Day 17: Rovaniemi to Keuruu: First a visit to Santa’s house before we head further south to Keuruu. Perhaps a game of volleyball or a sauna at our lakeside camp. (Breakfast and Dinner included)
Hotel: Camping Nyyssanniemi
Breakfast: 7:45 Bags to the bus: 8:30 Bus departs: 8:45
My morning started like this:
I woke up at 8:08 and said, “Nancy, it’s ten after eight.”
Me: “It’s ten after eight.”
Me: “It’s twenty minutes till bags to the bus!”
It’s never good when you’re day starts like that! And so started the mad dash to get ready in 20 minutes. One nice thing about a campsite is that when you wake up late you have to walk by everyone at breakfast in your PJ’s so they all know you woke up late. It really adds to the experience. It figured it would be today too! Today was one of the days I was really looking forward to, we were going to see Santa! But not everyone was talking about us getting up late, since they had Corey to talk about, he apparently had too much to drink the night before, nothing is a secret on Contiki.
Anyway, at 9:00 we got to Santa’s Village. I jumped off the bus to get to Santa to get my picture taken and still have time to shop. I was the first to find Santa and had a little chat with him while we set up for my picture. After I got my pictures I wrote up some post cards to send from Santa, and sent a picture to mom at home, I had bought the 5 postcard pictures for 25 euros so I could give them out to the family. After that I took some cheezy photos of me at Santa’s and did some shopping until we left at 10:00. I even managed to have enough time to grab a pastry to eat for breakfast. On the bus I played Uno and Crazy 8’s with Karl, Leah B, Jacqui, and Marie.
Our next stop was for lunch at 1:00, we were at a mall and for the first time in what felt like forever I didn’t have to make my own lunch, someone else made me a cheeseburger. This made me very happy, I think if I had another roll, an apple and a banana for lunch I was going to turn into a fruity roll. After eating I found a pastry shop and got a pink frosted donut, it was good, but not as good as dunkin donuts. Then I still had a few minutes left to look around the mall and in the distance in a store I thought I saw a giraffe. I did! I bought myself a cute little giraffe and named her Clara. The only problem was that half the people on tour didn’t think it looked like a giraffe because she didn’t have a long neck, they thought Clara was a cow. We finally settled on referring to her as a ciraffe. But Clara and I knew the truth.
On this leg of the journey Karl, Jacqui, Marie and I played Crazy 8’s, then Cathy, Marie, Karl, Kieran and I played Uno. As much as we played cards on the bus, it isn’t always easy to do, but it makes the time go faster.
We got to the campsite at 6:30 and had half an hour to get ready for our meeting on the Russia part of the trip. The campsite was on a lovely lake, but the cabins were TINY! I don’t know how someone actually thought 4 people would fit in it, let alone with luggage. But Lis, Jilly, Leah B and I made the best of it. Our suitcases were only opened when we needed them and at some point Leah took hers outside to get to her stuff.
At our meeting the mosquitoes were everywhere, and after Jilly’s blood. Che told us about Dodgy Serge in St. Petersburg and Dodgy Michael in Yartsevo, as well as about Maggy our hyperactive Tour Manager for Russia. He also talked about the Russian Experience Package, and explained that it was an excellent value and that it would make our stay in Russia much better. Some people were a bit skeptical and hadn’t budgeted for it. Then he had us fill out our applications for our Belarussian Visas.
After the meeting I ran for some bug spray wipes I had brought with me and then went to dinner. We had mild curry chicken which wasn’t to bad, then Dion brought out Champagne and Ice Cream. It was Raspberry Champagne and one of the only times I actually enjoyed Champagne. After dinner I hung out by the fire with everyone talking. I even had the 3rd of my 4 Smirnoff Ices (I had the 2nd on the way to Nordkapp). I had been slow drinking them since I had a cold and wanted to get better. But I was feeling a bit better now so I figured I would have one. I had a nice chat with Dion, Wendy and Kevin tonight, which was nice since Wendy and Dion weren’t going to Russia and I wanted to hang out a bit more with the people I wouldn’t be seeing. At 12:30 I decided it was time to head to bed, tomorrow we were going to Helsinki and it was a bit of a transitional day since we would be meeting the group that was going to Russia with us.