot more snow had fallen overnight (we'd had to grit the path outside our apartment this morning) and so I think the path would have been really heavy-going in places with normal boots. With the snowshoes on we were speeding along though, especially once we got into a rhythm with the poles. Partway round, we decided to stop and try another selfie Then we were off once again... ...until we got to the little ski cafe which marks the halfway point of the walk. From there, we continued on the narrower path with lots of bent-over trees Some of them seemed to be even more bent over this time than last, and there were a couple of places where the trees were now so low we had to duck under them (which we definitely didn't have to do the other day). It was about 2pm by this point - and it hadn't been a particularly bright day in the first place - so we needed to walk briskly to get through the rest of the walk before darkness fell. The snowshoes definitely helped with that We soon came to the place where there is a steep downhill slope to negotiate. It was loads easier with the poles! Finally we were almost back at the road, where it would be time to take off the snowshoes again. We made it, just as the street lights were starting to turn on It was another really fun day in the snow
  18. We went out again just after 11pm last night, to see what was happening in Äkäslompolo for New Year. Although it had been quite a clear and sunny day, by evening the sky had clouded over once again and so there was no chance of seeing any northern lights. The village still looked very pretty though, with little candles placed in the snow at regular intervals to light up the path along the main road. We were walking towards the frozen lake, where last year there had been a big release of lanterns at midnight. We had no idea what might be happening this year! The lake is just beyond the supermarket carpark, and I'd had the impression that last year there had been a man there selling Glühwein (but that we couldn't buy any because we'd forgotten to bring any money out with us). We were better prepared this year, and when we arrived we found there was indeed a man in the carpark, but that what he was selling was hot berry juice with a shot of vodka in it. Not quite Glühwein, but I gave it a go anyway and it was quite nice We walked down to the lake, where there didn't appear to be a big organised display of anything this year, but lots of people individually either letting off lanterns or fireworks. Some people's fireworks weren't very impressive... ...but others were more successful. It felt quite surreal to be watching fireworks set off from a frozen lake. When it got to midnight, someone set off the best firework of all. It was a great start to the new year
  19. Today's activity was centred on skiiing, one year to the day since our previous attempt. As with snowshoeing, we'd decided that we'd try it ourselves by renting our skis, rather than pay for a class. We weren't sure how well we'd remember what we did last time, but it was cheaper to rent the skis for the week rather than pay for a lesson and we liked the idea of doing it by ourselves rather than as part of a group. Clare knew that there was a beginners' course on the lake, so that's where we headed off to, once we'd worked out how to put on our shoes. If we'd been experienced skiers we could have joined a trail as soon as we stepped out the door but since we're not, we had to carry our skis with us the kilometre or more to the lake. No mean feat! Clare's skis were soon on and she was ready to go: This was about 11-ish, so the red tinge noticeable in the background is the sunrise: Slow and steady wins the race. It was slow going at first but we reached the end of the first leg: The skies were clearer today, so we could see the fens from where we were standing: Then it was time to come back. You can see that Clare had picked up a bit more confidence: Soon enough she'd made it back to the start: I soon found it relatively straightforward: My Fitbit wasn't happy, though, noticing the increase in heart rate and ordering me to relax! We did the same trip several more times. Clare became a lot more at ease with it, although stopping was still a bit nerve-wracking: Soon she felt happier: 'One more time' became 'one more time' several times, until we'd spent an hour and a half going backwards and forwards. After having done the final final leg and turned the corner, Clare rightly looked rather pleased with herself: We were considering resting for an hour and then coming back to do some more but as soon as we got home we realised how sore we were. The good news is, though, that since we've rented the skis for the week, we'll be back out in a couple of days' time to do some more
  20. This afternoon I casually fired up Amikumu, an app for finding Esperanto speakers nearby. As it happens, I know a Finnish fella who speaks the language and I haven't seen him since 2004 ... and guess who our nearest neighbour happens to be? My mate, Pekka! He's moved from where he used to live, a town in the far north called Enontekiö (I've remembered the name from how it was enscribed on a pen he gave me) to Rovaniemi, which is the town that most people will have visited if they've been to "Lapland" but which is now no longer part of the Arctic Circle because that zone is shrinking. I contacted my buddy and explained that I know getting a message to meet up on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day 150 kilometres away with no notice would probably be tricky for a man with a family, but since we're coming back next year I could give him a bit of notice next time. He seemed happy with the idea! (I love Pekka but I'm going to have to have words with him about moving from Enontekiö before we had a chance to get that far north!) Clare and I decided to go for a stroll this evening, since we hadn't done a stroll in the darkness so far on this break. We stuck to doing what we know by walking in the direction of the supermarket, which meant we passed things which we already know: We hit upon the idea of walking a little further once we reached the supermarket. After all, we didn't know what lay beyond our self-imposed idea of the town limit and the weather was a comparatively mild minus 2. It didn't take more than a couple of minutes to spot what appeared to be a tower in the distance, so we headed towards it, across a river. We found an attractive display: The building with the bridge was a jewellery shop and the whole site was a caravan park: There was also a Christmas tree in the parking area:As is usual for car parks, there were piles of snow amassed:And then we headed home for a glass of wine. Tomorrow we'll be breaking out the skis!
