TO THE NORTHERN MOST POINT OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
The snow on both sides of the road was knee deep
On 29th January 2018, after kungfu, chi kung and Zen courses in Inari, Markus (Sifu Markus Kahila) and I left our hotel early in the morning to make the most of daylight hours. It was 10.00 am when we left Inari. To many people, especially in equatorial or temperate countries, 10.00 am may not be considered early, but in Lapland in winter, it is about the time when the sun rises, and the sun sets at about 1.00 pm.
We took the road straight to north, and soon passed the junction where we would turn left for our courses. We went straight ahead, and the landscape started to change into spacious open plains with trees growing only to the height of few meters, resembling tundra though in Finland the Lapland plains are not regarded as such.
After driving for more than two hours, with snow covered pine trees on both sides of the road, we arrived at the municipality of Utsjoki, which is the northernmost in Finland. It was a small centre with few houses, and was located right next to the Utsjoki river that bordered Norway. For fun, we drove over a bridge separating the two countries, and landed in Norway for a few minutes. Then we drove back.
Then we went along a road besides the river to Nuorgam, the northernmost village in Finland, which had only about 200 inhabitants. But we were quite surprised to find some big shops and modern facilities. We arrived at the northernmost point in Finland and the whole of the European Union. We then crossed over to Norway, which is not in the European Union, for another few minutes. Although we crossed the border, it was actually just driving onward on the same narrow road. We were glad that there was no customs or immigration formalities.
On the way back, we took some photographs at a sign indicating the border. Markus found a board indicating that we were at the northernmost part of Finland and the European Union. The sign was half buried under snow.
In Norway with Finland just behind
We drove back to Utsjoki and enjoyed our lunch in a restaurant while enjoying a gorgeous view over the river looking at the Norwegian side. The meal was delicious and the scenery superb, with the river frozen and snow everywhere.
The sun started setting while we drove back to Ivalo airport to take a plane back to Helsinki. We had a spectacular sight, not readily seen in other parts of the world. Because Lapland was relatively flat we could see both the sun and the moon at the same time. The sun was setting in the west, while the moon was rising in the east.
On our way back to Inari, we saw some rein-deer crossing the snowy road. Then we drove past some spacious open plains which looked like tundra with white snow covering the wide land with little trees. We then passed the junction turning to our courses just the day before, and then passed the hotel where I stayed. It was a magnificent sight with colorful lights.
We stopped at a luxurious hotel in Ivalo and had some hot chocolate. I told Markus that the best chocolate I had, but with ice, was during a boat trip from Helsinki to Tallinn after the King's Road courses in 2016. But the hot chocolate we had in Ivalo was also very tasty. The freezing cold weather outside the hotel must have contributed to its welcomed flavor.
We then went to the Ivalo airport and Markus returned the car by just dropping the car key in a box provided without doing any thing else. This is Finish efficiency. As we were quite early I enjoyed playing with my computer while Markus, just siting in front of me, sent me some notes about today's trip from his cell phone to my computer, and I wrote down the article in my computer immediately.
When we arrived at the Helsinki airport, Roland (Sifu Roland Mastel) was already waiting at the airport to fetch us. Roland took us to enjoy a sumptuous Chinese dinner, and then took us to a hotel where I completed the last part of this article.
Wong Kiew Kit
29th January 2018, Ivalo
We saw some rein-deer crossing the snowy road
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