007 Travel story: Rovaniemi (FINLAND) 2016January 10, 2017
007 Travelers (Pirita and Mika) searching for Bond book locations!
When: 12-13 November 2016
Flight route: Helsinki – Rovaniemi- Helsinki
Duration: 1h 10 min
Price: 238,98 EUR + Finnair points / 2 adults
“Rovaniemi had been an ideal choice. From the town one can move quickly north to the more desolate areas. It is also only a couple of fast hours’ travel on a snow scooter to the more accessible points along the Russo-Finnish border; to places like Salla, the scene of great battles during the war between the Russians and Finns in 1939-40. Farther north, the frontier zone becomes more inhospitable.
During summer, this part of the Arctic Circle is not unpleasant; but in winter, when blizzards, deep-freeze conditions, and heavy snow take over, the country can be treacherous, and wretched, for the unwary.
When it was all over and the two exercises with the SAS and SBS completed, Bond expected to be exhausted, in need of rest, sleep, and relaxation of the kind he could only find in London. During the worst moments of the ordeal his thoughts had been, in fact, of the comfort to be found in his Chelsea flat. He was, then, quite unprepared to discover that, on returning to Rovaniemi a couple of weeks later, his body surged with an energy and sense of fitness he had not experienced for a considerable time.
Arriving back in the early hours, he slipped into to Ounasvaara Polar Hotel – where Saab had their Winter Driving Headquarters – left a message for Erik Carlsson saying he would send full instructions regarding the movement of the Silver Beast, then hitched a lift to the airport and boarded the the next flight to Helsinki. At that point, his plan was to catch a connection straight on to London.”
|Pirita / 007 Travelers|
We spent some time at the airport taking photos and noticed that all taxis and the airport bus to the Rovaniemi center had all gone already, so we had to call a taxi from the lobby phone. All we had to do was pick up the phone and the it was the direct line to the taxi, so we did not need to know the number.
|Mika / 007 Travelers|
Before our trip we got some really good tips from Visit Rovaniemi, so we had planned our trip.
Our first targets were The Arctic Circle and the Santa Claus Village, which were just a couple of kilometers away from the airport. The taxi driver was very nice, as well as all the people of Rovaniemi.
“The winter clothing, he thought, would do little for his image with the ladies back home. Damart thermal underwear is scarcely conductive to certain activities. Over long johns, he wore a track suit, heavy rollneck sweater, padded ski pants and jacket, while his feet were firmly laced into Mukluk boots. A thermal hood, scarf, woollen hat and goggles protected his face; Damart gloves inside leather gauntlets did the same for his hands. A small pack contained the necessities, including his own version of the SAS/SBS webbing belt.
Bond trudged through snow, which came up tho his knees in the easier parts, taking care not to stray from the narrow track he had reconnoitred during the daylight hours. A wrong move to left or right could land him in snowdrifts deep enough to cover a small car.”
“The snow scooter was exactly where the briefing officers said it would be. Nobody was going to ask questions about how it got there. Snow scooters are difficult machines to manhandle with the engine off, and it took Bond a good ten minutes to heave and pull this one from its hiding place beneath solid and unyielding fir branches He then hauled it to the top of a long slope which ran downwards for almost a kilometer. A push and a machine moved forward, giving Bond just enough time to leap on to the saddle and thrust his legs into the protective guards.
Silently, the scooter slid down the long slope, finally coming to a stop as the weight and momentum ran out. Though sound carried easily across the snow, he was now far enough from the hotel to start the engine safely – after taking a compass bearing, and checking his map with a shaded torch. The little motor came to life. Bond opened the throttle, engaged the gear and began his journey. It took twenty-four hours to meet up with his colleagues.”
We visited inside the house of Santa Claus, and saw pictures on the wall of some previous guests. These included Finnish Formula One Champion (1998, 1999) Mika Häkkinen, Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish, as well as well-known man for all James Bond fans: Mr. John Cleese (“R” in “The World Is Not Enough” (1999) and “Q” in “Die Another Day” (2002)). The house of Santa Claus is very exiting and there is a lot to see.
|Marketa Remesova, Santa Claus and Mika Häkkinen|
|Nightwish and Santa Claus|
|John Cleese and Santa Claus|
Then it was time to a reindeer sleigh ride. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough snow to really ride a long way, but one round in the pre-made track was nice in a weather that was getting colder. About -10 degrees of Celcius at this point. There were two reindeer to choose, Juntti and Valo and we chose Juntti, who was 17 years old reindeer. Our reindeer guide was very friendly and he told us about the reindeer and Rovaniemi. The reindeer business is owned by Santa Claus Reindeer, located at Joulumaantie 13, at Santa Claus Village, and we recommend this experience for everyone.
|Valo the reindeer|
|007 Travelers and the reindeer Juntti|
Children 23 €
Adults 29 €
Our guide suggested us to visit the restaurant nearby, and we did.
After the ride, we ate late lunch in Lapland Restaurant Kotahovi, which gets its name from kota which is the Finnish name for a Lappish hut. It is located in Arctic Circle, Joulumaantie 13.
Pirita’s choice was Traditional Sautéed Reindeer with Mashed potatoes, lingon chutney and pickled cucumber (24€), and Mika had Creamy Salmon Soup with Bread of Kitchen’s choice (14€). We drank milk. Both meals were magnificent. Also we loved the place and its atmosphere!
“GoldenEye” (1995) photos
|Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC|
|Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC|
|Photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC|
We took some pictures outside when crossing the Arctic Circle and same thing inside the main building. Pirita bought a diploma for proof of crossing the line. The price of the diploma was 4,50 euros.
