Being in Rovaniemi one just has to go and say “hello” to the Santa Claus! They say he’s the real one, but… well, we somehow do not believe them. Nevertheless it is kind of exciting experience.
Santa Claus business got so popular that now there are two places to choose from – one next to another! There’s the Santa Clause Village (“The official residence of Santa Claus”) and Santapark, a Christmas-theme amusement park. According to web pages the REAL Santa can be met in both places on a daily basis.
We decided to visit the first place. The Santa Claus Village lies directly on the Arctic Circle (in Finland called Napapiri), about 8km north from Rovaniemi. It is a mix of souvenir shops, places to eat, accommodation and winter activities spots. There is also the Santa Claus Post Office where we can send a postcard to be delivered for Christmas. And there’s obviously Santa Claus himself.
It was a strange visit – in the middle of the summer (although the temperature did not indicate that…) from the speakers reached us the melody of Silent Night, everywhere were decorated Christmas trees and presents (S was very unhappy that he could not unpack them). And that question from N – “If Santa Claus doesn’t exist, how can we visit him?”
Just behind the Arctic Circle there’s the office where Santa Claus meets his guests every day of the year. It’s a very cozy place where one feels like Christmas even in the middle of summer. The meeting with Santa takes about 2 min during which time official photo is taken (taking private photos is forbidden). Since the photography costs 25€ we decided not to take it.
Santa is a really nice and warm fellow. He has greeted us with “Dzień dobry!” and “!Hola!” (in Polish and Spanish) and immediately began the conversation. In spite of it our Little Rascals were too intimidated to talk to him and only N managed to whisper “Thank you” when he gave her a sticker.
As much as I love the idea of Santa (well, not that much paying 25€ for a photo…) and enjoyed meeting with him, far more exciting was for me the moment of crossing the Arctic Circle. Although the kids did not understand the seriousness of the moment ;-) N liked the information that she was the first one from her whole big family to get so far in the North.
At the end of our visit we ate lunch in a nearby restaurant, which deters with the prices (main dish is 22-24€) as much as attracts with the atmosphere. Wooden grill hut with a fire in the center, dimness, long wooden tables, piano (V loves playing the piano!) and, as it turned out later, delicious food! (But with a disgusting coffee like almost throughout the Finland)