"bLog means boring-Log"
day 17 in scandinavia, finland (0 comments)
is our last day in scandinavia (well, technically not really the last day, as our flight is tomorrow - but it is so early, it does not really count as a day).
before we checked out and left the hotel i stepped out on the terrace and saw the cat from yesterday again, it was hunting a mouse in a wood pile. and it was successful - the mouse ended up dead; poor rodent. generally, it seemed to me there are a lot of mice here in finland. they seem to like it here a lot; except when there is a cat around.
then we drove to the next hotel to check in our luggage. next step was to fill the fuel tank of the car, clean the car, and return it. this meant we had no car any more. and also no radio. which actually was a good thing though, because radio here means there are about five well known bands like michael jackson, madonna, elton john, or bryan adams, and each day there is a different song from each band. this applies to all radio stations, although they all seem to be well coordinated, as they at least all play different songs. so you get a good load of songs from each one of them over the day; and only from them. well, as an interlude you get the one new song from coldplay. but then again, only this one song.
so in short, radio here is horror - bring your own music device or suffer.
once the car was returned, we took the same coaches as on day three again to get to helsinki city[01-40]. this time the vanha kauppahalli[05-06], the old market hall, was opened; and so we walked in. lots of cafes, bistros and little food shops inside, everything looked delicious, lovely arranged and nicely decorated.
then we ambled along the harbour area[02-32].
a lot of people were going for a walk, having picnics in large groups, sitting and drinking, or just having fun with activities like bungee jumping, at the kaivopuisto park[15-32], aka brunnsparken.
of course also the ubiquitous waterfowl was around. there were a lot of geese[21-31], right in the middle of the town, surrounded by people, but they did not seem to mind too much. instead they were grazing the greens of the park.
then we went to a moomin shop, but unfortunately it had no (black) t-shirts for men, only kids and women. too bad, i so much wanted to buy a moomin shirt. well, maybe i will find one online one day...
after a little more hanging out in various shops and malls we called it a day, and drove back to the hotel.
so we were back again at the holiday inn at helsinki airport, where we already had stayed for the third night when flying to ivalo. the aeroplane will leave at 08:30 o'clock tomorrow morning, so this means we have to get to the airport early.
on this last day it was warm and sunny with highs around 23°C.
and here is some stuff for the statistics department:
* kilometres driven with (private) rental car: 6074km
* 1870 pictures made it to the galleries,
track for day 17
, or single track
map for the entire trip (unfortunately maps.google only allows to add a maximum of ten tracks per map).
day 16 in scandinavia, finland (0 comments)
we wanted to start the day with more birdwatching. so we tried to find birdwatching places at lake simpelejärvi. but we failed to find any street signs or any other hints on where to go exactly. after a while of driving, nina was in need of a bathroom, and i was in need of coffee. so we stopped at a parking area where there was a little snack stand that we hoped could gratify both our urges. and it could. we asked the staff there if she knows how to get to the ornithological sites, but she did not know either. instead she said there is a nice park here, that we might have a look.
since she was not very enthusiastic about it, we were not really convinced it is a site worth visiting, but we gave it a try anyway.
what we found was a wonderful well hidden attraction, both our guidebooks did not know about, and there was only a small sign pointing to the entrance hidden in a wood right next to a parking area along route 6, and only about 600 metres away from the russian border. if the girl would not have mentioned it, we would have not noticed it.
and so we entered the sculpture garden[001-117] of veijo rönkkönen in koitsanlahti, parikkala, starting at the yoga park[001-018], that consists of 250 figures in various yoga positions. although we both have some yoga experience, we did not know that there were that many positions.
turns out the sculptures were all made by one person, namely veijo rönkkönen, who worked on this park for nearly 50 years, resulting in about 550 concrete statues. the reason for doing this was to communicate with the outside world, as he was very guarded and even more reclusive. instead of going out into the world, he invited the world to visit his garden. at least that is what the information brochure said.
the sculptures, overgrown by moss and partially strongly weathered mostly reminded me more of zombies than normal people. again according to the brochure the artist did not think the park would survive after his death. he wanted it to be buried like the chinese terracotta army.
eventually someone did care and is now maintaining the park, but leaving the natural touch to the sculptures. the entry was free, but there was a voluntary donations box, which we fed willingly.
besides all the zombies there was also lots of explicit nudity and eroticism - it all felt like a huge PEGI 18 theme park.
but most of the sculptures were just scary ones. all these strange creatures mixed with the overgrown garden and its narrow paths really left a special impression on the both of us. fascinating and creepy at the same time. and the huge amount of statues was also very remarkable.
three years before the artist died in 2010, he received an award from the ministry of culture for his achievements in art.
besides huge plants, alien plants and creatures, a dinosaur, and fantasy creatures, he also sculptured lots of animals[019,022,030,050,055,061,065-066,075-076,080-081,084-086,093,099-100]. i especially liked the three cats[075-076] holding hands with each other and the punk girl (or it least i thought it was one).
but still, most of them reminded me of zombies and creatures from horror movies. there were kids at the park too, but they did not seem to mind the resemblance to the undead.
on the circle loop trail we ended at the yoga sculptures[102-117] once again on our way out. still impressive and a reminder that we could do more yoga back home again. well, we will see about that...
we got into the car again, to drive the rest of the 400 kilometre distance we had planned to cover today. somewhere near our destination porvoo i saw another car with the license plate "LMR-278" while ours was "LMR-287" - what a coincidence.
after checking in at the accommodation, which is a bit outside of porvoo, we hopped in the car again to drive to the old town of porvoo[118-194]. it was already around 20:00 o'clock, and we had learned our lessons so far what this means to the variety of places to get food. so we parked the car, and went to a sushi restaurant that looked good to us, just to make sure we get some food. but it turns out this place would have been opened for another few hours anyway. however, the sushi was excellent.
porvoo turns out to be a lovely little city, with many small houses, with small shops [119-128,143,169-172,175,187-188,189,192] in them. of course and unfortunately they all were already closed. but a little window shopping was still possible.
then we came to porvoonjoki river with oxblood coloured houses[146-147,151,153-156] all along waterside promenade. the promenade is decorated in many ways, like knitwear on railings, or flower beds.
it already got dark, so we were on our way back to the car, when we came by porvoon tuomiokirkko, the porvoo cathedral[177-186] of the evangelical lutheran church, which was built in the 15th century. of course also closed.
when we arrived back at our accommodation, the villa anttila, only two rooms where booked; one was ours - so the entire villa almost just to ourselves. there would have been a really wonderful big garden, and a swimming pool on the terrace that was accessible right from our room, but by now it was already too late and too dark for any of these.
oh, and there was a cat sneaking around.
today it was cloudy, with highest temperatures of 16°C. tomorrow will be our last day in finland. too sad, we would not mind a few more days; there would have been so much to see here, but only so little time...
track for day 16
day 15 in scandinavia, finland (0 comments)
the both of us did not feel so good. we were still very tired, most likely a delayed effect from the bear night. so we packed our stuff, checked out, and drove to savonlinna. also we had to reel off some more kilometres to get on further southwards. after about six hours and 500 kilometres later we arrived at the hotel, checked in, and took a little nap to get some extra rest.