  21. Today we decided to re-do one of our favourite walks from last year, in the woods outside Äkäslompolo. Given how cold it has been over the past few days, we got dressed up in our warmest clothes this morning, prepared to brave the Arctic conditions once again. I was wearing my new pink waterproof trousers As soon as we stepped outside though, we realised that.... it wasn't actually that cold The air didn't feel painful to breathe, even without a neck gaiter. Sure enough, when we got as far as the main thermometer in the village, we saw that today the temperature was a mere minus 2. You could definitely feel the difference! The path we were looking for starts from one of the side roads leading out of the village. Last year we got a bit lost when we were looking for it and managed to walk up a hill in the wrong direction, but this year we found the correct road without any problems. After a few minutes we turned off the road and onto the path, which starts out quite wide to begin with. As with yesterday, everywhere we looked we were surrounded by beautiful snowy trees After a while the path crosses a ski run and becomes more narrow, as it begins to lead through a little valley. It's really beautiful here, and again almost completely silent; we only met a handful of other people walking the whole time we were out. It wasn't snowing while we were out but it obviously had been overnight, because there was a fresh layer of powdery snow everywhere. It was quite difficult to walk in at times; we should probably have brought our snowshoes! It was a really magical place to walk though, even if it did feel like hard work at times The path leads towards a small restaurant hut for skiers, which is about 4km outside of Äkäslompolo. From here, the path circles round back towards the village again. This part of the path leads through a denser part of the forest and we saw lots of trees which were bent under the weight of the snow. Some of them definitely looked like they would be able to spring back once the snow melted.... ...whereas others looked like they had been snapped completely... ...and others we weren't completely sure. We carried on through the forest. Eventually the path goes down quite a steep snowy slope. Tim decided to take the running approach... ...whereas I went down more carefully After this, we were back on the same path as before, leading up through the valley. It was just as beautiful going in the opposite direction As we got closer to Äkäslompolo, we could see the light starting to change. It was after 2pm by this point and starting to get darker, so the photos almost looked like they had been taken in black and white. We were starving by the time we got back to the village and so we decided to go out for a meal. We both had pizza this time, and they were huge! All in all we've had another wonderful day in the snow
  22. Shortly after I finished blogging last night, our doorbell rang and there was a lady outside with Tim's missing suitcase He was very happy to be reunited with it. It turned out that the original baggage label had indeed fallen off, so I'm going to be extremely paranoid when using self-service baggage check-in desks in the future! When we woke up this morning we both felt more energetic than yesterday, so we decided to try out some snowshoeing. The snowshoe expedition which we'd been on last year now cost €68 whereas renting the snowshoes had only cost €50 for the length of our stay, so even if we only used them today we would save money We decided to start on the Äkäslompolo lake, where we knew from last year that there were definitely some snowshoe trails. Last year we went on this walk, but had to turn back when we got to a slope that was too steep to climb without snowshoes. This year we thought we should be able to do better The thermometer in the centre of the village showed -19 today, so it was a bit warmer than yesterday. It didn't really feel much warmer, but whereas yesterday had been quite bright and clear, today was very cloudy and it was starting to snow lightly. It didn't take long for Tim's beard to freeze again When we got to the lake, we strapped on our snowshoes. Strapping them on is actually the hardest part; the straps are quite stiff and it's difficult to pull them tight enough to keep your feet secured, especially when your fingers are going numb. We managed it in the end, and set off across the lake. Whereas yesterday we had been able to take photos of the fells in the distance, today we could hardly see across to the opposite side of the lake We made our way across the lake, towards the forest on the far side. I remembered from last year how beautiful the trees looked, all covered in snow. We could see occasional people skiing past on the some of the ski runs in the distance, but for most of the time we were completely on our own and when we stopped it was absolutely silent The air was so cold that it was almost painful to breathe, so I was very glad of my neck-gaiter We made our way through the forest, following the snowshoe trail. The path was marked with intermittent