A Travellerspoint blog

Finland

On the road to Hell

sunny 29 °C

We definitely were able to do a lot travelling this summer which I am ecstatic about. I am also ecstatic that I was finally able to cross over something from my ever-growing bucket list. That was visiting Helvetinjärvi National Park (Lake Hell National Park), one of the many national parks in Finland. It is situated on the route to my dad’s house and I had driven by many times but never visited. And of course the ear-worm of the day would be provided by Chris Rea. I will add it below so you can enjoy it with me:

Well, I'm standing by a river but the water doesn't flow
It boils with every poison you can think of
Then I'm underneath the streetlights, but the light of joy I know
Scared beyond belief way down in the shadows
And the perverted fear of violence chokes a smile on every face
And common sense is ringing out the bells
This ain't no technological breakdown, oh no, this is the road to hell

Tuesday

We packed our car + caravan and headed towards Helvetinjärvi, it was going to take us between 3-4 hours to get there from home. Driving would be slower than usual us towing the caravan behind us.

Last kilometers where via road so narrow that we were crossing our fingers that we wouldn’t meet anyone. It would be impossible for two cars drive by each other without one or both of them ending up in the ditch. Luckily, we didn’t come across anyone but signs telling us that we would soon be there. Signs that were saying things like “Boar burger in 3 kilometers” or “Coffee in 2 kilometers”.

There we found big parking lot and across the street small cafeteria/restaurant/info where we got our key to the showers and instructions where we could park our mobilehome. Owner also said that the parking lot is popular with caravans since it is closer to toilets/showers but I wanted to be in the “real” caravan park. That appeared to be grove where they had made spots for parking with grovel. We chose a place farthest away from the maintenance building since there were couple caravans already on the places situated closer and the ones in the middle all had electricity which we haven’t paid for. Our spot had too but we thought it to be fair that ones who had paid for it should be able to pick those places nearer the amenities. And I really liked our spot! It would have shade in the morning and sun during the afternoon.

c77c9380-3394-11ed-b56b-676d6c89370f.jpg

Restaurant/Reception

d5572d30-3394-11ed-a9ee-430619ff0f50.jpg

Maintenance building

Almost immediately after we had made our camp it started pouring rain so we headed to the restaurant to try some of that boar. I almost chose to try ostrich but the boar burger called my name. And it was SO good! The owner kept boars and ostriches so the meals there were made of local products! Always a nice perk!

3dc1fb20-3395-11ed-a9ee-430619ff0f50.jpg

Ostrich eggs

Evening went nicely playing Scrabble and enjoying camping. And even with only 2 toilets there haven’t been need for waiting, at least not yet. The shower was quite small but it did what it was suppose to and there was enough hot water for us even we being the last ones to use it that day. You just can’t know beforehand in places like this. We once rented a small cabin in campsite in Sweden and the water-heater was so small that 2 couldn’t take a hot shower back-to-back because the thing wasn’t able to heat water fast enough for it. And we did try to be quick! But no problems like that in here!

And one of the best parts was that the internet sucked in the camping site! I know it is a choice to look at your phone, e-mails and social media, but when that choice is taken away from you, you are forced to leave the phone well alone, very refreshing!

2579db00-3395-11ed-99d9-f343144e8682.jpg

Camping site

21c9f260-3395-11ed-a9ee-430619ff0f50.jpg

Our camp

Wednesday

We woke up and had a very lazy morning. We made coffee and had breakfast leisurely and headed to the forest tracks well past noon. The route we were taking is called Helvetistä itään (East from Hell). There is Finnish rock/heavy metal band called Kotiteollisuus and one of their songs is also called Helvetistä itään but I am not sure which one came first, the track named after the song or was the route muse to this song, however, if you like that kind of music like I do, you would like the song! And the route looked great too!

33ca6800-3395-11ed-99d9-f343144e8682.jpg

Gate to Hell

But I do know how the name Helvetinjärvi (Lake Hell) came to be. Old story tells that landlord from Ruokkee took a pike from Sipiläs fish trap. Situation broke in to a fight, both verbal and non-verbal kind. After the skirmish, a witch from Sipilä said that “As long as my nails are soft, pikes won’t rise from this Lake from Hell.” Which happened and pikes didn’t take to baits for a very long time.

There are tracks going everywhere and both, now and in yester-years the area has been sparse. Albeit nowadays there might be slightly more people living in the area than back then. Now we hardly felt that we are middle of wilderness, every now and then seeing people walking on the tracks or hearing them talking in the distance. Place seemed to be popular with dog walkers too.

b3fa5fe0-3394-11ed-a9ee-430619ff0f50.jpg

Signs on the way

20220720_135232.jpg

Signs on the way

In the past people walked in the woods gathering berries, mushrooms and firewood and their cattle pastured right along side them. Boats were kept in both ends of the long lakes enabling people to travel longer distances. Tar pits has also been founded in the area.

Along the route was one camping site in Helvetin Kolu which was built in 1920 and youth have been gathered here away from danceless Sundays for years. Or I think they might not do that anymore but back in the day, church prohibited processions which took place at fifth Sunday after Easter, Prayer Sunday. Those processions danced in the fields asking for a good crop. Church replaced those with processions of their own in 4rd century and the dance ban was lifted in 1960. But the “day hut” are still popular place for people nearby.

20220720_135719.jpg

Lake near the day hut

20220720_135832.jpg

At the day hut

Helvetin Kolu, is a, by Finnish standards, big ravine, and it was the first place in Helvetinjärvi where nature was protected. That was in 1950’s and in 1960’s the nearby Haukkajärvi was protected too.

Helvetin Kolu is northernmost place which you can come across Frullania tamarisciI (its a type of moss). I didn’t know that when we were there, but to be honest, I can’t differentiate one type of flower from other in a good day, so the odds of me finding this particular moss in the forest radiates between slim to none, hah.

