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Pole to Pole

Day 22: Rovaniemi to Helsinki

Rovaniemi, Finland 
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Michael Palin - Pole to PoleThe railway line to Rovaniemi was built when Finland was a part of Tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union is still seen as a baleful presence, a lurking threat to the spectacular prosperity the Finns have experienced since their independence in 1917.

There are only five million people in Finland, and they enjoy the second highest standard of living in Europe. They also share a long border with a country that is cracking up, and one of their great fears is that Gorbachev's reforms will one day lead to a flood of Russian immigrants. I ask the daughter of a Finnish family I met in the train's restaurant car what she knows of Russia.

She grimaces. 'I have heard there is very robbery there. One of my friends is robbery in money and clothes and a clock.'

Kari joins in enthusiastically. A friend of his had been robbed by a taxi driver in Estonia.

'Left him with no money, no luggage, no passport.'

I can't wait.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 22
  • Country/sea: Finland
  • Place: Rovaniemi
  • Book page no: 44

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