blue poles, which made it easier to follow. Some of the trees were completely bowed down by snow... ...and others were just so perfectly covered in snow that it was hard to see any tree at all In some places we saw animal tracks in the snow, though not sure what this one was. Eventually we got near to the place where we had turned back last year, when the path started to go quite steeply uphill. Equipped with our snowshoes, we managed the uphill no problem this year and were soon following a narrower path along a little hill. It was very pretty, although I had to pay attention not to trip over my own snowshoes What hadn't occurred to me in advance was that if we followed a path uphill, we'd have to go downhill again at some point. Sure enough, we soon came to a point where the path led downhill very steeply indeed (though you can't really see it in this picture, because everything is so white!) Tim managed to get down the slope but it was way too steep for me, even with snowshoes, so we had to turn around and return the way that we had come. That was fine though, because there were other snowshoe paths to explore The snow had started to intensify by this point, and we could no longer see all the trees quite as clearly. I did spot these little ones though, which were so small that the snow had covered all but their very tips. We were rather cold by this point, so we decided to call it a day. If you look very closely in this picture, you may be able to see that the little bit of hair poking out from under my hat is completely frozen We walked back across the lake and towards the warmth of the apartment. We've discovered that it has a special drying cupboard for wet clothes (it's a bit like a tumble dryer, but in a cupboard) so we have been making use of that this evening; our clothes were surprisingly wet after a few hours of being snowed on. It was a lovely day, and really good fun to be able to snowshoe on our own rather than in a group
  23. Tim

    Day 3: Äkäslompolo

    The suitcase has just been delivered to our apartment
  24. Clare

    Day 3: Äkäslompolo

    We had a slow start to the day today as my cold was making me feel a bit miserable. I stayed in bed for a while in the morning, while Tim went out to the sports shop to pick up the skis and snowshoes which we had arranged to rent. For the past two years when we've been to Lapland, we've taken part in some organised snowshoe walks and last year we had a cross country skiing lesson as well. This year we had decided that rather than spending money on the organised activities, we would be brave enough to rent our own equipment and strike out on our own I felt better by later in the morning, so after lunch we left the apartment and went for an exploratory walk. There was an enormous pile of snow in the carpark outside the apartment! We set off along the road into the centre of the village. It was quite a clear day, and once we'd walked along for a while, we were able to get our first glimpse of the frozen lake in the distance beyond the trees. Everywhere looked like a winter wonderland It felt incredibly cold outside and the bits of my face that were exposed felt like they were starting to freeze. It soon became clear why; the temperature was a cool minus 27 degrees I was clearly a little bit startled by the temperature Tim had managed to buy new gloves in the supermarket yesterday, but he hadn't been able to get a hat. We'd been hoping the bag was going to turn up and that we wouldn't need to buy a new one, but it became clear on this walk that his ears were going to freeze if we didn't buy one asap. We tried the sports shop first of all, but their cheapest hat seemed to be €30 and the majority were in the €40 - €50 range. Tim seemed to feel he'd rather lose his ears than pay that much for a hat, but happily we found another shop near to the supermarket which had a bargain bin outside it. We picked up this hat for €12.50 in the end In order to get to the frozen lake, you have to walk across the supermarket car park. The supermarket had decided to liven it up this year, with the addition of this enormous reindeer We followed the path towards the lake... ...and were soon rewarded with this beautiful view of the moon over the fells. It was a very clear day, so we were able to see in all directions... ...though despite the fact that it wasn't even 2pm yet, we could see that it was soon going to be getting dark. We couldn't head too far at this time of the day - plus Tim's beard had started to freeze - so we decided to go back to the supermarket to warm up and stock up on some supplies. When we got back home, we found that Tim had a missed call on his mobile from a Finnish number. We assumed it was to do with his suitcase, but they hadn't left a message and nobody picked up when he tried to call back. The good news is that a few hours later he got another call, from a lady at Kittila airport who said that the suitcase had been found and wanted to confirm the address it should be delivered to Fingers crossed it's going to arrive at some point this evening!