We walked by this ravine and I tried to take photos of it but they just didn’t turn out well. All you can see in them is green and gray, the dimensions aren’t visible at all! But in person its beautiful and well worth visiting.

20220720_140855.jpg
Near the Helvetin Kolu

20220720_141657.jpg
Near the Helvetin Kolu

20220720_140643.jpg

Getting close to the ravine

20220720_141550.jpg

Helvetin Kolu Ravine

People have travelled around here from early 19th century and its landscapes has starred Akseli Gallen-Kallelas paintings. He enjoyed coming here so much that he even brought his artistfriend Louis Sparre with him, who was inspired to paint the scenery too.

We haven’t been walked for long before I needed to put on some mosquito repellent, there seemed to be plenty of those around here! Also lots of more pleasant wildlife too. Plenty of birds, squirrels and baby-frogs!

246ab4f0-3395-11ed-99d9-f343144e8682.jpg

Few of the gazillion photos I took

243a0800-3395-11ed-a9ee-430619ff0f50.jpg
Few of the gazillion photos I took

20220720_171159.jpg
Few of the gazillion photos I took

20220720_153713.jpg
Few of the gazillion photos I took

20220720_152019.jpg
Few of the gazillion photos I took

20220720_150349.jpg

Few of the gazillion photos I took

20220720_143906.jpg
Few of the gazillion photos I took

20220720_135501.jpg
Few of the gazillion photos I took

20220720_134857.jpg

Few of the gazillion photos I took

20220720_133830.jpg
Few of the gazillion photos I took

Apart from the gnats the scenery was beautiful and we enjoyed walking in the forest so much that when we came to turning point where we could have started back to the camper, we chose to take the route which took as deeper in to the forest. In there we found another camping site and a spot near the lake so beautiful Toni decided that we should build a cabin in there.

20220720_152420.jpg
One way to get people out of your photos

20220720_155254.jpg

Haukkajärvi

20220720_155515.jpg
Spot for our cabin

All in all, we walked approximately 10 kilometers or so, and there were some hills too so I would say we had earned the wine with our Scrabble tonight!

Thursday

This morning I was very glad that we had done the Helvetistä itään-track yesterday! We had talked about doing some other route today, or maybe renting a Yurt sauna, but when we woke up it was already too hot to breathe. Maybe I am being a just a bit melodramatic, but I was already sweating after a trip to the toilets and they were just couple hundred meters away. Thermometer reached almost 30C today, so no walking or sauna for us today, thank you very much!

3429ed20-3395-11ed-99d9-f343144e8682.jpg

We did go to take a peek of the Yurt Sauna

Jurttasauna.jpg

Pier near the Yurt Sauna

I did make us pancakes just to have something to do alongside with my reading and sunbathing. I had American pancakes mix and that might have been mistake. My Muurikka-pan was so hot that the pancakes either came out from it raw inside or burnt outside. Maybe the typical Finnish-kind which makes thinner crepe-kind of pancakes, would have been better, but you know what they say about hindsight

Evening went like the previous ones, playing Scrabble, and some cards and Yatzy too, just to have some variety.

Friday

Today was Bye bye Helvetinjärvi and Greetings Nurmijärvi. Via Hämeenlinna where we met a friend for a quick coffee.

But before that we steered out from the camping site and took a different route from what we came from. The ostrich and boar farm, was just beside that road. We could have come here yesterday for a wee walk, it was just half a kilometer away from the camping site if we would have known it was so close and could be seen from the road.

In Finnish boar is called villisika, which direct translation being a wild pig, so my question to you is, is boar wild anymore when it lives in a ranch? The purpose of this question, no reason, just a sneak peek inside my brains for you.

My dad lives in Nurmijärvi and my gramps have moved in with them so I had a chance to see him too. We enjoyed our evening there, had a BBQ and couple of beers while catching up.

Saturday

Last night dad said that this time we are going to do something because everytime I visit we are just staying home. I don’t mind staying at home at all. But I also didn’t mind our plans for today either, we were going to visit Suomenlinna and I haven’t been there before.

You reach there by short ferry-ride and 800 people live there year-round. It made in to Unesco Word heritage listing in 1991 for its unique military architecture. Building was started in 1748 under Swedish rule, Sweden being scared of Russia and needed a somewhere to place a military. War in Pommern interrupted the building in 1756 and it never continued, albeit existing building was already named Sveaborg. In 1808 Sveaborg, Viapori in its Finnish name, surrendered to Russian troops thus beginning of Russian rule started.

By independence in 6.12.1917, doing with some technicalities, Viapori remained under Russia and Finland didn’t get it back until the Civil War in 1918 when it got a new name, Suomenlinna.

20220723_113925.jpg

My dad and stepmom on the ferry

20220723_114717.jpg
View from the ferry

20220723_115741.jpg
Almost there

20220723_120131.jpg
Suomenlinna

20220723_122338.jpg

Something yellow

20220723_120328.jpg
Yellow is the color of the day

20220723_122610.jpg
And more yellow!

20220723_120415.jpg
People enjoying their Saturday

20220723_123418.jpg
View towards Helsinki

20220723_140018.jpg
Sun was there too at times

20220723_140447.jpg

Good photo of my dad and Toni if I say so myself

20220723_143128.jpg
Sun and sea

20220723_143829.jpg
Sun and sea

20220723_145701.jpg

More people enjoying their day out

20220723_154226.jpg
The wall has hair!!

20220723_141453.jpg
Archway!

20220723_122928.jpg

New friends

20220723_143020.jpg
Windows on the wall

20220723_145557.jpg
Flag

20220723_170131.jpg

Cafe

We spent lovely day exploring around the island, and had another BBQ when we got back home.

