Oddities of Finnish road trips
We were all the way up in Kuusamo (almost-Lapland) for Jeremy's race two weeks ago. Here are some oddities of a Finnish road trip.
1. You don't have to do a road trip in your car! On the way up to Kuusamo, we took a Car Train. It's a sleeper train from the big southern cities up to Rovaniemi. You load your car on the train and then spend the ride in a sleeping compartment. I really liked spending the night on the train and letting it do the driving for us! It was like magic to wake up and arrive in Rovaniemi with our car.
2. Road trips in other countries mean eating cold lunches in the car - sandwiches, carrot sticks, you know. In Finland, it's common to get a hot lunch at midday, even on a road trip. Most towns and even some gas stations will have hot lunch buffets available.
3. Speed limits are so variable and that kind of sucks. One of the joys of an American road trip is setting the cruise control at 65mph and leaving it there for hours. Here in Finland, most of the time you'll be driving 100kph with significant stretches at 80kph, dipping down to 60kph in towns. And there are speed cameras everywhere.
4. There are no rest areas as such, but lots of pull-outs without services, signposted ahead of time. Instead of rest areas, there are travel plazas every once in a while with gas, a buffet restaurant, maybe a small supermarket, and sometimes a random attraction tacked on. We've been to travel plazas with an attached rock garden, an old train car, and - our favorite - bouncy castles and a trampoline.
(We stumbled upon the bouncy castle/trampoline stop last year and I immediately saved it in our car's GPS so we could go there again this year. It is the best! I still can't believe a business here put up a trampoline and bouncy castle and just...lets people jump on them.)
5. On spring/summer road trips, it never gets dark. Never. This is lovely and safe but it makes it weird for the kids because there's no cue to go to sleep. We got home from our Kuusamo trip a little after eleven pm last Sunday and the kids were all still awake. It was...fun.
I've really enjoyed our road trips in Finland, and the Car Train was a positive new experience!