Happy New Year and greetings from the top of the world. Literally. My wonderful year of world travels ended with a real Winter Wonderland experience at the Arctic Circle. Less than 2000 miles from the North Pole a town called Rovaniemi in Finland has turned into The Destination for people all over the world who want to meet Santa Claus in person. Having two little boys just the right age to meet Santa, Rovaniemi was calling our name this winter too.Winter fun at Santa Claus Village, cross country skiing... ... and kick sledding on a frozen pond.
Feeding reindeers and meeting the original inhabitants of the area, the Sami people in their colorful costumes, was one of the highlights of the trip.
Santa Village is built right at the Arctic Circle. The purple light rope marks the exact line. Besides manmade wonders I was captivated by the beauty of the nature, the arctic light and the slowly deepening darkness.
Rabbit's paw prints in the snow.
After a wonderful week on the slopes it was time to change the scenery. Helsinki offered new and old pleasures to the eye.

My favorite sight in Helsinki was this new piece of public art in front of the Parliament house. It's called "Oma maa mansikka" "Where the strawberries grow" and I like it for many reasons. My own interpretation of the statue is that if the climate and the environment in Finland is so rough that even wild strawberries must be casted in stainless steel how tough do the people have to be to survive? I also like the fact that the area around the statue is planted with wild strawberries, which bloom and blossom in the summer.After Helsinki we spent another week in Sweden to meet friends and family. Skåne, the southern tip of Sweden was beautiful in a whole different way. No snow in sight and the sea was ice free.

Ale's stones stand silent in the dusk. The original purpose of this Iron Age rock formation is still a mystery.These images make me think of the Vikings.Ystad is a popular beach vacation spot in the summer for Swedes. 17 days and 5 different countries; it will take me a while to unpack my 7 army size duffel bags and get organized. In the meanwhile, please enjoy my renewed website here.