One thing to be said about Nurmijärvi. It is only 30 minutes away from the airport by car. Can you see where this is going?
You would be spot on if your mind went directly to airplanes.. When we turned in for the night, we booked flights to Krakow! 15 hours to your upcoming trip, what a lovely thing to see on your screen when you are making the bookings!

Posted by hennaonthetrek 18:48 Archived in Finland Tagged #summer #boats #nature #castle #travelling #camping #finland #fortress #nationalparks #summerholiday #forest #foresttracks Comments (8)

Does it always wind in Åland?

Little bit more exploring around Finland

sunny 19 °C
View Åland on hennaonthetrek's travel map.

14.6. Monday

I had already made all the reservations for my trip to Åland, when last weekend we were spending with my spouses family in their summer cottage, Tonis sister-in-law suggested that I should take their middle child (14 y.) with me since she hadn’t anything planned for the summer yet.
Toni was supposed to go with me but his summer holiday was postponed and I couldn’t shift mine, so I agreed and made the changes that Mia could come with me.

And this morning I hopped on the train from very gloomy Kokkola and was glad that the weather seemed to be improving with every kilometer we were moving farther from home.

In very sunny and warm Tampere we had to wait for our next train and spend the time on top of Torni hotel in Moro bar drinking moctails.

20210614_140216.jpg

Moctails in Moro Bar

Our train was on time arriving Turku and after checking-in to our hotel we immediately leaved to explore the marina, Turku Castle and get something to eat.

20210614_181314.jpg

World biggest daisy in the marina

Castle wasn’t open but we got to peak inner-ward anyway. Castle was builded in 1280 and has been used as an fortification, held court, prison, storehouse and barracks. 1941 it was bombed which led to restaurations takin place after war.
Now together with Turku Cathedral it is one of the oldest buildings still in use and the largest surviving medieval building in Finland.

20210614_183906.jpg

Turku Castle

I had warned Mia that I am planning to take advantage that Toni wasn’t travelling with me by eating Chinese on this trip and that was what we did before heading back to the hotel. She seemed to like her fried chicken and I surely enjoyed my dimsums, rice and shrimps.

20210614_195549.jpg

Chinese food

15.6. Tuesday

Last night weather forecast told that Vieno-storm would hit Finland at night and blow until noon. But when we woke up it was just little windy.
After hurried breakfast we took taxi to marina. First I thought that we could walk but in last night stroll we saw several signs towards marina (each which pointed different direction) so I wasn’t going to chance that it takes lot of time to find the right terminal, especially when we were already in hurry. The terminal was the one that I thought it would be but still it was nice doesn’t need to stress about the time.

Onboard we participated trivia. We came in 2nd and won chocolate but the questions were only about the ship we were on so our place was doe more luck than knowledge.
Also participated in free bingo. I have always wanted to be able to yell bingo! But will need to still wait for that, albeit I won some more chocolate from pity lottery after actual bingo.
Journey to Mariehamn from Turku took over 5 hours. Besides trivia and bingo we spend our time playing cards and Yatzy.

Bike renting places was just outside the terminal so we got our bikes right after disembarking the ship and didn’t even have to search for the place. Hotel we found after little detour. But with my sense of direction it was only expected that some wandering was to come... We had 4 kilometers from Mariehamn center to our hotel, Strandnäss Hotell was nice and the staff really friendly.

20210615_141338.jpg

On our way to the hotel

IMG-20210621-WA0019.jpg

On our way to the hotel

20210615_185207.jpg

On our way to the hotel

20210615_152716.jpg

On our way to the hotel

We didn’t linger in the room this time either but went for looking for food. Which we found and while eating decided to go searching for one of the many sightseeing spots there were along the coast. Again some detouring but weather was sunny albeit windy.
On our way back to the city we bought postcards, Mias grandma (my mother-in-law) made us promise to send her one and I always send one to my mom. We stopped to get drinks in restaurant at small-boat marina, and wrote the cards while enjoying the summer.

20210615_163610.jpg

Benches at the sightseeing spot

IMG-20210621-WA0000.jpg

Stairs

IMG-20210621-WA0016.jpg

Stairs

IMG-20210621-WA0020.jpg

Views on the way

IMG-20210621-WA0018.jpg

Trail on the woods

20210615_175722.jpg

Back at the marina

16.6. Wednesday

Weather was a bit grey but not cold this morning when we left towards Kastelholma Castle. And it was windy again. But as I said, it wasn’t cold so it just slowed as down a little we being on bikes. The views were similar than back home, fields and forests, and the coast. And sheeps and cows.
Mostly the biking path was marked well but on some of the bigger junctures I would have expected there to be signs were there wasn’t. But even with my sense of direction we were able to for the most part keep the right way. Albeit we stopped to read map A LOT. Photo stops were plenty too.
There also were actual biking paths all the way except for the last couple of kilometers which we had to bike onside of the car road.

20210616_101103.jpg

Fields

20210616_101820.jpg

St. Olaf's Church in Jomala

20210616_104301.jpg

Cows

20210616_141506.jpg

Hitchhiker

20210616_111449.jpg

On our way to Kastelholma

After biking most likely over 20 kilometers, when we arrived to the castle we went straight to have café and cake. The cake was awesome, bit too big but so good! Chocolate cake with café mousse on top. They also had very summery music playing on the speakers and meanwhile we ate our cake the sun had started to shine!

20210616_130525.jpg

Cafe

20210616_120609.jpg

My chocolate cake

The café was beside Vita Björn prison museum and Jan Karlsgården open-air museum.
Crown prison Vita Björn had been prison for 200 hundred years and when it closed in 1975 it became Finlands first public prison museum. Inside the building you could examine the changes in prisoner care trough years, starting with shackles and small spaces with many inmates to increasingly more humane conditions.