this little break helped, we felt better again. and so we got up, jumped into the car, and drove to the nearby kerimäen kirrko in kerimäki[03-12], the largest wooden church in the world. it has 3000 seats, and can hold up to 5000 people at a time. unfortunately it was just closed as we arrived - we saw people leave the church, but when we got to the gates, they were already closed. too bad, we missed it by only a few minutes. so no look inside, instead, we circled also this church, like so many before that were closed.
then we drove to the punkaharju ridge[13-26], an esker ridge that was formed at the end of the ice age as the glaciers in this region withdrew towards the bothnian sea and left stratified sand and gravel behind, forming an meandering mound. this 10.000 year old landscape formation became a bridge right between the two huge lakes, lake puruvesi in the north and lake pihlajavesi in the south, that was used by animals and humans alike.
punkaharju esker nature reserve is said to be one of the world's oldest reserves.
the pines along the road are among the largest ones in finland, and there is even an entire area where the forest was left to its own since the beginning of the 19th century. there are two hiking trails around and through this spot, but it was already getting late and dark, so sadly we could not do this hike.
soon the sun was gone, so we drove back to savonlinna[29-31], went to the harbour and had delicious fish and chips for me, and deep fried sprats for nina - nomnomnom.
while doing our after-dinner walk we came by the olavinlinna castle [32-37], which was beautifully lit. it felt like being in scotland, except that here the bridge to the entrance was closed.
then it was time to get back to the hotel, the best western spahotel casino - yes, that really was the official name of the hotel, to finish this sunny day, with temperatures around 25°C.
track for day 15
day 14 in scandinavia, finland (0 comments)
at around 07:00 o'clock we were fetched by michael, after we had spent the night in the bear hide of the martinselkosen wildlife centre in pirtivara. he asked what bears we had spotted, and we described them to him, and he in return gave us a little background information and history on some of the bears.
for one, there was gandalf, a little gray cub. then there was tapeworm bear, but there was no need to elaborate on that further. another one was asthma bear, a really really very big bear who was breathing very loud, it sounded like he had asthma. over the years they had several bets on him how long he will still make it, but everytime they lost, because he is still alive and pretty active. and there was also tourette bear, who had a hip problem, that forced him to walk with legs more spread than usual. but walking like this in bear body language means to show off in an aggressive way. thus this particular bear ends up being attacked all the time, while he just tries to stay mobile. poor misunderstood him, we felt so sorry for him.
when we had returned back to the headquarters we decided to stay for a breakfast. the swiss couple that had spent the night in the hide next to us looked as tired and exhausted as we did. everyone seemed pretty knackered so there was not much talking, everyone was busy with their coffees and breakfast.
this was an awesome experience, with so many bears so close in their natural environment, roaming free as they like. of course we were aware the bears are used to humans, and in a sense "trained" to find the treats lain out by michael and janni at the hide spots, but they do so when and how they want. they also were not bothered by the shutter sounds of the cameras or the sounds and smells by us at all. so it definitely was not their first time to do that.
but this bear hide night is definitely something we recommend. being so close to the bears is thrilling, amazing, and a tremendous and marvelous experience we would not want to miss anymore.
after breakfast and saying farewell we drove to vuonislahta at lake pielinen. there we checked in at the hotel pielinen. we had a shower, which felt so very good; after hours of sweating and sleeping in the hide this was a necessary thing.
although physically we were very tired, mentally we were wide awake - we could not sleep. also to retain our sleep-wake-cycle, we tried to stay awake at least until 20:00 o'clock. thus we decided to go to the lake[09-10], borrow the hotels boat that guests can use and row[11-19] around a little.
they even gave us life jackets at the reception, which we brought with us to the boat, but then did not put them on. it was too hot for that anyway.
the lake was very quiet, and besides another couple in a boat we were the only ones on or in the water. the obligatory waterfowl was there as well as the biting midges. surprisingly, the latter kept to an acceptable extent.
soon we gave up and went to our room to finally get some good sleep and recover.
the temperature was around 25°C on this mild day full of sunshine and little activity.
track for day 14
day 13 in scandinavia, finland (0 comments)
we woke, up put our stuff into the car and drove to the restaurant for checking out. there was a family there sitting out on the veranda, it seemed they were taking a hike today. we got inside and had a little breakfast consisting of muffins and coffee. then we had a little chat with the owner of this entire complex, and he told us he had built every single building here by himself, over many many years. now that was impressive, because the cottage we stayed in really looked like it was built by carpenters. and he told us he was far from finished, so there will be more new buildings over the next few years. incredible guy, respect.
then it was time to get to our bear watching experience at the martinselkosen
wildlife centre in pirtivara.
we arrived there at 15:30 o'clock and were greeted by michael, a friendly guy from lower styria. we still had to wait a little for another couple to arrive who would join us tonight. but besides the swiss couple, it was just us. how exciting.
as soon as the group was complete, we got in a big atv and were driven to a nearby parking lot. there was another car, and dogs were barking in the distance. michael told us, most likely it is russians (the border is only 500 metres away) who are training their dogs for the bear hunt, as hunting season will start soon - poor bears. michael called at the office to inform border patrol, so they can handle this situation.
then we walked about 1.5 kilometres to the forest hides. michael asked beforehand if it was okay for us to pick one of them too, as we previously were going for the swamp hide. with us being at the forest hide too, it would all be easier for the staff to coordinate this experience, from carrying lunch packages to picking us up. also michael recommended the forest hide to us after a little discussion with what we wanted, and what gear we had, with focus on focal length, camera model, and lens speed especially. so we agreed, as all we wanted was to spot bears, no matter in which hide. and if it makes life easier for the guys, we had no problem with choosing the forest hide.
soon we came by the big main hide (which was for around 20 people and looked quite luxurious), where about 15 bears were scattered around and cute fluffy little bear cubs were climbing and hanging on trees, and playing around. the rest of the bears was just watching in curiosity. silently we walked on, avoiding eye contact - those were our instructions from the staff to stay out of trouble. at the forest hide there were three hides; the swiss couple picked the left one, we picked the middle one. inside it was like a finish sauna. we were ordered to keep the door locked and stay quiet at all times. once locked in, michael and janni, the other staff guy, left, the first bear appeared.
then came all kinds of bears[007-320]. old bears, big bears, even bigger bears, and even bigger big bears. it was like each time a new bear shows up, it is way more massive and bigger than the previous one.
and the bears were seeking the snacks michael and janni had hidden in front of our hides, so the bears would come close and stay near the hides. once a treat was found, it was eaten right away, with lots of noises and even more pleasure - a lot of smacking and drooling.
