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Arctic Winter Challenge

awclogo.jpg This is my report on my trip to Rovaniemi, and the wonderful time I had. It will not be accurate, but it will give a good insight on my impression on how I experienced the trip and what I learned… I think :)

Saturday 24-02-07

We met each other at 07:30 at the Schiphol National Airport, at the meeting place. Everyone, except Robert was right on time so we waited for like an hour or so for Robert to arrive. The line at the check in desk was quite big, bigger than accounted for by Schiphol, and than we also had to go a special line because we wanted to check in as a group, because the weight of our luggage (well actually mine luggage) was too high. All together we had no real problems, except for the time. We checked in at 09:05 and had to go to the gate and through the customs. At the customs we also had to wait because Anneke was being searched really well and had to give up her jar of mustard. The flight itself to Helsinki was quite smooth, no troubles, a little turbulence at the start, that was all.

At Helsinke our luggage was quickly recovered, and we checked in immediately so we got rid of the luggage. Because we still had some time we went outside for a moment, because we wanted to feel the cold. Well we did. It was cold, but it was also fun because of course we had to throw with snow, which didn't really work because the snow was powder in stead of the snow we are used to, a little bit melted so you can make snowballs and throw them. That was kind of a shame, but there wasn't much we could do about it… After that we had to go through the customs again, and Anneke was checked again, which was starting to get funny. This time is was for the flour to make pancakes. Because we had to wait for quite some time, we played video games on a sega machine that was around, we played card games and Berend and I bumped into each other which make Berend his eye brow to break, which was, again, quite funny. The flight itself was really cool, the plane had a video system which made it possible to look under the plane during take off.

When we arrived at Rovaniemi it was already getting dark, and while we were waiting for our luggage there were toy animals like bears, foxes and owls at the airport. That was pretty cool. Finn and Esa were there to pick us up, but they weren't going with us to the cottage. So when we arrived there, the only one we knew was Tim (who was already there). Which wasn't too bad, because that way we quickly introduced ourself and got to know the Finnish people who were at the cottage. I still don't know if that was planned, but it was quite clever, because the ice was broken immediately.
And then one remark on the cab who brought us to the cottage, I would have never believed it was possible to go through a turn with 80 kilometers an hour while the roads are frozen and covered with ice. Respect for the cab driver.

And than finally, it was time for the sauna. I never done sauna for my entire life… but it was great. I really felt relaxed afterwards, and I also rolled over in the snow, which I may say, is quite an experience…

After that we kind of went to bed, and it was really hot so a sheet was enough…

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Sunday 25-02-07

At Sunday we slept till quite late, because we all were pretty tired. At breakfast we had delicious bread (those Finnish really know their bread), and afterwards we had quite some name remembering games. I'm always quite good at those, so from that point on I knew most of their names. I also put Thomas under the snow which was a lot of fun. After that we learned our first paces with the forest skiing, which wasn't all that easy but a lot of fun, we walked over a frozen lake which reminded me of the King Arthur scene from the movie… In the noon we had a match so they could devide us into groups for the next day. I was in the middle group and I think that was justified, bacause I wasn't that bad, but also not one of the best. I was in the group with Inge, Rogier and Pieter which was a fun group.

At night we had a conservation about dehydration and what to do with the cold and stuff, for me it wasn't all that interesting because I work as a volunteer for the life guards at the beach in The Hague so I already knew everything.

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Monday 26-02-07

The moment we've all been waiting for… a trip on forest skies! And a surprise, the Finnish people who should have guarded us called in sick (so to say). So it was just the four of us, and as said before, we had a great group, and I had a great day. We left as second and arrived as first which is a great feeling of course. When we arrived at the cottage, my first impression was like… what the fuck… no electricity, no heat, no water, toilet outside in the cold… so cool! I really like those kind a things, so we started the fire, but there was better work than that. We had to make a hole in the ice for water, and the ice was approximately 50 cm thick, so me, and some of the others including some of the Finnish people had to start chopping (with an axe) into the ice. I think it took us about two hours, maybe less, but it felt like two hours… But it was all worth it, the water tasted so nice, just a cup into the water and drink it…

There was one thing that was bothering me though, the lack of light. It was really annoying that there wasn't any light in the cottage, not even candles. And it's no fun to eat in the dark.

At night the others created big piles of snow while I was doing the dishes and afterwards we had a big campfire, and had a beer while doing a sauna. That was also a great experience. Especially because there was a women in there, she joined us just that day… so beautifull… sigh…

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Tuesday 27-02-07

At tuesday there came by a professor from Finns school/university, and he taught us how to make iglo's and snow caves. I don't remember his name, but he looked like a gnome. Great guy :) I started with the Iglo but ended up making a snow cave, because the snow was too soft and it wasn't freezing hard enough to make it work, but the snow caves were just great. You start with making a hole in one side of the big piles that were made the night before, and deeper and deeper. Sticks in the side to prevent you from going through it, and I ended up sleeping in one of them, together with Inge and Thomas.