The open-air museum opened in 1930s and has real buildings from all over Åland demonstrating what the farm life was like. The name of the museum comes from Jan Karls who owned the main house. Among other things like Old dinner bell (which the matron of the farm would ring to the men working in the fields for them to know it was time to come home for dinner), stables and farmhouse there were old playhouse with staff for children to play with. Including stilts which we couldn’t resist trying. Without any good results beside laughter. No use for me for quit my job and join the circus!

20210616_115650.jpg

Sheeps

20210616_124645.jpg

Outside Museum

20210616_124915.jpg

Dinner Bell

20210616_125731.jpg

New career?

The Castle itself has builded in the end of the 14th century, first mention of Kastelholma Castle was in 1388. This Ålands only medieval fortress were first in small islet but as the land has been kept rising now only has water on two sides.
Castle has colorful history, danish admiral/pirate captain Sören Norby (County lord of Gotlands 1517-1525) took the castle by surprise in 1507, it has been Gustav Vasas (King of Sweden 1523-1560) hunting castle and it had destroyed in fires at least 3 times before it became an museum.
Inside there is changing medieval/historical interactive exhibitions, this time there were lady who was spinning wool. I tried too but wasn’t really good at it, maybe with a bit more practice.
For children there were baby ghosts hidden all around the castle which you were suppose to find.

large_20210616_115340.jpg

Kastelholma Castle

20210616_134023.jpg

Kastelholma Castle

20210616_133546.jpg

Boo!

20210616_131421.jpg

Lady who was spinning wool

IMG-20210621-WA0011.jpg

Or is this my new career?

On our way back to hotel we stopped for a drinks at Uffe på Berget, café on top of rocky hill where you had amazing views all around. You could also climb on top of sight seeing tower, which we of course did.

20210616_141440.jpg

Uffe på Berget

20210616_141850.jpg

Uffe på Berget

large_20210616_142614.jpg

View from Uffe på Berget

About 45 kilometers since this morning we were back at the hotel where we gladly took a little break before biking back to Mariehamn for dinner.

large_20210615_160215.jpg

Mariehamn city center

17.6. Thursday

We didn’t have anything specific planned but Mia had read about Åland Maritime Museum which we choose to visit today.

The museum was made in to shape of an ship and had masts, helms etc. from real boats. Also real captains quarters and souvenirs from sailors to their loved ones. Inside you could view the history of seafaring. I liked that there were real stories of real peoples and not just speculations.
Two of my favorites were Stava-Mosters Seamens Home and The English Boy.

Before 1884, seamens from ships who stopped at Mariehamn were having difficulties finding an place to stay in this young town, so Sailor Mission established Seamens Home which first matron was Stava-Moster (Aunt Stava). Stava-Moster had lost his husband and sons to the sea so she started renting three small rooms in her house. She had always coffeepot hot and its said that she confiscated the sailors money which she rationed to them as she seemed fit. She didn’t like men losing all their funds to pubs so she motherly maintain her house and the seamen who came to stay with her.

In September 1938 fourmasted-park Moshulu drawed the attention of 18-year old English boy Eric Newby in the harbor of Belfast. He stepped in to the ship where he was directed to seamens quarters where immediately put to work. He was scared to death but climbs in to the mast anyway.
18.10.1938 when Moshulu sets to sail he is already experienced climber. He has a camera with him and he is set to photograph the world as much as he can before it disappears.

IMG-20210621-WA0008.jpg

Souvenirs from sailors

As for the climbing in to the mast, it was possible to try for yourself and I made it! Well, while it was a real mast from a real ship, it was only the last 5 rungs or so. Still feeling great for being able to get up there!

20210617_104519.jpg

Perhaps I will become an sailor?

Docked just outside of the Maritime Museum were freighter Pommern which you could visit with the same ticket than museum. It is only ship in the world that has remained basically unchanged through years. Builded in 1903 in Scotland under name Mneme (re-named Pommern), made to haul timber from Scandinavia, saltpeter from Chile and wheat from Australia. Shipowner Gustav Erikson from Åland bought the ship in 1923 and it made its last gargo carrying voyage in 1938. Pommern has been an museum in Mariehamn since 1950s.

Since 17th century merchant sailing ships rivaled who could sail around the world fastest, if you were able to finish the journey under 100 days you were considered one of the fastest. Pommern did it in ninety-something days, I recall it was in 96 days maybe? I didn’t write it down because I was sure that I would be able to get the information from internet if I would forget, sadly I couldn’t and did forget. Still, the museum in whole was quite interesting.

large_IMG-20210621-WA0004.jpg

Pommern

large_IMG-20210621-WA0009.jpg

Pommern

Spending morning wandering in museum made us hungry and we hadn’t had the chance to taste famous Åland-pancakes yet so they were on agenda next. They were so good that Mia wanted second round.

20210617_130854.jpg

Bagarstugan Cafe

20210617_131814.jpg

Pancakes and soda

Clock was already well over noon when we finished with our goodies so we wouldn’t be able to get far anymore. There was one nature track close by which we went to explore, but that didn’t take long either. I was still full of energy but Mia was ready to spend rest of the day in hotel. It doesn’t cease to amaze me how much time teens today could use on their phones.

20210617_142423.jpg

On the nature trail

20210617_143625.jpg

On the nature trail

20210617_141725.jpg

On the nature trail

large_20210617_142544.jpg

On the nature trail

I had my Kindle with me but Mia said that she would be okay if I want to do some more biking. I still felt bad for leaving her alone (even when she said that she would be on our room happy using free wi-fi whole the time) so after just little exploring on the way we hadn’t gone yet, finding the tallest hill on Åland (not really but biking against wind made it feel like Everest), couple beaches and British flag fluttering on the Ålands wind (never figured out why though), I came back to the hotel been gone only little over an hour. Weather was still warm and sunny so I got Mia out of our room to the hotels patio where I read Kindle and Mia was still happily wi-fing.