by now we were very glad to have not chosen the swamp hide, because when walking to the forest hide we saw the swamp hide, and it was in direct sunlight all day and night long. so inside the swamp hide it must have been even hotter than in the forest hide - and in our hide it was already close to unbearable (uhm, no pun actually). within the first ten minutes of staying in the small hide i was already totally soaked in sweat. after a few hours we noticed the swiss couple was opening their door when no bears were in sight, so we tried the same. we got a slight cooling breeze, and it was soooo good. fresh air and a little cool down, we were so happy we did not even mind the mosquitoes that came along with each draught. the doors from both hides were closed, as soon as a bear approached the area.
inside the hides there was not much space. there was a very narrow and small dry toilet, a bench that was convertible to a bedding surface, two sleeping bags, and a small chair. then there were the openings in the walls, each with shutters and a net to hide the cameras and photographers from the bears (although i think it is more likely bears will smell you anyway), and bean bags to position the camera on top of it. there would have been openings for tripod plates too, but we did not use them, as we were more flexible with the bags.
soon all my memory cards - that is a 16GB, and two 2GB cards - were full, and i wanted to copy them to my laptop so i could erase them from the card to continue shooting, when i noticed i forgot my card reader in the car. thanks brain, and thanks canon for only allowing compact flash cards in my camera model; if i only could use sd cards, i could easily copy them with the built-in card reader from my laptop.
so i hooked up the camera with an usb cable hoping i could mount it as a mass storage device, but to no avail. i was so desperate i even booted into my windows partition which i keep for gaming stuff, and hoped i could copy the stuff there via usb - and thankfully it worked. so i was copying the files from camera to my windows partition, then booting to linux again to move the files to linux, to have enough space on my windows partition for an eventual second round of moving pictures. puh, lucky me. i was really relieved this had worked.
at some point a mother bear with two bear cubs appeared on the glade. all three of them very careful and cautious to avoid the many big male bears that were already around. the cubs were very cute and fluffy, most likely the ones we saw in the afternoon when walking from the car to the forest hide. they were also enjoying the snacks for a while, when suddenly all three of them got on their hind legs, and then ran away. as we assumed, a big bear was coming nearer. later we saw the bear family again, and again after a while they fled the scene after mama bear got on her hind legs. pretty impressive to see how large and enormous the bear really was, once it was standing tall.
after several hours of watching bears, i came to the conclusion that bears are like cats: they are cute, look pretty cuddly, and all they do is eat, lie around, and occasionally get up to make mischief. only they are much bigger than cats, and probably more dangerous. i was quite glad the thin walls of press board were between us.
although if a bear really would have wanted to examine our lunch packs, it would have been no obstacle for them. but the staff had already thought of that and put all the food in sealed plastic containers. they also added a thermos flask full of coffee. still we thought it was more safe to have our snacks only when no bears were around. this way we also would not miss any bear action.
the bears were active and around until approximately 00:30 o'clock, then they all disappeared. after waiting for a while and no bears showing up, we went to sleep, to get a little rest. since it was so hot and tight in the hide it was not very restful, but at some point we must have dozed off.
at around 04:30 o'clock i was woken up by the noise of a bear climbing a tree[312-320] to get some treats hidden in the trunk, but this one also left as soon as he got all the treats collected. so we went back to my plank bed too, but woke up at around 06:00 o'clock again. then there were no more bears until 07:00 o'clock; too bad. that was when michael picked us up, and drove us back to the headquarters.
all in all i shot over 1200 pictures this day, resulting in 32GB of data (i had to copy via windows a second time this night). i skimmed the pictures several times, sorting out the blurry ones, then reducing the double ones, so finally around 320 made it to the gallery. there were many more pictures that would have been usable for the gallery but i really tried to reduce them to the ones i really liked the most.
so this was our stay at the "forest hide" accommodation in pirtivara, with a way too hot day at 32°C and no clouds. yet, it was an awesome and unique experience - bears are simply amazing.
track for day 13
day 12 in scandinavia, finland (0 comments)
i heard a police and later an ambulance siren for the first time during our stay in finland; i think this is a good sign.
after breakfast we headed out to do some birdwatching in the liminka bay. the area is huge, and there are five birdwatching towers all together. since we had no plan or map, we decided to start with the first tower right at the tourist information centre.
the information centre doubles as an exhibition centre, with information about all the birds you can see there including the habits of them, and much more on the bay and its birds. very interesting, and all for free.
we even got our private film show, as we were the only guests, and the super friendly staff even allowed me to bring coffee to the movies. now that was really great. with a better overview on what we could do here, we went to birdwatching tower number 1 in liminganlahti, the virkulla tower[001-046].
while walking to the tower we spotted marsh harriers, but they were about to leave, so we did not see these birds again, unfortunately. instead we mainly saw ducks, but otherwise not many birds.
there is also an outside area on the roof of the tower where you have a wonderful overview over the entire area. but there is also an inside area that is a hide and gives you protection from bad weather. but it seems not only humans seek shelter inside the tower, but also a little robin[030-036,038] found it convenient there. really cute, and he did not seem too shy. well, we could not have reached it anyway, so he was pretty safe from us.
besides this one bird we got to see from close up, there were some swallows, and a few unknown ones spread over the marshland. especially the little swallows were circling us for a very long time. either because they were curious, or their nests were somewhere on the outside of the tower.
but because they are so fast and tiny, it was hard to get a few picture[022-024,029] of them that were in focus. but i managed to do so - pretty lucky me.
actually this applied to all the birds we saw. because most of them were simply just too fast, or they were perfectly camouflaged, so the auto focus of my camera had troubles focusing, or they were just too far away. my gear has met its limits.
after a while all the birds in the area knew there were humans around, and it seemed they all had fled or were ducking. in contrast to the millions of gnats that now were happily feeding on us. all the insect repellents we put on us did not help anymore after a while.
so we decided to give up and drove to birdwatching tower number 2 in lumijoki, the sannanlahti tower[047-060]. again a bird was just about to leave when we arrived there, this time it was an eagle (or at least it looked like one to us, so we were pretty sure about that). well, at least this one i caught on camera before it was totally gone, and never seen again by us.
besides several flocks of geese[051-054] flying in formation, we did not spot any other birds. since the mosquitoes brutally started to attack again, we decided to also leave this tower behind and headed for the car.
it already got late, so we had to leave liminka bay, and headed to our accommodation for tonight. at first we missed the gravel road to it from the main road, because even our navigation system was unsure how to get there exactly. but a tiny little sign by the road then helped us to find the right way. the owner was already waiting for us, gave us a warm welcome and the keys, and then hopped into his car and asked us to follow him, so he can show us the cottage we will stay in.
turns out besides us there was only a couple there, so we were almost alone. since this place looked so amazing and beautiful, we decided to take a stroll around the area near the cottage[061-084].
it was really amazing here, with beautiful woods, and again loads of ant hills. we climbed down a hill, walked around there, then turned around and walked back again.
the mosquitoes were bearable as long as you kept on moving fast enough. then only half a million ones of them got to follow and bite you. so taking a picture always had to be considered and weighed up carefully: gaining pixels or loosing blood. although it seemed they always preferred my blood over ninas. grrrr...
