Travel Journal

The luxuries of Finland

(Friday 4 July 2014) by Mariken
Guess what? I had to use my flash light last night! We have arrived in Helsinki, in the very south of Finland, and our sunny midnights are over. We still enjoy long days with plenty of daylight, but for our biological clock this is definitely an improvement. Too bad for the environment though, that we have to start using batteries again. :-p

So what have we been doing for the past two weeks? After Rovaniemi, where I wrote the last post, we headed for Posio, where we spent a splendid week in total relax-mode. We rented a cabin, how luxurious! Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures of it, but is was the summum of cosiness, a small log cabin, with a small loft on which we made our 'den'. We could cook inside the cabin and the morning sauna was free. Imagine our delight! :-D Other than our cabin and the sauna, we enjoyed the beautiful nature Posio and its surroundings have to offer, Auttikongas nature reserve and Korouoma nature reserve. The only drawbacks were the wasps in the beams of the cabin and the mosquitoes during the walks. I am not a big fan of bugs, but especially mosquitoes are an unavoidable part of life in Scandinavia in summer.

After Posio we finally went south again, sometimes narrowly avoiding a collision with a stray reindeer, who remain standing in the middle of the road no matter how many cars head in their direction! A few days ago we arrived in Kuopio, home to the biggest wood smoke sauna in the world. And that was definitely worth the trip! A true Finnish experience, it was hot, way hotter than those sissy-saunas in the Netherlands. And to top it off, we did as the Fins do and jumped in the lake (which was cold!) after each warm-up. Unfortunately, inhaling the wood smoke for a prolonged period of time is not really healthy, and wood smoke saunas are quite inflammable (the one in Kuopio burnt down three times), so it is difficult nowadays to obtain a permission to build one, but we were told that a wood smoke sauna, despite its obvious drawbacks, is the real deal when it comes to Finnish sauna. What was also the real deal in Kuopio was a local delicacy called kalakukko, a fish pie with a thick rye crust. It is quite heavy (generally they sell it in portions of a kilo, but Jacco and me shared a 250 gr pieces, which was absolutely enough to serve as a decent lunch), but truly delicious.

And now Helsinki, after a short detour to Savonlinna. Helsinki is definitely not the most beautiful of the Scandinavian capitals, but we spent a very nice day there today, strolling around, visiting some churches and free museums (Helsinki City Museum and the National Museum of Finland after 4 pm). But we spent a truly magnificent hour in an outdoor cafe*, which did a good korvapuusti (cinnamon bun) and decent tea and coffee. Unlimited refills were free and - and now comes the good part - they even paid me 5 cents per refill! :-* Call me Dutch, but I calculated the consequences: the original tea costed 1,80 euro, which means that if you take one tea and 35 refills, you have 36 free cups of tea, so with the 37th you start making a profit. Maybe they charge 5 euro per toilet visit? :-? I didn't stay to find out (for those who wonder, I had 3 cups of tea).

And the next step? Tallinn! Our ferry tickets have been booked, we leave tomorrow, at 3.30 pm. Bye bye Scandinavia, hello Estonia!

* I know 'cafe' needs an accent on the 'e', but somehow this doesn't work anymore. When I use the correct accent, this is what you get: 'cafÃ'. Not really what I was looking for...

  • Sauna!!! by Marije
    • Cold plunge? by Mariken

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