We chose Nonna Rina to have our last dinner in Mariehamn in and couldn’t have chosen much better. I had pasta and Mia pizza, which both of us enjoyed immensely.

large_a5af6ca0-d40e-11eb-bb4b-4110756d03b7.jpg

Nonna Rina

18.6. Friday

Going home today so just packing our bags after breakfast and biking to marina waiting our ship to come. And it is windy again so is it safe to say that it is always winds in sunny Åland?

large_20210618_183543.jpg

Lots of sailboats seen on our way back home

Posted by hennaonthetrek 09:01 Archived in Finland Tagged #sea #sun #nature #castle #finland #åland #mariehamn #kastelholma #pommern #sighseeing Comments (12)

Above the Arctic Circle

sunny -3 °C

20.3. Saturday

7:20AM we steered our car towards Nuorgam, Finland’s northernmost village.
Before reaching there we would be sitting in the car for a long long time.
Combination of holiday (no work for an week!) and getting out of home (renovation chaos) was making me in to an very good mood!

First stop we had in Simo. There was lean-to made for Mauno Koivisto and his hunting group (Finland’s 9th president, two terms in 1982-1994), which made good stretching place and coffee stop.

large_Lean-to.jpg

Hankasalmenaho lean-to

2095e4f0-8d95-11eb-95e7-631dcef1748a.jpg

Coffee from kuksa, wooden cup

Though the road out of there were really icy and my spouse, who was driving wasn’t too pleased about that.
In the end we reached Tankavaara Gold Village for another coffee break after 220 kilometers and crossing the Arctic circle.

large_1fc5eac0-8d95-11eb-816b-a7a664146807.jpg

Crossing the Arctic Circle

The village wasn’t big but in summer there would be possible to pan gold. In winter there were cabins available for rent for people going in Urho Kekkonen’s National Park (Urho Kekkonen was our 8th president, terms 1956-1982).
First sightings of gold was in 1539 but the gold rush in Finland didn’t start until 1868. If you compare our gold rush to Klondike for example, you see that ours was significantly smaller. Our peak was 500 hundred miners while stampede to Klondike was 100 000 miners.

204fdb40-8d95-11eb-9248-4334f1ba79e9.jpg

Gold Village Cafe

large_20934ce0-8d95-11eb-afbc-fd03e746c991.jpg

Gold for sale

large_Gold.jpg

Gold for sale

Rest of the way we stopped only to do grocery shopping and finally, 13,5 hours and 910 kilometers later we were finally there! Our little holiday haven beside Teno, border river between Finland and Norway.
Temperature was only -3C and it wasn’t too late, only 9PM so we did what every finn would do, we heated up the sauna! And also tested our jacuzzi! What a bliss to be on a holiday.

large_Cabin.jpg

Cabin at night

21.4. Sunday

When we woke up and walked to the living room the view were spectacular! We had a 1,5 wall made of glass and we could see frozen River Teno and beyond that mountains on Norway. Previous night it was already dark when we arrived so we haven’t got the chance to admire the scenery fully.

Morning coffee sitting at the coach and looking through the window was in order!

large_1f97aed0-8d95-11eb-9248-4334f1ba79e9.jpg

Morning coffee with amazing view

Weather looked great so were going to go for an walk and look around. Sun was shining but the wind was quite cold. Luckily it wasn’t more than -3C. The village was 1 kilometers from the cabin but before we could reach it it started to snow a lot. We actually had an mission on this walk too. The great packer my spouse is, he forgot his quilted pants, so were going to try to find new ones for him.
We couldn’t, there were clothes, shoes and everything you would need but not the right size for Toni.

Still, the trip wasn’t all for nothing, I found some postcards, fridge magnet and sausage sticks with telescopic arms.

17b47cc0-8d95-11eb-95e7-631dcef1748a.jpg

Sausage sticks

Outside the weather was sunny again so we walked back to the cabin, left our spoils there and continued our walk towards north. As far as we could get!

At the border stone we turned around and get back to the cabin.

large_20716d00-8d95-11eb-816b-a7a664146807.jpg

We are this high up north

large_17df0f30-8d95-11eb-afbc-fd03e746c991.jpg

Walking back from the border

Before night fall there had been more snowing and sun shining, only the wind was constant. When we sat in the jacuzzi we saw dim northern lights.

But after when we got out and dressed again the sky was on fire! There were vivid green veils dancing in the sky!

Have you heard this folklore about the origin of the Northern lights?

In a one starry night this fox was going to annual Cunning Competition. He was in such a hurry that he decided to cut through Lapland mountains even when he knew that it would be strenuous. In the end when he started to tire, his tale started to sag. So great was his speed that he didn’t even notice that his tail was hitting snow whirling sparks in to the sky on his wake. Those sparks danced in the sky flaming and changing color.
Even this day, high up in the North, if the weather is right those same sparks keeps twirling in the sky and they are called Northern lights or Aurora borealis.

large_17cd5bf0-8d95-11eb-9248-4334f1ba79e9.jpg

Northern lights

22.4. Monday

This day we would head out to the wilderness.
Kaldoaivi is Finland’s largest wilderness which 2 924 km2 includes deep river valleys and gentle mountains. When I wrote this I tried to translate tunturi, which is a kind of an small mountain but translator offered me that it would be “mountain in Lapland”.

Through Kaldoaivi goes many hiking routes which variates from ones which you can walk in a day to ones that are near 100 kilometers long.
Shortest of them is 5,8 kilometers and takes an loop near Skaidjärvi (lake Skaid). I am not outdoorsy enough that I would enjoy walking days in wilderness and sleep in desert huts (which there are on the route of the longer hikes) but these shorter ones I like. Of course now is an winter so I don’t know what kind of conditions the paths are and to be honest I read that these routes are for experienced hikers so we will have to see if it is possible to walk this Skaidjärvi ring trail.