when we came back to the cottage we noticed the sun began to set, and saw an amazing sunset in paltamo[085,093,095,100-125]. it looked so breathtaking, we just had to walk around a little more, blood sucking midges or not.
we found the other accommodations that were scattered around this huge area. two smaller huts were located on the top of a hill with an amazing view, and two chairs outside to enjoy this spectacular scenery. this place was really something very special.
on our way back to our cottage we went to the nearby restaurant/cafe where we were handed over the key before, and walked up a to an observation platform right on the roof of the restaurant. again we were the only ones here. it was a stunning spot, and we would not have minded, if these moments would have lasted forever, or at least a little longer.
but eventually, the sun had set, and it was time for us to get into our cabin, the "lacquer room" in the "forest spirit" villa, at the jättiliäisenmaa ("giant earth") holiday house in paltamo. we enjoyed our en suite sauna, and had dinner.
and we even got the confirmation for the bear watching safari - yippieh, we had a booking for tomorrow night. what an absolutely wonderful day.
today's high was around 25°C, and it was sunny all day long.
track for day 12
track for day 12 hike
day 11 in scandinavia, finland (0 comments)
we started our day with a long drive from tornio to oulu[01-95]. we arrived there in the early afternoon, checked in at the hotel then went out to explore oulu.
while we ambled through the town, we came upon a stadium, where there was a big track and field competition, namely the 2016 finnish athletics championships[04-06]. there were various athletic contests going on, such as pole, long, high and triple jump, races over various distances, hammer, discus and javelin throw, and many more. we have already seen them on various tv sets in bars, and hotel rooms. so now we knew where this was taking place. athletics seem to be a big thing here in finland; or maybe there was just nothing else to show on tv.
the stadium was placed on a small island and almost filled it up entirely. in the centre of the town there are a few little islands, each of them connected with several bridges. in general, oulu was a very green city. we found many parks and lots of green spaces. it also seemed way friendlier than tornio - there was a friendly atmosphere all over this town.
we also noticed the red water[03,18-23,25-27,29,52,54,56,60-61,65,67-68], which we had already seen before on previous days. according to robert, who told us about it a few days ago, this is because of the dissolved minerals. i was happy the tap water never had that colour. so far.
then we entered another big park, ainolan puisto[24-60], which spans over several smaller islands, where some were not accessible. there was a big rose garden[30-36] that nina enjoyed a lot.
loads of bees and bumblebees[37-38], loads of pokémon go mobs (yes, of course i was jealous i could not join them, thanks to roaming fees). and there was even a publicly accessible greenhouse[40-50], that really looked amazing on the inside. along the little ponds there was lots of waterfowl again, many of them with cute fluffy little chicks.
a lot of trees were wrapped in webs[28,58-59]. sometimes the entire tree was covered in them. we soon found out what the reason for that was: millions of ermine moths, building their communal larval webs. seeing whole trees swallowed up in the white sheath dresses was fascinating, remarkable, and disgusting at the same time. especially the larvae parties going on.
in the harbour area[62-89] there were lots of people enjoying the rest of this sunny sunday, that had temperatures up to 28°C and lots of sunshine. most of them were sitting, drinking and/or talking. there was also live music in the pubs and restaurants along the docks, that one could enjoy for free.
there were many little shops too, especially in the old market houses[69,75-83] around the big market hall, called the oulun kauppahalli[70-71,84,86]. but since it was weekend, they all were closed - including the market hall. unfortunately.
it seems all restaurants in oulu close at 20:00 o'clock, so we faced the problem of where to get food. after quite a while of searching, we gave up as we simply just could not find a restaurant that would be opened for a little longer and still served hot meals. so we just went to a supermarket, and grabbed some food there. we took it back to our hotel room at the best western hotel apollo.
that one, as many other hotels we had booked so far, was also lacking air condition in the rooms. with temperatures around 30°C this always means a rather warm night and room, where leaving the window opened was is no option because of the mosquitoes. so i guess this will be another sweaty night for me.
finland is simply just for winter, it seems.
at the hotel we did a research on organisers for bear photography, and sent a booking request to our favourite. hopefully they can fit us in an overnight package on such short notice, because that sounds like it would be a great experience.
track for day 11
day 10 in scandinavia, finland, sweden (0 comments)
was the day to face my finnish horror. i tried to fight it hard, but it seems there never had been a way around it. and so, on our way south to tornio, we stopped in rovaniemi[01-21], the village of santa claus. (almost) all year long, 24/7/365.25, pure, never ending horror i successfully had suppressed since my last visit here.
but to my surprise, it was actually less crappy than i had remembered it - maybe because this time i was mentally prepared for what to expect (as far as one can mentally prepare for... this). at least there was no christmas music, and besides two hordes of asian tourist flash mobs that vanished as fast as they had appeared, there were not that many people. i was a little relieved. nina[12,16-17] totally enjoyed the whole christmassy thing in july; and she also liked to stand on the arctic circle.
the rest has not changed much, except that the elf girls now wear larger hats so their ears are covered by it, while they used to have elfin ears the last time. too sad, that was at least one thing i had enjoyed about this place. the rest is still all about santa, christmas and all related gimcrackery one could buy in various little shops. but since it is still exactly five months and one day to christmas, we left this little land of santa horror, and returned to mid summer's heat and the "normal" finland.
for the rest of the day we were driving to tornio. once arrived, we checked in at the hotel, right with "heku & eldis" at the reception. the two of them must be local celebrities because there were a lot of posters of them around the hotel - also the young female receptionist seemed pretty impressed by them. well, seems like the two are having a big gig tonight, right in the park arena event restaurant.
to cool down our big excitement that we got so close to finnish stars, we took a stroll to sweden. the town adjacent to tornio is haparanda[22-42].
we hopped over the borders[23,40-41] of finland and sweden; to nina this meant her first time in sweden; yippieh. first thing to see there was a huge ikea store - what else. along the river bank where we walked there was lots of waterfowl, and - unfortunately - lots of mosquitoes too. soon we gave up and turned around, went back to finland, and continued our leisurely walk far away from the water, home of the blood sucking gadflies.
we walked past the tornion ortodoksinen kirkko[48-56], a wooden church from 1884. it was closed, so we just went round this small church. i was wondering what it would look like from the inside.
tornio spread a strange atmosphere and mood. there were lots of totally wasted people, lots of kids on the streets, but at the same time the surrounding looked quite friendly. our impression was that of a big, nice ghetto; really strange, and hard to describe. maybe (and hopefully) it was just so because it was saturday, maybe it would be always that way - we did not know.
we returned to the tornio park hotel, and called it a day. we even were too tired for "heku & eldis". too sad we missed their show. good thing is, we did not even hear anything from their act during the night.
today it was sunny, with around 25°C. so absolutely and totally perfect weather for santamus.
track for day 10
day 09 in scandinavia, finland (0 comments)
we decided to stay another night at the fell centre kiilopää, so we can do another hike today
. this time we wanted to try a looped trail hike, taking us from kiilopää to laanila and back again. the 24km long trail[01-85] started - like the trail we took yesterday - at the fell centre centre kiilopää [01-85].
