Let’s face it. Visiting Finland and not going to a sauna is the same as visiting London and not going to a pub. Or going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel tower. It just doesn’t really count. Now I know many of you have severe reservations about the Finnish sauna culture. Do I have to be naked among a whole lot of strangers? Will I faint? And ultimately, will I survive? This is a short survival guide for you all since sauna in Finland is definitely something you cannot miss. Sauna is an essential part of our culture and heritage. It is a place where several high-end political negotiations have been held and where families spend time together. It has a special role in our bridal showers and bachelor parties and ultimately it brings people together, relaxes them and makes us happier. In a country of 5,5 million inhabitants we have…Continue Reading
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These are exciting times we are living at the moment. It’s like watching the kettle to boil. We are waiting for raisins to float. It’s mead time of the year since May Day is just around the corner. Preparations are thus underway. First of May, ‘vappu’ as we call it in Finnish, is a big celebration in Finland. Originally a workers’ day, it is now celebrated by everyone but is especially important to students. And to kids, who love all the stuff that goes with it such as balloons, funny hats, masks and prank goodies. All in all it’s a very happy day. It is often celebrated by gathering in public parks for picnics or with a fancy lunch. We are celebrating vappu by having some friends over for a bbq. And in addition to sparkling wine, mead (‘sima’) is a must. Finnish mead is not made of honey and water…Continue Reading
Planning a trip to Finland but not sure which month would be best? Well here’s a little piece of information: there is something to see and do every month of the year, some just might require a bit more courage and adventurousness than others. Therefore I wanted to put together a brief and compact introduction as to what each month has to offer and what you should prepare for. So go ahead and take your pick. January January is the heart of the nordic winter. It is generally speaking the coldest month with relatively short days as in the south the sun rises at about 10 in the morning and sets at around three o’clock in the afternoon. Lapland of course still has the polar night with even less sunlight. But winter means winter activities. It is an excellent month to try popular or less familiar forms of outdoor sports.…Continue Reading
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In order to understand Finnish mentality, you need to bear in mind that the Finnish winter tends to be rather dark and long. In December we only get a couple of hours of sunlight in the south, none in the north. In February and March something significant happens: the day slowly begins to be a little bit longer and occasionally we get incredibly gorgeous, sunny winter days. Along with the sun, out come the Finns. The sun makes us look at people’s faces instead of our toes, it makes us storm out from our homes and it fills all outdoor recreational ares, outdoor cafes, walkways, paths and even the sea: both in water and on ice, with people. A bathrobe is an entirely appropriate and acceptable piece of clothing in the busiest seaside area of Espoo, next to a popular cafe. Sunny days can even make us stress. Especially if…Continue Reading
We have a good variety of different means of transport in Finland. Instead of your ordinary microcar, scooter or moped you can also pick a kicksled, roller skis or a reindeer, depending on the weather. Or you can do what we did and hop on a sled pulled by huskies. A Family of 100 104 dogs, each one an individual. Some are younger and others older, some of them are friends and others have a bit less chemistry. But they are all eager. Together they consume about a hundred kilos of food a day. They are Alaskan huskies, Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes. Obviously their owner Päivi knows each and every dog by name. You should know all your family members, even if there were over a hundred of them. Christmas Morning We got to meet Päivi’s dogs on Christmas morning at Polar Lights Tours in Levi, Lapland. She also…Continue Reading
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Who would have guessed? Finns are the biggest coffee drinkers in the world. When you look at the consumption of coffee per capita, there we are. Right at the top of the list. It’s not like our country is situated even remotely close to an area where it would be possible to grow coffee beans. But still, we consume about 12 kilos of coffee a year, per capita. Now that’s a lot. You know what else? A legal coffee break is also officially included in the collective labour agreements of several trades in Finland. Not a tea break or just a break, but a coffee break. Personally I have breached this section of the agreement since I’ve consumed tea rather than coffee on several occasions on my coffee breaks, but don’t tell anyone. One of my favourite places and times to have coffee is outdoors in the winter. Or autumn. Just…Continue Reading
One of the coolest (at the moment also literally as the temperature hit -40 degrees in some parts of the country last night) things we have in Finland is our nature. Almost 80 per cent of our land is forest. No wonder we get lots of tourists from around the world come and enjoy the fresh air and serenity. And if you really want to experience winter wonderland, you should head to Lapland. We spent Christmas in Levi, one of the bigger towns in Finnish Lapland (still quite small). Christmas is a magical time up north with the snow, aurora borealis and polar night. And what better way of exploring the gorgeous nature than on a horse. We went on a morning ride with Polar Lights Tours. With the polar night, we were off to the woods at nine in the morning in bright moonlight. Our trusted means of transportation were our…Continue Reading
It is New Year’s Eve again. But this time for us Finns it’s not just any turn of the year: we are entering the year our country will have been independent for 100 years and instead of partying for one night, we will be celebrating all year long. A brilliant way to welcome 2017 is to explore our great outdoors and, if you’re lucky, spot some gorgeous northern lights. Another option is to head to downtown Helsinki and take part in the massive celebrations organised at Kansalaistori square right next to the Helsinki Music Centre. Be prepared to dance on the streets! (Now that’s Finns getting wild, I’m telling you!). 2016 for me has been unforgettable. I will always remember it as the year I became a mother, spent the entire year out of office, bought a cosy and welcoming house and got to spend a beautiful Christmas in Lapland. But I…Continue Reading
This is the 99th time that the date 6. December has been significant in Finland. Since 1917 it has marked the freedom of this country. For me Independence day has always been one of my favourite public holidays, right after Christmas. There’s something in the atmosphere of the day that makes it so special. It’s serene but joyful, patriotic but easy-going, family-oriented but social. J and I got engaged on 6. December 2007 since we both like the day so much. The day in general includes visits to the cemetery to commemorate those who lost their lives in the war. Our nation is so tiny that pretty much all of us have relatives who have fought or served in some other way in the two wars between 1939 and 1945. We have military parades, speeches and medals awarded by the president. We have our blue and white flags flying in all…Continue Reading
I know I said I would provide you with snapshots and impressions to celebrate Finland. However, I truly believe honesty is the best policy. Therefore, before making a decision on whether to book your ticket to this northern country, you should know what to prepare for. Insomnia in the summer If you decide to travel to Finland in the summer (June-July-August) you should at least pack a sleeping mask as it does not get dark and many tourists suffer from great sleeping difficulties. The sun is up until midnight (if you go to Lapland it doesn’t set at all so it’s daylight 24/7). Can you imagine how active you need to be since you have all this daylight at your disposal? Are you sure you’re up to the challenge? Also, beware that summer nights can be quite romantic. Darkness in the winter Of course, opposite to summer, winter is dark.…Continue Reading