I am not sure how common this is in other countries over the world but in Finland there are these huts, almost, if not in every, town and city. Some of these you need to bring your own fire woods and in some those are provided by the town or city that attends to them.
One of them are in Skaidjärvi.

Weather was sunny today too and -6C weren’t too cold when you are on the move. We started with car which we left on the side of the road and got our rented snowshoes on. At the beginning of the trail we realized that conditions were so good that there were no need for snowshoes. We took tiny track outside of the trail and headed back to the car to leave the snowshoes there.

large_20943740-8d95-11eb-98c7-7f9c449706b5.jpg

Trying snowshoes

We proceed towards Skaidjärvi with regular shoes. There went snowmobile tracks which were great to walk in and we saw only one snowmobile which we sidestepped off from the track. He passed us with a wave of his hand and our journey continued.

large_1fdca710-8d95-11eb-9248-4334f1ba79e9.jpg

On the way to Skaidjärvi

large_20aaa570-8d95-11eb-816b-a7a664146807.jpg

On the way to Skaidjärvi

Even with the freezing wind the scenery were awesome and to me it felt no time at all when we reached the hut. Toni had some doubts that we were on the wrong trail when it looked like the trail would continue for kilometers and we didn’t see the hut. But the but was just after “Lapland mountain”.

large_1f03fa50-8d95-11eb-9248-4334f1ba79e9.jpg

The hut

The hut was quite spacious and we started to build a fire in the stove. The wind had blown a lot of snow in front of the shed so we had to dig a little to get the door to open to find the firewoods but ultimately we had fire going.

20834750-8d95-11eb-9248-4334f1ba79e9.jpg

Digging firewoods

1f45be40-8d95-11eb-9248-4334f1ba79e9.jpg

Making fire

We drank coffee while waiting for stove heating. Then roasting sausages and marshmallows for dessert.
Simultaneously the weather had changed again, which we notice to be normal in here. It was snowing so much that we couldn’t see the horizon anymore. But almost like the mother nature would know how long it would take to make sausages and be ready to leave, the snowing stopped and sun was shily peeping behind clouds.

After finding our way back to our car we decided to visit the highest point to this “Lapland mountain”, Isonkivenvaara. Our walking route should have gone by this point but somehow we missed it. My guess is that by walking in the snowmobile tracks to the hut and walking back in the trail, we just walked same way back but just little bit differently, when we should have just continue to follow the snowmobile tracks. But not being locals we didn’t know and how would you see any paths when everywhere is packed with snow.

At the top of Isonkivenvaara, whole lot of 222 meters from the sea level, is a Sitting stone where people had sat to take a break after climbing from the village.
You can also find and boat made from stone up there, called Nuorgamin menijä.

large_1c203b50-8d95-11eb-816b-a7a664146807.jpg

Stone boat with the Sitting stone on the backround

Back at the cabin we took a day dip to the jacuzzi and spent relaxing evening playing cards, drinking beer, sauna and some more jacuzzi.

23.4. Tuesday

Last day.
For some reason, maybe the few beers yesterday or the placing of the moon, who knows, both of us felt little bit lazy next morning and around noon it started to snow again so most of the day was spent inside.

But I was going little bit stir-crazy so immediately when the weather improved I went for an walk. We had seen a start of another walking trail on our way to Skaidjärvi yesterday so I head towards it. I knew that there would some climbing, the road was steep, but I thought that if I would be spent after the rise I would just go back but when I reached the start of the trail I was good to go on. The track was made for skiers and there were suppose to be another hut or lean-to which I tried to find.

large_1d449710-8d95-11eb-9248-4334f1ba79e9.jpg

Steep slope

There were only one skier track which I followed. There weren’t anyone to be seen and I enjoyed the feel of being alone.

large_1d29e320-8d95-11eb-afbc-fd03e746c991.jpg

Fielbmajärvi 3 kilometers

large_1d4a8a80-8d95-11eb-98c7-7f9c449706b5.jpg

Enjoying my own time

large_1f195710-8d95-11eb-816b-a7a664146807.jpg

On my own on Lapland mountain

In the end I didn’t find the lean-to nor the frozen Fielbmajärvi before I had to turn around. In here the snowshoes would be great but for being non-local, I didn’t know that. I had had couple of sinks earlier but not deeper than ankle but when I sank almost knee-deep in snow I knew it would be best to give up when my shoes were still dry. So I headed my own tracks back to the road, down the hill and back to the cabin, straight in to the jacuzzi!

large_1d283570-8d95-11eb-816b-a7a664146807.jpg

Jacuzzi

24.4. Wednesday

This morning we started driving south at 7.30AM but we wouldn’t be going home just yet! Even if our cabin was perfect and I would have enjoyed spending more time there, we would spend next night at hotel at Pudasjärvi, little bit closer home.

We wouldn’t be driving straight there either.
I have been wanting to visit Siida Sami Museum at Inari and now when we would be driving by anyway we would stop there.

We could have slept little bit later though, we were waiting for the opening thirty minutes too early!

There are always floating exhibitions and this time one of them were called Albma Olbmot or Real People which consisted of photos of Sami people today.

1b7925e0-8d95-11eb-afbc-fd03e746c991.jpg

One of my favorite photos of Albma Olbmot

1b29f470-8d95-11eb-afbc-fd03e746c991.jpg

One of my favorite photos of Albma Olbmot

17d1a1b0-8d95-11eb-816b-a7a664146807.jpg

One of my favorite photos of Albma Olbmot

Sami are indigenous people of Finland who live in north of Finland, Norway and Sweden and in Kola peninsula.
First people immigrate to the northern Scandinavia between 10 000-6 500 BC from areas which became Norway, Sweden and Russia. These groups formed the basis of our population and culture.