it was a pretty hot day today with 30°C, but still we wanted to make the hike. we followed the snowmobile trails, that were used by hikers and mountain bikers in summer. but besides a few bikers we did not see any people at all. and also no reindeer so far, because either they are inside or outside the gate[01-02,85].
after a while we decided it is time to have a short break, drink some water, and eat some snacks. we came to a public camping site, but no people were here, except a family right at a fireplace. we took pictures at the lake where the fireplace was, and once we were done we noticed the family had left. so we went to the fireplace, as there were benches to sit. strange thing is, they must have put on a few new logs, so the fire will burn on.
we were a little confused. the ground was dry, it seemed it had not rained for quite a while, and still they put a new log in the fire and just leave? they did not inform us, nor did they care if we would go to the fireplace to watch it. so we assumed this must be common behaviour to keep the fire burning, no matter how dry the surrounding is. flying sparks? who gives a damn. well, for the time being we were watching the fire.
we started to unpack our sandwiches, when suddenly we noticed a few birds[11-32] flying from the other side of the lake to our fireplace. it was obvious they were attracted by our food and were used to humans. so at first we threw them some crumbs and they happily picked them.
then we dared them to get closer and closer. it took him a while, but in the end one of the siberian jays even picked the crumbs from my hand - aaaaw, so brave, so cute.
unfortunately the pictures of these moments were too blurry. i had my tele lens on, so they were too close - too bad. and for the record: before we left, we put out the fire; it just did not seem right to us to leave it behind still burning.
while hiking we saw loads of ant hills. there are a lot of them, and some got a little extra protection from humans, like a stone roof for better rain protection. near the streams we spotted several toads and a mouse too.
and we also saw some reindeer[44-46,64,67] again. as always, they were very cautious and shy, so we could not get near them.
today it was really very hot, all sunny and no clouds in the sky. so it felt amazing to take off our hiking shoes, and cool down our feet in the cold water of another brook. this helped a little and was really refreshing, as the water was quite cool. with our feet dangling in the water we had another sandwich and some more water to replenish.
near the end of our trip we noticed that it got always steeper - there was a hill[75-84] at the end of the trip. at first we hoped the trail would lead us around, but it went right up to the top. uffz, we were already pretty exhausted, and not very happy with the ascend. furthermore this meant that the little shadow we had so far from the trees along the trail were now disappearing again. just like yesterday.
but eventually we also made the last piece of the trail and finally arrived back at the suomen latu kiilopää hotel again. today's trail was listed with a length of 24km, but my gps tracker said it was only 22km. so it seems we balanced the 2km difference from yesterday's hike.
track for day 09 hike
day 08 in scandinavia, finland, norway (0 comments)
it was time for farewell. nina's parents[01-02] had their last day on this holiday trip, and their flight would be in the early afternoon from ivalo back home. on our way to ivalo we had a little stop at a place called karhunpesäkivi[01-13], the bear cave.
although this place only existed because one can crawl into an abandoned bear cave, i basically got the impression that they do not really like bears, looking at the various exhibits[03-05,13]. all bears were scary and/or placed in strange ways.
another strange thing about this place was a promised view over lake inari - this really huge lake (3rd largest in finland) in the north of finland. to get it, one has to climb quite a lot of stairs, to finally see... a tiny glimpse of a lake on the far far horizon. well, at least we had a little workout. besides that, there is nothing we could recommend - strange, and weird place.
soon we arrived at ivalo airport and once nina's parents were heading through security checks we left for the fell centre in kiilopää [15-61], which is right next to uhro kekkonen national park, the second largest national park in finland. we drove to the k-supermarket in saariselkä to get some provisions, then on to kiilopää.
there we checked in at the hotel (this time no scandic one), got a map of the nearby hiking trails, and decided to start with an 8km hiking trail. but before we started, we joined a workshop to make your own pan cake[16-19] over open fire, which was taking place in a tent right at the starting point of our trail. we managed to get a few good, not too burned, pancakes - delicious.
we started the "niilanpää päivätupa" hiking trail[20-61] in an area where there was still loads of trees[20-24], but soon the trees got fewer and fewer, and soon there were almost no trees at all[25-44]. why we had no idea, it was not like we had a steep ascend above the tree line. maybe it was the ground, or deforestation ages ago that kept the trees from growing.
there are emergency huts[37-38,57-58] with supplies of fire wood. one can chop themselves if they find themselves caught here in winter (or so we thought). so we chopped a few pieces of wood for fun [37-40]. with the sun and the hot temperatures of around 25°C this soon began to end in sweat and exhaustion. so we stopped doing that again, knowing that we could chop if we would have need of it one day (maybe in winter, when being caught here).
the landscape did not change much during the entire hike, but at least it was a beautiful landscape, with lots of tiny rivulets[48-56,60-61] and wide open spaces.
we found another hut but this one seemed abandoned. we only found some empty beer bottles and a campfire.
and we found other hut[57-58] that had fire wood again and even a little stove. this really looked cosy. we stayed a while to eat our snacks, drink some water for the fluid balance, and rest a little.
although it was totally silent - besides one bird every half an hour - we spotted wildlife. there were bugs, big dragonflies, tiny butterflies that nina likes a lot, a frog, a mouse, and a partridge. at least it looked like one. and of course reindeer, but only from afar. they seem to be very shy and cautious.
back at the suomen latu kiilopää hotel it turns out we did a 10km hike, not an 8km one. either we took a wrong turn somewhere (which might easily have been the case), or the trail was labeled wrong. we don't know. but it was nice having a hike again.
track for day 08
, track for day 08 hike
day 07 in scandinavia norway (0 comments)
was the day for our alta river boat tour[001-088], that we had already booked the previous days. robert was especially interested in the fishing waters and fish, while the rest of us was more interested in the canyon part of the trip. so we drove to sorrisniva, where our trip would start.
being there a little early, we got to meet an impressive cat[002-010], both in colour and build. while we were petting the little kitty, the tour guide had also shown up, and we had a little chat. he told us that there are lynx around in this area, and many of his cats got eaten by lynx. too sad; too sad the cats get eaten, and too sad we did not spot any lynx.
then the fun started. we got our life jackets and a few short instructions what to do, and what not to do. then we were divided into two groups, a finnish and/or norwegian one (we were not so sure about that), and an english speaking one, which we were in. then we made it up the river with about 30km/h.
from time to time our cool and nice guide slowed down, stopped the engine, and started telling about the river and other local stuff. once done, the engine and the wind would make it impossible again to understand a single word. in parts the ride was pretty bumpy[039-040,073] as the river was flowing quite fast, and sometimes there were (visible) rocks[039-041] in the middle of the stream. that's why only experienced guides can go here by boat - at least that is what our guide told us.
we noticed a lot of traffic on the river, and it seemed most of the boats where fishermen's boats. although, according to our guide, this is a very expensive fun. a fisher card for this area, which is also known for having loads of fish at this time of the year, costs around 17.000 EUR. best part is, this is all "catch'n'release", which means you can not even take the fish with you.
