The Last of the Nordic Countries: Finland

Helsinki Archipelago

Last weekend I finally made it to the one Nordic country I had not payed a visit yet: Finland. Finland is known by most people as a country marked by countless lakes, endless forests, an abundance of saunas, a high consumption of vodka and high suicide rates. As for the countless lakes and the endless forests, this can be nothing but true. There is a reason why Finland’s nickname is the land of a thousand lakes, or why the joke goes that Finnish people can not live on the moon because there are no trees around. We’ve only made it 40 kilometers outside of Helsinki during our stay and it was clear that you don’t even have to travel that far to find yourself in the middle of the forest. 

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We travelled by ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki, a surprisingly cheap way to cross the Baltic. Locally notorious for being a ‘booze cruise’ and filled with an interesting mix of people, the boat is pretty much an experience by itself. But it’s a scenic way to get there too. We had a wonderful evening as we sat outside and watched the Stockholm archipelago pass by. Once in Finland the boat passes right by Sveaborg, Helsinki’s main tourist attraction. Already on the boat it appeared that the vodka cliché must have a ground of truth.

IMG_4559_2 (1)I traveled togeher with Matthias to attend our first Outdrr meetup and meet some of our fellow bloggers. We spent the weekend in Helsinki, Noux national park and close to the archipelago. You can soon read more about the meetup on the Outdrr blog, so I won’t be going to much into detail about it. Noux is a popular place for people living in the area so it gets pretty crowded on a nice september day. It somehow reminded me of Skuleskogen: very green and rich forest, big rock formations, lots of water. If you basically think how a nice place with a thousand lakes and endless forests could look like, you will probably end up in Noux. We closed our day in the park with a sauna. Finns are probably the only people in the world who have such a thing as mobile saunas you can drive into the forest and park right by your favourite lake.

We stuck around for two days after the meetup to visit an old friend. Beforehand I often heard that it wasn’t too bad that I had not been to Helsinki yet. It was kind of ugly, kind of boring, kind of small. I actually really enjoyed it. Yes, it has ugly neighborhoods, but it also had very nice ones. We spent our Monday cycling through the city and ended up in one of the nicest seaside cafés I’ve ever been to. You notice that you are no longer in a Scandinavian country and start to feel a more eastern culture, which I found very interesting.

Helsinki CafeI can imagine that further inland, Finland has a lot of natural beauty to offer. Even just to find out that its grumpy-appearing inhabitants are actually a collection of nice and friendly people, the country is worth a visit.

 

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