The firsts Scandinavians believed in nature spirits and sacrificed always part of their catch in these places of seita. Seita could be specific rock or natural formation which were hallowed to certain spirits. Like spirits of weather, fish or reindeer. If you know where to look, you could find these Seitas all over Lapland.

large_1bdffe00-8d95-11eb-afbc-fd03e746c991.jpg

Witch drum

large_17b51900-8d95-11eb-98c7-7f9c449706b5.jpg

Hat of four winds

Source of livelihood for Sami people came naturally from nature, in form of fishing and later reindeer herding. Now the practice has come to be an cultural cornerstone in northern Finland.

In Sodankylä, is statue of reindeer and Laplander, Poro ja Lappalainen, which is made in 1970 to honor the huge amount of work that had gone in
to the reindeer herding industry for it to be the way it is today.

1e284050-8d95-11eb-98c7-7f9c449706b5.jpg

Statue of Poro ja Lappalainen in Sodankylä

Near the statue is one of the Finland’s oldest church. Build in 1689 to serve the people of Middle Lapland. Albeit we couldn’t go inside it made nice walk in the middle of all the sitting in the car.

237b0380-8d95-11eb-bee8-f5758517b7c2.jpg

Sodankylä old church

Still one more stop before the hotel. It was to be made because of chocolate! In Ranua, just before the entrance to the zoo are MurMur Castle where they sell Fazer chocolate. I was able to spend unbelievable amount of money for such short visit but it was all worth it!

1ac9fa20-8d95-11eb-afbc-fd03e746c991.jpg

Mur Mur Castle

Then it was only 1,5 hour drive to Hotel Iso-Syöte.

Of course doe to corona the restaurant was closed but you would be able to order food to eat in your room.
Unlike the restaurant the pool and sauna was open and situated just outside our room, so first little dip before food.

large_Pool.jpg


Pool

25.3. Thursday

After breakfast, also ate in our room, we took a little walk around the hotel. Hotel was situated at the top of the Iso-Syöte mountain so the views were great but the photos didn’t come up so. We looked the ski slopes and headed towards home at 10.20AM.

Breakfast.jpg

Take-Away Breakfast

large_1a449d80-8d95-11eb-afbc-fd03e746c991.jpg

View from our hotel room

Our one stop tactic didn’t quite work, we took a little detour in the city of Raahe, where we suppose to stop to have some coffee but the café was closed. Another stop for stretching our legs and we drove to another café where the owner was super nice older guy. I am sure that if it would be possible to sit inside and drink our coffee we would have nice chat with him but that wasn’t possible so we headed out to have our lunch.

Then it wasn’t but a quick drive (<200km) and we were home. Clock was 3.40PM, our car odometer have 1915 kilometers more and I had a nice surprise to find postcards from abroad waiting for me!

Posted by hennaonthetrek 17:56 Archived in Finland Tagged #winter #north #finland #lapland #reindeer #jacuzzi #northernlights Comments (14)

Shhh, don't wake the forest

overcast 3 °C

large_270_20201114_113552.jpg

Welcome to the village of Särkynyt Silppuri

Let me tell you a little story. And for you to fully understand it I need to say two things first, I am working completely alone outside of the office hours and, I use to love to watch horror movies. By love I mean that Halloweens, Screams, Elm Streets and Ring use to be my favorite movies. The more frights I got watching, the better.

That said, this happened couple of years ago. I was at work, shifting gas bottles, the big ones which are taller than me. It was dark and I saw something in the corner of my eyes. Naturally, I jumped ten feet in to the air while turning my head to see better. There it was, standing perfectly still, exactly where I had left it mere minutes ago, one of the gas bottles. This was when I realized that with my vivid imagination it would be better if I stopped watching scary movies. I had given my self several frights during the years but being scared to death by immobile object which I should have known being there was the tip of the iceberg so to speak. Bye bye horror.

This incident of mine came in to conversation one day not so far ago when speaking of movies and one co-worker asked if I had visited the ghost village in Alavieska. Which I haven’t. Of course I got intrigued by it.

large_20201114_113425.jpg

20201114_114134.jpg

270_20201114_121601.jpg

The village is built in the middle of the forest and is completely uninhabited. Former farmer made it in span of three decades. He had to stop working at the farm so he started to fill his time with constructing buildings at the piece of family owned land.
He wanted to keep the forest mostly untouched so he brought the woods out side of the village. You just got to admire the work and effort he put in making this ghost town. There is church with working organ, café, several places to roast something over fire and almost all of the buildings have its own fireplace, they are probably still in working order. And of course in Finnish fashion there is sauna.

large_20201114_115328.jpg

large_270_20201114_122011.jpg

The old farmers poems are laminated and placed around the village

Defying my somewhat skittish nature I braved in to the ghost village. And even tried to amplify the mood by playing horror movie theme songs but my companion said that it wasn’t working, Halloween went already (John Carpenters/ Halloween) and it wasn’t likely to get attacked by a shark in the Finnish woods (Jaws). But the grey weather was appropriate.

large_20201114_121306.jpg

The church and the graveyard

large_20201114_121443.jpg

Allegedly working organ

We set to explore our surroundings. The village was bigger and smaller than I expected it to be. There was more buildings but they were smaller. One thing was just what I thought, the surroundings were eerily quiet. And there the horror ended I am afraid. My spouse who was with me said that the most terrifying thing was the lack of spiders and ants which usually are galore in the woods. That we can explain with up coming winter though.