The shopping center closed its doors at 17.00 and it was time to move towards our hotel. We called a taxi, but there was some misunderstanding about the right the door where we were, and we had to wait for the taxi for a while. We got nice help from the lady who made the diploma. She made sure that taxi would came to right address and would not leave us there waiting. She is a really good at her work, such a customer-friendly person!
We arrived at Lapland Sky Hotel Ounasvaara and there was Jenni checking us in at the reception. She was really helpful and kind to us. Ten points for customer service to her!
We gave the hotel “Icebreaker” Bond book where the hotel is mentioned.
We went to see our room, which was really nice. Superior room for three persons, including own sauna. Room number 206 was located on the second floor. We had a view to snowy trees from our window and trees looked picturesque when they were covered by snow. There was also cute husky souvenir in the room that could be bought at the price of 9,90 euros.
We got a tour from Jenni and she showed us the conference rooms with a view, nice lobby and common sauna area. This sauna area is available with the room key. Then she made drinks for us in the lobby bar. Pirita had Aurora Sky (Lapponia blueberry liquor, 2 cl Absolut vodka, lemon soda & soda water) and Mika had Kulovalkea, which contains buckthorn liquor, among other things.
We wondered why some Asian people rushed outside every now and then and Jenni told us that there were northern lights visible and they had a “guard” outside who called them immediately when something could be seen in the sky. We also went to see the sky and saw already fading northern light in the sky. There is also a northern light info in the lobby, where you can see when is the best possible time to see them.
Later in the evening we were exploring the hotel and the hotel´s restaurant personnel suggested us to reserve a table, which we did. We got our table near the window with a wonderful view. We ate really splendid dinner. For starters we had Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Apple and Roasted Peanuts, which the kitchen sent to welcome us there. Main courses were Gnocchi made of Lappish Potatoes and Mushrooms with Brown Butter and Parmesan Cheese for Pirita and Arctic Char with Fennel and Smoked Butter Sauce.for Mika. For dessert Pirita’s choice was Caramel Flan with Salted Caramel and Cloudberries and Mika’s Brown Butter Cake with Apple and Vanilla Ice Cream. The restaurant uses pure Lapland´s water. Thank you restaurant Sky Ounasvaara for the most tasteful dinner ever and your knowledge about all the food and wine! Also we loved the fact that they told about the history of the wine and they could name the fisherman who caught the fish.
For main course, Pirita had Gnocchi made of Lappish Potatoes and Mushrooms with Brown Butter and Parmesan Cheese (24 €)
Then we waited for our sauna to heat up and relaxed before going back outside to Aurora terrace to see the northern lights. There was already -18 degrees of Celcius and it felt a bit cold, but we saw some nice green northern lights in the sky and it was really worth it to see them. There was many Asians with us and it was really special experience to them too. The northern lights are really magical!
In order to spot them, feel free to explore for example these websites:
Read also instructions how to take good photographs of Northern Lights here:
We took a short night walk in the skiing slope where chair lifts were nicely frozen. We found it very beautiful!
Sunday 13th of November 2016
In the morning we had a good breakfast on the second floor (same place where we had dinner on previous night). The breakfast was clearly named what it was, every item of it, also in English. Then we put our winter clothes on and took a morning walk close to the hotel. We discovered also James Bond’s “Silver Beast” Saab parked in the garage 🙂
“There was no difficulty about cover in Finland, as far as Bond was concerned. He had yet to test-drive his own Saab Turbo – “The Silver Beast” as he called it – in harsh winter conditions.
Saab-Scania hold an exacting Winter Driving Course each year, within the Arctic Circle, near the Finnish ski resort of Rovaniemi. Arranging an invitation to take part in the course was easy, requiring only a couple of telephone calls. Within twenty-four hours Bond had his car – complete with all its secret “extras”, built in at his own expense by Communications Control Systems – freighted to Finland. Bond then flew, via Helsinki, to Rovaniemi, to meet up with driving experts, like his own friend Erik Carlsson, and the dapper Simo Lampinen.
The Driving Course took only a few days, after which – with a word to the massive Erik Carlsson, who promised to keep his eye on the Silver Beast – Bond left the hotel near Rovaniemi in the early hours of a bitterly cold morning.”
At the corner of the hotel starts Ounasvaara’s winter walking path and we took some nice winter photos.
After that it was time to check out and we drove to the center of Rovaniemi by taxi and went to Lordi’s square, which is in Maakuntakatu in central Rovaniemi. The handprints and signatures of Lordi’s line-up at the time when they won Eurovision song contest can be seen at the Lordi’s Square.
Lordi is a Finnish heavy metal band and their lead singer Mr Lordi is from Rovaniemi and the band is Finland´s only representative who has won the Eurovision Song Contest. The band is also known for wearing monster masks and using horror elements with pyrotechnics during concerts and music videos. They performed the winning act, a song called “Hard Rock Hallelujah” (2006).
We arrived at the airport so early that basically everything was closed there also. The restaurant and souvenir shops opened at 12 o’clock, so we had to wait for a while, but then when restaurant opened its door, we ordered coffee, cocoa and sandwiches. Lunch is only available from Monday to Friday.
There were a souvenir boutique before the security check and then some more small shops after, where you could also buy some alcohol, candies, perfumes etc.
Pirita was chosen to closer random inspection in security check but they didn’t find any alarming things 🙂 Later we noticed that we could have bought the warm food after the security check, but we had already eaten something else earlier at the airport. The warm food is available only 1,5 hours before the flight.
Weather in the flight to Helsinki was quite cloudy, so you couldn’t see anything but clouds during the one hour and 10 minute flight to Helsinki airport.
Nice weekend trip was over and we are happy to recommend everyone to visit Rovaniemi!
Jonna Anttilainen, Hotel Manager
Jenni and the whole personnel of the hotel