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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Punkaharju, Savonlinna and Kupio

Trunk surrounded by cranberries

During summer time, it was, let’s say, crowded in apartment 72. A lot of friends were coming and thus, we discovered sight-seeing Finland.

Olavinlinna in Savonlinna

After a one day walk around in Helsinki, Angie, Tobi and me started on a rainy Monday morning towards Lappeenranta. A cozy little town with Finland’s oldest wooden church; but not so much more to explore.  After a little while more in the car, we reached our cottage in Punkaharju – an huge campground including attractions like waterparks, mini golf, canoeing, frisbee golf, table tennis, fishing, … Heaps to do. Oh yeah, and Sauna of course.

Tobi and me on top of the Puijon Tower

Next stage was the old Swedish castle Olavinlinna in Savonlinna, battle scenery between the Russians and Swedish, before Finland got independent in 1917. Beautiful, this castle, surrounded by water – the Kyrönsalmi.

Lookout from Puijon Tower

We went further north, as far as Kuopio, where we would stay the following two days. The three of us, in one hotel room, and I was the lucky one, winning the children bed which was as soft as jelly. But ok, I survived. The next day, we walked up the Puijon mountain, where ski jumpers are having fun in winter time, doing a boat ride on the Kallavesi and enjoyed a traditional finnish celebration (wooden sauna, an huge buffet including smoked salmon and a lumberjack show with live music). The next day, we were heading back towards Helsinki. On the way, near Leppävirta, the hiking track though the Orinoro gorge was the last highligt.

Path leading through the Orinoro gorge

Monday, September 23, 2013

Going far up north

Ramberg beach offers a bit caribbean feeling
Long time no post, work and stuff keeps me busy all time. A lot was happening, but I'll start with a little pre-story: Antje and I had a bit more than a week to travel around, thus a kinda schedule was needed. We took the flight to Rovaniemi first, rented a car and hit the road. And oh yeah, Rovaniemi, the place where Santa Clause is supposed to live. Not hidden in a tiny wooden house off the road somewhere in the forrest. No!!! Right next to the highway, 3 km from the airport (logistically perfect chosen). A lot of (chinese/japanese) tourists were on his traces as well. And found him, of course. The white-bearded man was awaiting each of them to have little chat and a family photo shoot. Strange fact: We've seen two Santas, but the one we were speaking to was obviously the right one :) Christmas is saved this year!

Lookout from Reinebringen summit towards Reine and Hamnoya
After an 1 hour touristic tour through Rovaniemi (that's pretty much sufficiant to see everything) we did some shopping and started once again, following the road west. Soon, the Finnish-Swedish border was reached and passed. We went as far as Kiruna that night before setting up the tent at a riverside. BBQ, keeps the mosquitos away, and off to sleep.

"Ferske reker" as dinner at the beach
If you go camping, you are supposed to wake up early. But we didn’t. And we still had a long way to go. We left Kiruna and a huge lake behind us, crossed the Swedish-Norwegian border easily and some more hundred kilometres, bridges and curves later, we arrived at our destination. Valberg, Lofoten. The cottage key was still hanging in the lock. We opened the door and found ourselves a well-equipped, but old-fashioned furnished house.

Grey clouds only in Eggum area 
The next days were just perfect. Sleeping long, late breakfasts, some hiking and walking tours, cruising on the ocean and catching some fresh fish for dinner. Delicious. And a relaxing time on top of it.

Laukvik lighthouse with the sun setting
The overall lookout from Reinebringen and the beautiful beaches around Ramberg and Flakstad are definitely a must see. Days passed by quickly, and we did the same on the way back, splitting the kilometres and tenting somewhere in the bushes before crossing the border to Sweden.

Antje getting the view for it
Our way led us through the endless forests in Lapland. And there, to come back to Santa Clause, we found his little helpers. Reindeers! But it seems they are a bit stubborn. They are not just crossing the streets; they are walking on them on purpose – looking left and right being even more interested in humans than vice versa. Pretty cool and a good finish for our trip.

Reindeers do like the finnish streets