Travel log. Roosevelt, Santa Claus, Tromsø


Today is not a day that will offer any exciting stuff, nothing new on the board, so I keep it real. The authors are continuesly traveling on the bus, crossing the border to Norway soon, going for the most northern point of the complete bus tour, Tromsø, into the zone of the Northern lights. Imagine, watching the pale light finally fade to more paleness on the track to Tromsø which is covered in twilight from late April until mid-August.

But we may have passed the greatest spectacle on our tour already. What is there left to see at all after going to Santa Claus’ hometown in Rovaniemi? Anything else seems to fade away anyway as the childhood’s dream for Christians comes closer: going to the big guy’s home and telling him all my wishes right in his face.

What a surprise that Santa actually lives within human reach. There is a whole village for the big old man with cottages, reindeer sheds and an office for Santa (does he hand in his taxes to Finland?). But please, could someone explain why a so-called Roosevelt Cottage is located in Santa’s merry-go-round fizzney theme park?

1 Santa Claus. 1 Roosevelt. That’s a boundary integral.

The story is actually quite interesting. Where Finnish highway No. 4 crosses the Polar Circle, a stake was erected by one of the former mayors of Rovaniemi, Oiva J. Williams. The spot should function as a helpful indication for tourists to get out and take the most beautiful pictures of the place. What, don’t look at me that way. Yes, true, what am I supposed to take photos of here? – That is a fairly reasonable question. Of the Arctic circle that is not visible? Anyways, do not cross the brook for water (as a Finnish proverb goes). Funny enough, back then, when the stake was erected, some time before 1930 (#1), they didn’t take the effort to measure exactly where the course of the last of lines of latitude runs (#2 of controlled uncertainty). It may have been on the wrong spot. As it turned out, several decades later, they had indeed erected it on the wrong spot. Now, take a few seconds and reflect on what is wrong in the picture.

Yes, it is still the Roosevelt Cabin. Well, Eleanor Roosevelt, at that time widow of the American president, and famous for her humanitarian work, was chairman of UNRRA (predecessor of UNICEF) engaged in aiding post-war Finland in the commencement of tourist services. She visited the Arctic circle and Rovaniemi in 1950, carrying out her duties as a chairman. They drew on Mayor William’s idea  and put the cabin somewhere close to the Arctic circle as well (#4) – it’s still over a 100 metres away from the actual track. At least it has served its purpose very well, that is to merge tourism, scenic landscapes and business into one place in order to build a merry infrastructure. Ho-Ho-Ho.

The scandinavian moment in literature.

Actually, there is something happening on the bus. Although you cannot see it, it is big and I don’t know exactly when it is happening (#5). The crew of authors will change over completely on the way to Tromsø. We have to bid farewell to the crew as we know it. Ricardo, Peter, Satu, Katarzyna, Alev, Marko, Fiston, Andrea, it was a pleasure – all of you enjoy the last part of the ride!

Photo credits: Peter Højrup


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