  25. We had so much fun in Lapland last year that we knew before we had even got home that we wanted to come again this year. We also knew that we wanted to maximise our time in the snow as much as possible, so back in January I started researching whether it would be possible to fly directly to Kittilä, which is the nearest airport to our favourite destination of Äkäslompolo. Researching flights to Kittilä turned out to be a very frustrating task, because there are hundreds of flights from the UK around Christmas time, including from airports close to where we live, but they are all charter flights for people going on Thompson holidays. The only airline which seemed to be selling direct scheduled flights from the UK to Kittilä was Monarch. I looked at their website longingly for a while, but the December 2017 prices were already exceptionally high (around £400 each) and we decided that we couldn't justify spending that kind of money. That turned out to be a great decision, given that Monarch has subsequently gone bust! I was convinced there must be a quicker way than flying to Helsinki and taking the overnight train though, and in the end we found that it was possible to fly from Gatwick to Helsinki and from Helsinki to Kittilä with Norwegian. The only catch was that both of those flights seemed to run every other day... and they don't both run on the same alternate days... so we would have to fly to Helsinki one day and get a second flight to Kittilä the next day. Also the flight to Helsinki was on Boxing Day, which felt like a strange day to fly. We deliberated over it for quite some time but it really did seem like the best option, so in the end I went ahead and booked. As Tim pointed out, flying on Boxing Day didn't mean that I needed to spend Christmas Day packing my suitcase; most of the things I needed for Lapland would be outdoor winter wear that I could pack in advance, as I definitely wouldn't be wearing them in the UK Flying from Gatwick on Boxing Day actually turned out to be a really good idea. Our flight was at 09.40, so we left home around 04.30 and beat all the shoppers for the Boxing Day sales, with the result that we were able to enjoy completely clear motorways. The airport itself didn't seem too busy, and our flight boarded and left pretty much on time. Amazing! We arrived in a chilly Helsinki just before 3pm. The majority of the flight had been too cloudy to see anything, but as we came down to land we were able to see a tiny sprinkling of snow on the countryside outside Helsinki. As our second flight from the airport was quite early the following morning, we weren't planning to go into the centre of Helsinki itself (the airport bus fare is quite expensive, and by 3pm it was almost getting dark anyway!) so we had booked to stay in the Holiday Inn at Helsinki airport. I'd chosen the hotel on the basis that it started serving breakfast from 5am and it had a free shuttle bus to and from the airport. There was no information about the timetable of the free shuttle bus online - or indeed any official information about where to catch it from - so we left the terminal building and began surveying the rows of bus stops outside. Luckily we found it quite easily and the bus seemed to run every 20 minutes or so, so we didn't have too long to wait. The Holiday Inn was only a couple of kilometres away and we were dropped off right outside it. Check-in was easy and we even got some free chocolates, which was a nice bonus We relaxed in the hotel for a while before going out to try and find somewhere to eat. My experience of eating in Holiday Inns previously is that their restaurants are quite expensive, so I had done some googling in advance and found out that there was an out-of-town shopping centre and entertainment complex about five minutes walk away, so we set off in search of that. The thermometer told us that it was minus 1 degrees outside and it began to snow slightly as we left the hotel and made our way towards the shopping centre. We found the building quite easily, but spend a while walking around it until we managed to find the way in. Once inside we found various restaurants and settled on an Italian one, which didn't seem too expensive by Helsinki standards. We each had a lasagne, which cost around €17, and stuck to drinking the free tap water We were in need of an early night after our early start for the flight to Helsinki. Another early start awaited us on Wednesday, as our flight to Kittilä was at 08.45. Although it was only an internal flight, we needed to check in our luggage again, so we wanted to make sure we were at the airport for 06.45. Counting backwards, that meant that we needed to catch the free shuttle bus at 06.20 and get up at 05.30. Breakfast at the hotel was quite plentiful, although it was so early that I didn't feel like I had the appetite to do it justice. We caught the correct bus and were at the airport well ahead of schedule. Check in had