after a while we had reached the turning point, from where one can look into the actual canyon[057-062]. but this is as far as boats are allowed to go. so instead of going on further up the river, we took a little break at a little camping spot[068-071]. usually this one is rented by fishermen too, so they can rest and have a little meal out here. actually there was a bbq place too, so maybe one is allowed to eat the fish there.
unfortunately we could not bear it at this place for longer than only a few minutes, because as soon as we got out of the boat we were attacked by hordes of gnats.
as fishing here is pretty expensive, this of course has an impact on the people that come here to fish. and so our guide claimed the president of finland stays here from time to time, going fishing with him. well, we believed him. this time. he also told us, that if the president is here, he stays at this house.
on our way back to the place where we started from, we reached a speed of up to 45km/h, because now we were going downstream. it got really cold after a while, although it was hot when standing in the sun. so back at the headquarter, we got hot coffee and a cake to warm up again.
then we asked our guide if the husky camp, we saw a sign for while driving here in the morning, is still opened in summer, and what our chances are to get to see and pet some huskies there. he said we should simply just drop by and ask. so we drove back to where the sign was, and came to the "northern lights husky" camp[089-123].
turns out the camp was currently run by a young american couple who stays here to look after the dogs in summer, while the owners were somewhere else on holidays. the couple seemed pretty happy to get a little distraction and have contact to other humans again. so we were shown round the camp full of cute little fluffy cubs[089-098,113-115], ready to be cuddled and hugged.
it was pretty hard to get sharp pictures of the husky cubs because they were always moving, always active, and i forgot to adjust my camera settings because of the overwhelming cuteness of all those little hyperactive furballs.
then we were allowed to enter the big enclosure for the grown up huskies[099-112]. it was pretty hot, so most of the dogs were in their huts seeking shelter from direct sunlight. but they were too curious, so almost all of them came out to get a scent and a cuddled from us. there was a lot of tail wagging, and all of the canines were super friendly and seemed happy to meet us - and so were we.
usually there is a cafe too, but it is only opened in winter season - bad luck; i would have enjoyed a coffee with all the little cubs running around. but instead we offered the couple a little extra income (for the service and friendliness), which they happily accepted.
then, when heading to the exit, we noticed a black cat[117,119-123] that was using us as guards, so that it could sneak past the dogs. but of course not without taunting the dogs once it was past the cages - a cat has pride after all. the dogs barked and yelled, the cat enjoyed the spectacle. brave little feline.
time to get to our accommodation in karasjok, which seemed to be right in the middle of a sami park - the most touristy kind one. but it was just closing when we arrived. so we went to grab a bite. we chose a sami dinner in a big tent[127-134]. there we had reindeer steak and other reindeer meat meals[131-132,134]. it was absolutely delicious - poor reindeer; nomnomnom.
then we went to our rooms in the scandic karasjok hotel. if you wonder why we only stayed at scandic hotels so far, the answer is simple: robert usually stays in scandic hotels when he is in finland, so he wanted to use the frequent guest program bonuses that he had collected over the months. this meant a little cheaper room rates, and 20% off in the restaurants.
but maybe this will be the last scandic hotel for nina and me, because tomorrow we will bid farewell to beate and robert as they are heading home, while we get to stay another week.
today it was sunny with 14°C, and it was quite hot in direct sunlight.
track for day 07
day 06 in scandinavia, norway (0 comments)
it was time for art and a museum. namely the rock art of alta[001-066]. the main part of the museum is outdoor, including all the carvings, but there is also an indoor part, going more into details of the rock art.
the fine pieces of art were created by hunters and fishers, and most likely the drawings were part of their beliefs and rituals, and might also have been an aid in story telling.
most motifs show humans, animals, and tools they were using, like fisher boats, or fishing rods. reoccurring animals are reindeer, elk, bear, dog, wolf, fox, hare, goose, duck, swan, halibut, salmon, and whale. so all the animals that are still here today. other motifs include patterns and figures. also activities like dancing, hunting and fishing, gathering, and rituals are shown in the carvings.
the timespan for all the carvings is from 5000 B.C. to 200 B.C., with the oldest carvings being high above current sea level, while the younger ones are closer to the sea. this is, because the land rose over the millennia, thus exposing newer rocks at the beach, where all the carving usually took place.
then there was still the same boat, that i had already taken a picture, almost nine years earlier
. it lost the cabin, but the ship's hull was still the same. amazing how long it takes for this boat to decompose. i am pretty sure it will be around for another ten years, if left to itself.
the whole area was blooming[003,006,030,035,045,047,049-050,052-054,059-061], and there were bees and bumblebees everywhere. it was a constant buzz; so cute. also the colours were amazing.
after a visit to the indoor museum, the cafe, and the museum shop, we left the museum with its impressive rock art, and headed for the kobberverk kåfjord[067-104], an old abandoned copper plant.
actually there was almost nothing left from the plant, but there were plenty of leftovers scattered all over the area. like even more stone carvings, or huge slag plugs[073,079-090] from the smelting furnaces. due to corrosion, colourful patina and verdigris[081-088] formed on a lot of the plugs, giving it an amazing alien look. i really liked that a lot.
combined with a little insight and shared knowledge from robert's experience on cobber working we got to get a better impression of what might have gone on here in this area when the plant was still active and intact.
close to the old copper plant was the kåfjord kirke[105-115], a little wooden church from the 19th century, with a statue[105-106] of a family in front, and a graveyard[108-115] in the back of it. as it was closed, we only could walked around it.
however the northern lights cathedral, or nordlyskatedralen[116-134], was opened. so we went inside[118-132] this church, that also was rather small on the inside, although it looked pretty spacious from the outside.
from nina's parents hotel room at the scandic alta - where we will spend our second night in a row - one could look over straight to the church. our room unfortunately was to the other side, so no church for us.
the weather today was mild and sunny, with temperatures around 15°C, and a few clouds.
track for day 06
day 05 in scandinavia, norway (0 comments)
there were four planned stops: first stop, robert wanted to hold a king crab with his own hands, second stop, the north cape again, third stop, doing a bird safari tour, and last stop, our hotel in alta.
on our way[001-018] to the first stop we drove to the nearby north cape fishing lodge[013-014], but unfortunately the fishermen were out on the sea on their boat. so instead of lifting crabs, we had coffee and bought some postcards, spotted a cat that lived at the tourist information right next to the crab cage. it was maintained by the fisherman's wife, who was born in england, but then moved here, as she told us.
back at the north cape[019-030] again (as mentioned in the previous bLog entry, the parking ticket is valid for 48h) there was cloudy weather, and again a lot of people. besides the globe, this time we also visited the visitor centre[026-030] and looked at all the exhibits[026-027], watched a movie in the "super video cinema", went to the souvenir shops, went inside the very small st. johannes chapel, and visited the also very small thai museum, which was built to commemorate the visit of king chulalongkorn of siam over a hundred years ago.
