19th July 2016. Leaving Sweden via Finland. Overnight stop in Laplassen, Norway.

We made our way to a village on the Swedish/Finnish boarder called Karesuando.

En route we pulled off the main road and stopped for lunch at a pretty restplats which had a picnic area beside a lake.

We ate in the van because we wanted to get moving quickly but we thought we’d stretch our legs before we left by having a walk down by the lake.   What a mistake that was, as you can see from the photographs!  I’m sure the people in the other van parked there were laughing their socks off!  We discovered that this area was mossie central but we didn’t discover that fact until we’d walked down to the lake when funnily enough I got back to the van in record time!

In 2011 Darren had surprised me by taking me to Finland for a weekend break to celebrate our 50th birthdays, he didn’t tell me where we were going until we got on the plane.  We’d stayed at a village on the Finnish side of the bridge and walked across the bridge to the Swedish side with some friends we made during the trip, Carole and Dave.  We had our photo taken straddling the boarder in the snow, it was unbelievably cold.

I’ve added some snowy photos from the last time we were there to show the difference.

I paddled in the river that we walked across last time we were here.  I thought it would be freezing cold but it wasn’t any colder at the edge than the water in our local pond in the Summer.  The last time we were here we’d also been very lucky and seen the Northern Lights.

We had a nice surprise as we drove along the main road from Finland to Norway on Route 21, we saw a float plane.  During our journey through Sweden Darren had been wondering why they didn’t use float planes on the lakes, it turns out they do.  We stopped off at a viewing point to take some photos of the mountains which had a bit of snow on them and then drove along the road to a café where we’d first met our friends Carole and Dave so I could photograph it for them minus the snow.

As we were leaving I was moaning that we hadn’t seen any reindeer for ages when Darren suddenly said “What’s that in the road?”  There wandering down the main road towards us was a reindeer, on the correct side of the road, as Darren pointed out to me.  I was very happy.

The reindeer nonchalantly sauntered towards us and walked past the van without a second glance, as we drove off we saw a huge lorry drive up behind him, I wonder how long the lorry had to follow the reindeer before it finally wandered off the main road.

We stopped for the night in a restplats which was a large clearing overlooking the mountains with snow on them.  A waterfall and a little stream were running along in front of us however Darren also had a restplats programmed in which was beside the sea and curiosity got the better of us so we decided to drive down to see what that was like with the proviso that if it wasn’t as nice as this one we could drive back as it was only 15 minutes away.

Darren’s getting wise to the SAT NAV now, we came to a T-junction and it had a red line going to the right AND to the left and it was telling him to turn left and then do a ‘U’ turn!  Needless to say he ignored it and turned right.

We came to a little dirt track with a sign to the restplats.  We weren’t sure whether that was the correct place until we spied what looked like a motorhome through the trees.

The place was magical, we parked within six feet of the estuary, the sea was over to the right, there was a hummock with harebells growing on it between us and the estuary and on the other side of the water was a nature reserve and mountains with waterfalls running down them and areas of snow on the peaks.  Heaven on earth, our first sighting of a fjord.

It rained intermittently for a while after we got there but we had some entertainment thrown in.  There were only three other vans parked there, the nearest was about 100 metres away from us and the next one along was parked in the trees.

A family came out from the van in the trees and had a walk along the beach in the rain then as it got heavier they went back to their van.  Ten minutes later (it was 8 p.m.) they re-emerged in their swimming costumes, at least the dad and his two children did but the mum was warmly wrapped up in a coat with her hood up, Dad had obviously picked the short straw!  They picked their way over the stones, it looked rather painful, and tentatively walked into the water.  Eventually the dad threw himself into the water which we could see from his reaction was unsurprisingly cold and we thought the children would decide they didn’t want to go in after all but the oldest child followed her dad, then jumped straight up and ran out of the water, the little one was having none of it and just walked out.

The dad and his children then had to pose for the mum while she took photos of them, they must be so hardy because there was an Arctic chill in the air earlier in the evening BEFORE it started raining.  It seems however they weren’t wet enough and they went back to the water where again the dad and older child dunked themselves and the younger one bobbed down so her knees got wet and then wandered out.  Mum must have got all the photos she needed by then so they were allowed to stop “swimming” or maybe it was raining too hard by then and she was getting wet too.

Either way it was great fun to watch from inside the dry warm van while we hazarded a guess as to what the family were saying and reminisced about the times we’d gone to a beach on the South Coast of England (not known for its balmy water) with our neighbours, Jez and Jayne and our respective children.  Somehow Darren and Jayne always managed to sit on the beach “looking after the bags” while Jez and I had to go into the freezing sea with the children (it was fun once I’d got over the initial dunking, aaaaargh!) so I take my hat off to their mum for wangling the job of photographer on this occasion!

It was so beautiful, the rain stopped for a while, the sun peaked through the clouds and mist hung over the mountains.  I’d have liked to have said it was peaceful too but unfortunately the seabirds were giving it their all and they’re not renowned for their singing voices!

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