to be done via self service machines, which print the boarding passes as well as the labels for your luggage. I've always been rubbish at putting those labels on so Tim did both of them and then we made our way to the self service baggage drop point, where we had to scan the labels on the baggage and send the suitcases off down the conveyor belt. This is where things started to go wrong. Tim successfully sent off his bag, but when I went to lift mine up onto the belt I realised that my label had disappeared. Soem frantic looking around revealed that it had fallen off a few feet away. Tim tried attaching it again and this time managed to get more of the sticky stuff attached, but it was too late to do anything about his bag, which had already disappeared. We then tried scanning the label on my bag but got an error message from the machine saying that the bag was too big (despite the fact that it weighed 14kg and we had an allowance of 20kg). Tim eventually managed to get the attention of a member of the check in staff, who explained that the machine meant that the bag was too big (as in, too large) and not too heavy. This made zero sense because my bag is physically smaller than Tim's bag, which the machine had already happily accepted, but we went off to the oversized backage desk and successfully deposited my bag there. I was starting to feel a bit worried about whether we were ever going to see either bag again! Security went well at least (I even got through the scanning machine without taking my walking boots off!) and we found a nice quiet place with comfy armchairs to sit and wait for our flight. This one left remarkably on time as well, despite the fact that it had been snowing in Helsinki overnight and there was definitely a significant amount of snow waiting for us at our destination. We landed in Kittila on time at around 10.20, and stepped outside into the biting cold of minus 14 degrees. Wow. Kittilä is only a small airport, so it didn't take long for the luggage to start coming off the baggage track. Helsinki to Kittilä is not the sort of flight where people travel with hand baggage - most people were waiting for suitcases and skis - so there was a lot of baggage to unload, and it came down the conveyor in fits and starts. After about 15 minutes I was starting to get nervous that neither of our bags had arrived, but there were still other people waiting which was reassuring. Eventually we caught sight of my blue bag coming along the conveyor, and Tim ran off to retrieve it. Still no sign of his, but there was another group of people waiting as well. We waited and waited and waited. Eventually the baggage carousel was completely empty, but it still continued to run so we didn't completely lose hope... until it came to a complete stop. Oh dear. Tim went off with the other man to try and find a member of airport staff, and was eventually given a lost baggage form to fill in. Once completed, this form had to be deposited in a sort of post box, which didn't completely fill us with confidence; who knows when someone was going to come and open the postbox to follow up on it?! This all took some time and while I stood waiting, I caught sight of the airport bus to Äkäslompolo driving away. This wouldn't necessarily be a huge problem at any other airport, but we were in the Arctic, in a country where a taxi could potentially cost my life savings, and the airport bus doesn't have a timetable as such; it just turns up to meet scheduled flights and leaves when it judges everyone on the flight has collected their luggage. My mood as I contemplated this problem was not greatly improved by a man who walked into the baggage reclaim area dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and shorts and, together with another man on a guitar, started playing what appeared to be Jingle Bells in Finnish. Was this some sort of weird Finnish stag do tradition? No, it turned out to be part of the welcoming party for a TUI flight that had just arrived from the UK! Once Tim had posted his form and we went through customs, we found the main hall of the airport full of TUI reps dressed as elves. We found a coffee shop and Tim bought us a drink while I checked the website for the airport bus. Luckily it turned out that there were three scheduled flights to Kittilä today; the one we had been on, one in the late evening and one which was due to arrive at 11.40. There would therefore be another bus, probably departing around midday. Phew! We also consulted the Norwegian website, to see whether there was anything else we could do about the lost baggage. It turns out that the politically correct term is "delayed" baggage Norwegian said that we needed to report the delayed baggage to a Norwegian representative at the airport and that they would give us a special reference number, which we could use to track the baggage and to make any claims on our insurance. This sounded good, but Kittilä is a really