At the moment I’m working, with progressing desperation, on finding a ride for a fellow who needs to get from Salla to Kandalaksha on Monday, July 16. Here are some notes on my progress, shared in hope they may be useful to travellers.
It turns out that most passenger vans make their runs towards the weekend, leaving Thursdays or Fridays, and the traffic is generally down in the summer. Last time I undertook a search like that on March 2 2018. Here is some additional information:
The procedure is to call them and ask when the next trip is, and to reserve a seat, and to arrange a place to meet. The cost is in the area of 2000 roubles ($40).
If you need help communicating with local service providers feel free to ask me by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org
PS. Just got a call from one of the operators, Sergei, tel. +7 921 157 9231, who confirmed that there are no regular buses but trips are organized “on demand”. At this moment he has the trips scheduled for March 5, 8, 10, and 17. The trip from Rovaniemi to Kandalaksha is 3000 roubles ($50+) and from Salla to Kandalaksha 2000 roubles. No particular pickup point but call Sergei and give him your address, and he’ll pick you up. And HE DOES SPEAK ENGLISH!! Since there are about five operators like him you can pretty much get on the bus every or nearly every day.
PPS. A comment from Alexandra:
It would be good for the foreign traveller to understand that all the buses are focussed on shop tours to Finland for the Russians. That is, the probability is high that either/neither the dispatcher or/nor the driver will speak English, and the routes, the places and times of parking are tied to major stores popular with the Russians. Also many of these tours originate in Murmansk or Apatiny..
The Kukushka festival of Russian and Finnish culture and music is taking place in Vyborg (Finnish: Viipuri), Leningrad region, some 100km northwest from St. Petersburg, on the weekend of August 5-6, on the Central Market Square of the town.
Got the following note from a client of mine with a request to share it with you. Here:
“The exhibition Metsä (Finnish “Forest”) opens on Friday, June 2, at 5 pm. It is arranged by the Murmansk Regional Art Museum, but takes place in the Murmansk Philharmonic Society at Murmansk, ulitsa S. Perovskoy 3. It consists of 40 large black & white photographs (10 from each country), and a book has been published with 60 photos, and text in English, Finnish, Russian and Sami.
I enclose two word docs of the foreword I wrote in the book, in Russian and English, if you would like to mention this on your website. For pictures, please go to my website, and copy some images from http://perberntsen.com/_artwork/_pages/metsa1.php“
Today, May 5, for the first time this spring, I took off my winter coat, and remained comfortable without it for a few hours while walking around the neighbouring Rovaniemi, Finland. Guess the polar summer is here.
Oh, white nights are have started too.
And first flies and mosquitoes, although still half-asleep and not at all aggressive, have been sighted as well.
Yet Kirovsk reports that the snowmobile season is still on however. Now may be about the best time to visit the region if you are looking for summer sun and winter fun.
The last 15km long dirt and gravel section of the Alakurtti to Salla (Finland) road has finally been covered with asphalt. The ceremony of opening the road took place yesterday. Travel between Kandalaksha and Finland is now even easier.
Oulanka National Park, “Small Bear” trail, Finland
As of recent I’ve been made to do considerably more hiking than I’d want to, both in Russia and Finland.
Comparing the two, Finland is most definitely better equipped for this sort of pastime, with lots of trails complete with conveniences that include huts where one can stay overnight, with firewood supplied. more >>
B-port reports that in January-February of 2016 the value of goods transported across the Finnish-Russian border dropped by 35.2% in value compared to the same period last year. The reason is mutual sanctions. For an average non-commercial traveller that means fewer lineups at the border-crossing points. For us, making a living off traveller support, on the other hand, that explains why clients are few and far between these days.. Guess it could be a good time to announce a “beginning of the season” special at $100/day for my humble services, back to the mid-90s rate.
Here is a Foreign Policy article I’ve stumbled into, How Finland Became Europe’s Bear Wisperer by Reid Standish, with a comprehensive yet comprehensible overview of how Finland managed to retain functional relations with Russia while remaining on the “western” side of the line. Recommended to anyone with an interest in the Russian-Finnish politics and Russia’s relations with its smaller neighbours. I confess that in my radical younger days I considered Finland’s policies “wimpish” but am now close to recognizing the wisdom of this country’s collective mind.
Finnish custom officials fined a couple crossing the border to finland at Salla an equivalent of $20 for having a few tablets of outdated metamizole (a very common analgetic in Russia) in their car’s first-aid kit.
Apparently expired medicines are legally classified as “hazardous waste” in Finland, with all the consequences.
Guess all that Syrian migrant business made the normally calm Finnish border patrol guys irritated and over-zelous in performing their duties.