then it was time to bid farewell again, as we had our next appointment at our final planned stop for today. so we drove to gjesvær[031-050], as usual with several unplanned stops in between, to enjoy the amazing and beautiful landscapes.
i really, really, really, really, really hope that i will finally get to see puffins, since i have been "hunting" them now for almost over 20 years, and they were never at their location when i was there, instead they were wintering or somewhere far away from people, or breeding, or hatching, or... doing anything else, just not to be there. and i sooooooooooo want to see them.
when we arrived in gjesvær we drove to the bird safari office, only to find out that this was not the right one. i was glad, because i have seen the huge boat that could easily carry 60 persons or more, but our tour was with a maximum group size of eight people. we got driving instructions from the staff there how to get to the other bird watching company. and soon we found our captain, and the small boat in the harbour for us.
the captain seemed happy to see us, since two other people cancelled their trip for today. so it seems, we will have the boat all to ourselves; how cool is that.
after getting a coffee and biscuits, safety and other instructions, we dressed in thick overalls, took all the equipment we would need, and headed out with the captain from gjesvær harbour to gjesværstappan islands, where we were promised to see loads of birds. the weather was fine too, so we all were excited to get going.
we started our birdwatching boat trip[051-260] on the "aurora", and already in the harbour area i spotted a little puffin - oh, i was sooooooooooo happy.
but it turns out this was not the only puffin here. no, there are 1.5 millions (yes, one-point-five-mil-li-ons) puffins here. how awesome. i was sooooooooooo much more happy. and the puffins were really everywhere[081-093,177-178]; in the water, on the water, under the water, in the air, everywhere, yeah.
the captain gave us a few numbers, like the 1.5 millions for the lundefugls, and that there is an estimated total of three million birds here around those islands - that was incredible and mind blowing to me.
amongst all those birds, there were ...
... cormorants, ...
... gannets, ...
... and i mean lots of gannets, ...
... seagulls (and i also mean lots of seagulls here), ...
... so to sum it up: birds - millions of them.
that was really amazing. and with the small boat we could get so close to the cliffs and almost pet the birds, who were, in return, understandably pretty grumpy. we were really amazed by how many birds there are, and that we could get so close to them. the little boat was so much better than the big one[060-061,155,212] we had spotted earlier this day.
we were also happy to spot a few seals too - we already missed them since our last scotland trip.
and all those animals interweave with the dazzling and marvellous surrounding. the big open sea, the harsh cliffs, the colours of the green strips on the rocks, the colours of the rocks and their layers, and the colours of the birds - all this made a wonderful photo motif.
but unfortunately, and sadly, every trip has to end eventually, and so our cool captain[229,248,260] (who might look like a roughneck, but was absolutely lovely and nice) brought us back to the jetty safely. there we got out of our coats, and went right to the tables to order some food. because besides the boat tours, the captain's wife offers excellent sea food in the same building. so we had a really huge seafood plate, with really delicious mixed sea food. nomnomnom. oh, i wish we had that back home too in this freshness and quality (but then maybe also at a price level like back home).
still overwhelmed by the sheer amount of birds, we made our way to alta[264-271] to get to our last stop; our hotel, the scandic alta. there we will spend the night. the weather today was sunny (24 hours), with a few clouds, and 13°C.
track for day 05
day 04 in scandinavia, finland, norway (0 comments)
we had to get up early again. it was 05:30 o'clock when we got up, had a quick breakfast at the hotel, checked out, took our shuttle bus to helsinki airport to get our flight to ivalo, and then head on to norway. ivalo is the northernmost airport in finland; we chose this one to get our rental car here, and return it in helsinki at the end of the journey - makes it easier and cheaper if you return it in the same country.
so at the airport we queued for our car at the counter, when we ran into our first problem; we were told that they have to charge us for the additional driver, which we actually already had paid upon booking online. arguing did not help and we needed the car, so for now we grumpily had to accept, and were told that we should file a written complaint to the company once we are done with our journey - note taken.
i was chosen as the driver to the north cape commune (nina did not want to drive yet), thus only a few pictures from a few short stops, like when reindeer[003-005] were blocking the street, or like the short stop[005-015] where we were looking for a cafe and washrooms, but found a little lake instead.
or our first stop[016-020] in norway, where we were looking for a toilet again, but found a wonderful mountain face.
yippieh, we made it to norway - i was so happy.
another stop[021-026] was just along the road, with a beautiful little bay (i was pretty sure i have already been here on my first scandinavia trip, and here is the proof
). or the stop[027-031], where robert and i examined the layers of rocks in detail. and our last stop[032-036], just close to our destination, where we were so impressed by the beautiful landscape.
late, and finally, we arrived at the scandic nordkapp hotel. we wanted to check in at the reception, but there was our second problem: we were "upgraded" - aha? - to a room in scandic bryggen in honningsvåg, because scandic nordkapp was fully booked. this meant a ten kilometre detour for us. so we drove back to bryggen. well, well...
the guy at the other reception there - who looked very much like hugh grant - confessed he was totally new to this job, and it seemed we gave him more than he could handle - poor him. he offered to check with his boss, and get instructions how to handle this situation.
enough with the problems; we were hungry, so we went through honningsvåg[037-054] and down to the harbour to have some king crabs[047-049] for dinner. most of us never had king crabs before - or at least not in this ... raw form - so it took us a while to get the hang of how to get the meat out of the crustacean shells. but soon we managed quite well, although the plates all looked like a battle ground. looking at other guests' tables, this was not the way to eat them properly. but it was very delicious and filling.
on our way back to the hotel we even spotted a norwegian forest cat; how cute.
thanks to the midnight sun we could still go up to the north cape and enjoy a beautiful view over the sea. so at 22:00 o'clock we jumped into our car, and headed towards the north cape[055-071].
at the north cape [072-108] we spotted lots of austrians[059,100], and most of them upper-austrians, according to their dialect. in general, there were lots of people ; the last time i was here i was more lucky, because i arrived at the parking lot when it was foggy, but soon the fog was gone, and it was nice sunshine all over this place, with almost no people at all.
nevertheless it was an impressive and an awe-inspiring sight, and i enjoyed every minute on the northernmost point (where a road can take you on the european mainland).
a cyclist asked me to take a picture of him. i did, and we talked a little about his bike. turns out he rode his bicycle over 3000 kilometres, from south to north norway in only a month. amazing performance, i was really impressed.
then we went over to the "children of the world" monument[092,095,098,099], and the "the mother and child" sculpture[093,094,096-099] right next to it, that also looked wonderful with the sun and the sea in background.
the ticket for the parking lot at the north cape is valid for 48 hours, so we will come back here tomorrow again, but for sure we will not have such an amazing sunset, as the sun will be in the back then.
on our way back we spotted another herd of reindeer[109-113].
by now we have been up for almost 19 hours. scandic bryggen in honningsvåg seems pretty okay actually, it is just that we always have to drive ten kilometres more when going to, and coming from the north cape. if tomorrow we go there again, that will be already 40 kilometres, plus the first time when they sent us back, so another 20 kilometres. yay, sums up to 60 kilometres. oh well, the landscape is worth all the driving, so i am fine with that. and the overbooked scandic hotel did not really look that cosy as our little one in bryggen. so we told hugh grant that everything was fine; he was happy, and so were we.