20201114_115511.jpg270_20201114_114900.jpg

Phantom of the Opera // Even I had to bend to get in to this building and I am short.

large_270_20201114_121759.jpg

Oh no, they put Piglets in the doghouse!

With the dry ice I brought with me I tried to get fog in to the photos. I quicky discovered that it was too windy for that. I would have needed to put a mountain of dry ice to get fog thick enough to be seen in the pictures. And then there would be white mountain visible in the photo and that looks just cold, not spooky so I opted to do without the special effects. Which was fun too.

270_20201114_113934.jpg

Can you see the fog?

If it would situated a bit closer I would be sorely tempted to visit it at night. Just with my flash light..

270_20201114_114334.jpg

270_20201114_120131.jpg

270_20201114_115608.jpg

Posted by hennaonthetrek 10:37 Archived in Finland Tagged ghosttown finland forest deserted grey eerily cabininthewoods Comments (10)

Sauna and some sightseeing in our Capital

overcast 7 °C

To your convenience I have translated few words for you which I am going to use in this one.

Sauna = Is warm room where we finns go to relax either alone or in good company.

Kiuas = Heater in sauna. Warmed either by wood or electricity

Löyly = Direct translation of löyly is steam but in this context is not entirely correct. Much like sauna it is unique word to our language and it means the water you throw at kiuas, yes, the end result is steam but if you hear in sauna a sentence “Heitä lisää löylyä” (=Throw more löylys), it means exactly that. That you should throw more water in the kiuas.

This one night trip to our capital came out of necessity this time. It’s kind of funny, I haven’t been Helsinki in years, last time was to visit Linnanmäki when I was an kid, if you don’t count “went-thru’s” and this year this is already second time I visit.

Toni, my boyfriend had these chairs he had to take to auctionhouse and as we happen to be on our summer holiday from work we thought that we could stay the night and do some exploring.

In 2015 one of Finland’s most famous actors Jasper Pääkkönen get involved in project which resulted one of our many public saunas called Löyly.
We head there tonight. I haven’t been in the public sauna before this. Yes, I have been in sauna in swimming halls and spas but it isn’t the same than public sauna. I know that Finnish sauna culture might be little bit bizarre for foreigners but bare with us, we are normally shy and modest people but of our saunas we are proud!

And even if the experience is not the same than in own sauna, in Löyly the kiukaat were warmed with real wood and this is important in real sauna. You can get electric kiuas warm but it’s not the same than warming it by wood. The smell and the heat is far better with wood.
Hmm, I might have started to ramble a bit there..Back to the topic, Löyly. In their websites they recommend to reserve a shift because in the saunas fit only 40 people in total. But we felt bold and went in without reservation, and got lucky because we didn’t even need to wait to get in.

There were separate locker rooms and showers for men and women, saunas and lounge were common and you need to wear swimming suits in there. In total there were 3 saunas but one were private which you need to make separate reservation. One smoke sauna and “normal sauna” were open to everyone. I liked that the “normal” sauna was better than the smoke sauna. Smoke sauna was very dimly lighted so when you came from outside in you wouldn’t even see if there is someone already sitting there or not. Quite atmospheric really but some light would be nice too, it would be awkward to sit on a lap of complete stranger, lol.

The “normal” sauna was good for me, but I observed that some of the people who were taller than me, ahem, okay almost all of the others, I am quite short, had some issues with the height of the ceiling. Many actually hit their head while getting out.

However, my favorite part of the sauna was the lounge area, they had big fireplace in the middle of the room with class windows all around so you were able to see the flames no-matter where you sit. You were able to get drinks from the reception and we spent quite a lot of our 2 hours sitting in front of the fireplace.

Most of the other customers were foreigners so it was amusing to watch they experiencing Finnish sauna perhaps for the first time.
Out side there were big terrace where you could go to cool off between löylys or even dip in the sea. And it is open in the winter too. I have to admit that I were an wimp. I didn’t go for an swim. Usually I am the first one in the water, even if it’s cold, it’s one of the best feelings there is to go from the cold water to warm sauna. But the terrace floor was so cold that I was already freezing without even dipping my toe in the water…Okay, excuses, excuses. But it was cold! Many of the foreigners risked the cold water for an swim though.

In side were there were the common showers were also this ominous looking bucket hanging in the ceiling. I didn’t dare to pull the rope my self but I watched when couple of guys did. The bucket was filled with ice cold water so obviously I watched this within a safe distance. This, the bucket is not typical in sauna but it was nice addition in my opinion. Amusing for the spectators for sure!

Sorry to say that I don’t have any photos from the sauna, I didn’t feel comfortable to take photos when others tried to relax..

Following day we had time to visit couple of churches. The first one was Temppeliaukio’s Church also called the Rock church. In 60’s brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen won a architect competition on their plan to make a church in the ground. Inside the rock to be more precise.
The dome is veiled in copper tape which were needed 22 kilometres of. Reredos is rock fissure from the ice age.
Instead of bells this church plays Taneli Kuusisto’s chime melody from the speakers which has been imbedded in the outside walls.

20191002_124112.jpg

Reredos in Temppeliaukio's Church

20191002_124222.jpg

Candles in Temppeliaukio's Church

Helsinki Cathedral was on our agenda next. It might be the most famous sight in Helsinki, or atleast it is one of them! It’s huge!
Officially it’s been in use since 1852 but they started building it in 1830.

20191002_130836.jpg
Helsinki Cathedral

20191002_131238.jpg

Organs in Helsinki Cathedral

20191002_131342.jpg

Chandelier and pulpit

Suomenlinna and Parliament House were left for our next visit.

20191002_133658.jpg

The 4 most famous man in Finland

Posted by hennaonthetrek 23:06 Archived in Finland Tagged helsinki helsinkicathedral löyly temppeliaukioschurch Comments (15)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 7) Page [1] 2 » Next