Before that, we went driving with the snow mobiles which was just fantastic. We went up to 100 kilometers an hour…

And after that, we had a beer tasting event. Because that happens a lot in Holland, I wanted the Finnish people to experience a real beer tasting event. I had like eight different kind of beers ans they really liked it :). They liked Hertog Jan and La Trappe Witte Trappist the most… but I kind of expected that…

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Wednesday 28-02-07

The day of exhaustion… because the Finnish people felt that on the first day we were way too well on the skies they made the track a bit harder… So instead of a few small hills we had to go on a mountain…. and one of my ski sticks broke, so I had to go on my own path, I couldn't follow the others because I had no grip. That was really heavy, but I made it. When we arrived at the cottage there was again no heat, no water and all that stuff. Turned out to be quite an experience because there was no wood and no lodges and stuff… so it took quite some time to heat it up. And we were going to sleep in a tent with a heater on wood inside it.

I also had a drive with a snow mobile that day. I was taking lessons for motorcycle riding back then and it was quite the same, so the only thing I had to learn was to let go of the handle to slow down, when I encountered that, it was so much fun. Esa told me I drove like a madman, but I think I drove slower than the Finnish guys so I think that was quite ok.

For dinner we had meatballs, that was so nice because everyone was so tired and the meatballs made everybody happy again. So everyone was feeling a lot better again, and that was just as well, because of the cold, and all the hard work and the trouble with the fire everybody just had it by than. The meatballs fixed everything.

Before we went to bed I gave another presentation, this time about the Dutch Scouting organization. I really prepared it with cardboard uniforms and stuff like that. It was fun to do, but it was quite hard for everyone to keep their attention to it, because everyone was so tired. Except for one point where I had Berend make everybody wet with a water pistol which was to show what happened during WWII.

The sleeping in the tent with the heater went quite well, a bit smoky and sometimes a bit cold, especially when I was laying on my back but it was doable.

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Thursday 01-03-07

Thursday was the day to return to the church cottage, which was mostly down hills. That was quite nice because the first phase was really down hill, say skiing down hill, and I didn't even fell down. The group I was in that day was with Robert, Berend and Anneke, and we were back quite fast. Oh, and we saw rendeers on the way :)

That night we had Dutch evening which meant boerenkool met worst, which means something like farmer cabbage with sausage, but a very special sausage. We also played Dutch games all evening and we had really a lot of fun. I really can't recall who won, so I guess it wasn't my group…

That night I took a sauna again, and because some of the others had made an ice bath instead of rolling in the snow I took ice baths to cool down, which was fun as well. After that everybody slept like roses because we were all that tired.

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Friday 02-03-07

At Friday we all went to a museum, and it was boring. I normally like museums, but this one was a bit odd, not really much to tell, only about the history of the northern part of Finnland, lapland. And honestly, there isn't that much to tell about it…

Luckily the rest of the day was fun, we went to an knife museum, and that was a lot of fun, I even bought a knife. And then, me, Berend, Inge and Thomas went on Huskie safari, a sled with dogs, and it was great to do, a bit slow though… Afterwards we went to see Santa Clause in his village, and the post office. Really funny to see all the letters from all over the world that are sent to Santa Clause. About Santa, that guy can't be the real Santa, if he's on my roof, he's gonna go through it…

That night we went out to a club called Tivoli, had some beers, danced a little, all together a great night. Didn't score Finnish girl though… ah well…

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Saturday 03-03-07

Saturday… I can't hardly recall, we had a kind of tour through the city while solving puzzles to go to the next place. I ended up with Berend and two finnish guys who harldly knew what they were doing… and it was kinda childish.. so at two o'clock we went into a bar to have a beer. After the beer we went on… at the last assignment I snapped, I couldn't handle it anymore. I'm not a child, so I kind a freaked out which was a lot of fun because there was international television there for some world cup skiing sport thing…

But afterwards we had pizza so that made up for it :)

I really can't recall that night presentation, I know it was about the difference in distances for Scouting in the Netherlands compared to Finland, but I really don't know anymore. We wanted to go to bed early, bud it was after all something like one o'clock and the next day we had to go back again…

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Sunday 04-03-07

At the airport at Rovaniemi we found out that there are only 8-10 flights a day… quite amazing, compare that to Schiphol or Rotterdam airport… At Helsinki we had to wait for like 5 hours or something, there was something broken in the plane, but we came home safely.

Overall impressions

Some remarks on some of the things I experienced in Finnland:
I didn't see the northern light, that was quite disappointing.
The food they have is simple, but really well tasting.
Finnish are friendly and welcoming
Forestskiiing is the best thing to do
I will be going back

Discussion

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arcticwinterchallenge.txt · Last modified: 2010/04/02 20:20 (external edit)