today the weather was sunny with a few clouds, and around cosy 18° celsius, though it was very windy on the north cape. i am so looking forward to get back there tomorrow again. but for now it is time to rest.
track for day 04
day 03 in scandinavia, finland (0 comments)
first thing today
was leaving pori and heading back to helsinki airport, because our aeroplane to ivalo will leave tomorrow in the morning. while driving back to the capital of finland, we stopped at a small flea market[01-02] right next to the street, and later stopped at a little lake called venäjänlammi[03-17]. there a family was bathing.
after another hour of driving we stopped at another little lake called salkolanjärvi[20-25]; there it was very windy. but the short break was good to keep awake while driving. finally, in the afternoon, we arrived at the airport hotel, checked in, left our luggage in the room, and took the airport shuttle to get to the finnair bus to helsinki centre. this gave us a few hours for a stroll through helsinki[26-89], starting (and ending) at the helsinki train station[26-27,81,85-86], with its beautiful granite statues outside[85-86], and a clock tower. opened in 1919, it is the most visited building, and was recently chosen to be amongst the most beautiful railway stations, and is an important landmark in finland.
next landmarks and not far from the station are kolmen sepän patsas (the "three smiths" statue) and the stockmann[28-29] building right next to it. the stockmann building is the largest department store in finland, and the biggest in the nordic countries.
right next to the statue is an esplanade[29-37], a big green area with loads of cafes and restaurants, an open air stage, and many people. seems like a place for finns to hang out.
at the end of "espi" there is a fountain with a nude female status, called havis amanda[34-36], fish, and sea lions spouting water. while it was not accepted by the people of helsinki when it was first erected, it is now considered to be the most beautiful piece of art in helsinki; time and taste change.
adjacent to the fountain is the lyypekinlaituri[38-46], also known as the "port to luebeck", because ships started from here to luebeck. usually there seems to be a big market on the kauppatori[45-47], "market square", as the name implies, and according to all the street signs and marks on the ground, but now there was none.
so we went on to the uspenski cathedral[48-50], an eastern orthodox cathedral, we did not enter. instead we walked narrow streets to get to the next big landmark in helsinki.
the tasavallan presidential palace[52-53], and the senate square, called senaatintori[59-68]. in the middle of the huge place with loads of steps[63-65] is the helsinki cathedral, helsingin tuomiokirkko[59,61,63-75]. right in front is a statue of alexander ii[61-62]. usually this place is crowded, but we were pretty alone there.
our little stroll then took us back again to the shopping miles of helsinki, with loads of beautiful old buildings and storefronts[76-79].
for dinner we went to a kebab restaurant, where we had a decent kebab. well fed and full we headed back to the elielplatsen for our bus back to the airport, just to get our transfer bus to the holiday inn hotel again. this day the weather was way friendlier, with another 20°C and rain only from time to time.
track for day 03
day 02 in scandinavia, finland (0 comments)
we slept long, then got up and had breakfast from a k-supermarket. we were searching for a cafe or the like, but could not find one for quite a while. the streets were empty, and no cafe spotted. so we decided to try the supermarket.
once we were finished and left the store, turned around the corner the street was full of life again with lots of cafes, and a street festival[03-07] (or something like that). grrrr... if only we had known or had taken that one more turn. oh well...
actually the street festival looked more like a mixture of health, fitness, age, provisions against aging, awareness raising topics.
then we met with nina's parents and drove to "cupori", the company robert is currently super visioning. there we got a private tour through the premises and the factory buildings. we did not take our cameras with us and took no pictures for the sake of trade secrets. the tour was pretty long and very interesting, showing how copper pipes of different diameters, thickness, and lengths were produced. unfortunately all the workers were already gone, so there was no machine noise, but also not much to see in action.
then it was time for the pori jazz festival. again we did not bring our cameras, so only mobile photos are available. first artist was joss stone[08-10], then richard ashcroft[14-15] (yes, the "verve"-guy), and ms. lauryn hill, who seemed pretty grumpy and not in a good mood.
since it was raining[12,17] all the time since we arrived at the festival area, we were pretty soaked and cold after hours standing around. nina's parents had access to the vip area, but nina and i had to get a warm place somewhere else during the performances. a big can of bear beer ("karhu" means bear) was not exactly helping to get warmer, but it was good (and also - as one would expect from scandinavia - very expensive).
but besides rain and a grumpy lauryn hill the mood atmosphere was all friendly and shiny happy.
after a short stroll through town, where we found various other little concerts in front of pubs apart from the main festival, we arrived at our airbnb accommodation again. today the weather was about 20°C again, but with lots of rain, especially in the afternoon and evening when we attended the festival.
track for day 02
day 01 in scandinavia, finland (0 comments)
after ladakh it was time for another new holiday experience. since nina was currently searching for a job, it was rather unpredictable when she will get her next job and thus her next holidays. then a rather spontaneous offer came along: a trip to finland and to the north cape with her parents, beate and robert, and us. that sounded like fun (and also interesting), so we opted in.
robert is currently a lot in finland, mainly work related. to see a little more of finland he suggested this trip. also, nina's parents got tickets for the "pori jazz festival" from the company he is regularly visiting. soon a rough schedule was worked out, and thanks to nina planned out more in detail. turns out we will be with nina's parents for one week, then we bring them to the airport and spend another week on our own to explore a little further.
so another holiday trip with a little more planning and fixed targets on our route; interesting and unusual.
started very early for nina, beate and me, as we had to get to munich to get our plane to helsinki, departure at 06:00 o'clock in the morning - brrrr. robert was already in finland and would fetch us in pori from the train station.
to get to pori we had to take the train, first one to tikurrila[01-02], then the second one to pori via lempäälä, tampere, and nokia (yes, the company is named after this particular town). the train had wifi on board, but that's just what i expected in finland. after about four hours of riding trains we got of in pori where robert was already expecting us.
another novelty was an airbnb accommodation. since the pori jazz festival seems to be the big event in this town it is always fully booked this one week of the year.
we phoned our host and soon liisa arrived on a bicycle, gave us the key, showed us the room. we thanked her for her hospitality, left our luggage there, and went to the surrounding area[05-64] of the jazz festival, as the tickets were day tickets for tomorrow.
then we tried some crispy fish[57-58] (we think it was deep fried sprats), with salmon, potatoes and vegetables. pretty good stuff, especially all the fish.
so far pori is a lovely town, full of life and people. robert said, it is usually more of a ghost town once the jazz festival is over again. too sad, and currently hard to imagine. there are cafes, pub gardens, and outdoor activities everywhere.
finish is still a strange language to me, even after the third time being here. although so far all my scandinavia trips touched finland was mainly for transit or visited because it was close by. but this time, the focus is mainly on finland. time to get this country a little better. the weather today was a warm 20°C and it was sunny all day long.
track for day 01