tiny airport and there were definitely no Norwegian representatives there. Tim tried a live chat on the Norwegian website but struggled to make them understand this problem, and in the end we realised that it was 11.50 and we needed to go outside to try and find the bus. Happily the bus was there and the driver let us get on board straight away A return ticket for two people set us back €54 (so I definitely need to make sure I don't lose the return portion!). The bus sat and waited at the airport for a while but ultimately it turned out that we were the only passengers. I'm not sure whether I was more surprised by this or the fact that Tim said the driver was reading the newspaper as he drove us along the snow-covered roads towards Äkäslompolo. It's around 50km between Kittilä and Äkäslompolo and the journey normally takes just over an hour, though it was a bit quicker today because we didn't have to stop at lots of different hotels for other passengers. It was around 1pm when the driver dropped us off outside the main shopping centre in the middle of the village. Our favourite restaurant that we ate in a lot the first year was open, so our first move was to go inside and get lunch. I had an absolutely enormous pizza, while Tim had a burger. Once again we drank the free tap water, so in total the meal only cost us €30. Our next stop was the supermarket, where we wanted to get both some supplies for the apartment and some replacement items for Tim. He had to spend more than he would have liked to, but did manage to pick up some new gloves, some underwear and a toothbrush. Luckily he was already wearing most of his warm weather clothes in anticipation of getting to Äkäslompolo, so we haven't had to buy even more expensive items like a coat and boots! It wasn't quite 3pm by this point and we weren't supposed to check into the apartment until 4pm, but we decided to try our luck with checking in early. There is no reception at the apartments and the keys are kept in little key safes outside the door. The company who owns the apartments are supposed to text you the number of your key safe a few days in advance, so I had been a bit stressed on Christmas Day when I realised I hadn't received mine. I emailed the company and got a response to say that they'd sent it to the incorrect phone number (they'd missed off the UK country code), but they didn't seem to resend it. Eventually after a frantic email last night, they sent me the key code via email. Let's say the email told me it was 1131. We got to the apartment and Tim dialled the number into the key box. Nothing happened; it was still most definitely locked. I started desperately searching for a phone number for the rental company and eventually found one, but my phone decided it didn't like the cold weather and died. Tim tried calling the number, but got no response. In the meantime, an elderly Finnish couple who were staying in the apartment next door arrived and tried to help us out, but we were hampered by the fact that they didn't speak a word of English. In the end they gave up and went indoors, while Tim set off on foot to find the office of the rental company, which was a short walk away near one of the main hotels in the village. I stood and waited, getting periodic visits from the elderly Finnish couple who kept coming outside, looking at me and saying things in Finnish It turns out that they were trying to ring the rental company for us as well. They eventually got through and were told that our key code was 6131. The man came outside and tried this in the key safe, but nothing happened; it still appeared to be locked. He and his wife started hitting it, perhaps thinking that it might be frozen shut, but all to no avail. While this commotion was going on, a big van pulled up in the car park outside and a representative of the rental company turned up, announcing that the code was indeed 6131. She tried it, and it didn't work for her either. Almost simultaneously, Tim arrived on foot, having made it to the office of the rental company and been told the code was 6131 as well. There were some heated exchanges in Finnish, and then the rental lady announced that the code was 7131. This one worked, and after thanking the Finnish couple as best we could, we were finally able to get inside the apartment Everything was as we expected when we got inside, except that the Internet isn't working properly and so I can't post the blog That's a problem to try and sort out tomorrow! All in all it's been quite an eventful day and not exactly what we'd planned for our arrival in Lapland (did I mention that I've acquired a sudden cold?!). Coming here for our third time, we thought that everything would be straightforward but I guess this is a reminder that there's always scope for things to go wrong when you travel. Here's hoping that tomorrow is going to be a better day!!
  26. Tim

    Garage door

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