…in the Finnish countryside. After we explored Helsinki for a couple of days last summer we rented a car – including a baby car seat – and headed North through the beautiful, lush and green forests.
We were lucky to be able to stay with my former host parents near Tampere, the largest inland city in Scandinavia and often referred to as Manchester of Finland.
We however left the city behind rather quickly; Finland isn’t a very densely populated country so you end up in the countryside right after the city border – or sometimes even before that. From the road it is hard to spot the mökkis – the traditional Finish cottages built from wood and usually situated at a lake. The only indication is usually a lantern or flowerpot and a small sign with a number on it pointing to a small path, which will lead you to one of the cottages. One of them was our destination. The Fins love to spend their weekends and summer vacation in their cottage – they tend to be simple, often without electricity and running water but you also get really fancy ones. If you end up staying in one of the simpler ones you will get to experience the outside toilet, which is especially pleasant during winter times. You will consider extremely carefully what to drink in the evenings in order to minimize the chance of you needing to go to the loo in the middle of the night.
We were lucky – our place for the next few days was equipped with an indoor toilet – and the spot had much more to offer! With such a stunning surrounding we decided to stay offline for a few days and just enjoy our time. It does not take long to slow down – even though Finland is extremely tech savvy, after all it is the home to Nokia (which is by the way a city), the Fins are also closely connected with nature.
We soaked in nature, picked berries, went rowing, swimming, barbecued fresh fish, drank beer and spent a lot of time in the hammock and the sauna.
It is safe to say that sauna is a very important pillar in the Finish culture and something they take very seriously. I have not visited a Finish house where there is no sauna (or access to a sauna). Sometimes they even have two – an electric one for the quick sauna during the week and the proper one with wood for the weekends and special occasions. Fins can spend an entire afternoon in the sauna – with breaks obviously where you go for a swim, roll in the snow or have a drink. Swimming is done naked – if you put on your swimming trunks or bikini you will out yourself as a tourist within no time.
We ended up spending a large chunk of the day in the sauna interrupted by swimming, drinking some sips of beer and starring at the beautiful lake which reflected the trees like a mirror. Our baby boy was either sleeping in his pram outside the sauna (protected with a mosquito net) or we took turns going to the sauna when he was awake.
One of the days we had visitors from a swan family, which we observed for a long time.
Way to fast the days rushed by and as – according to my host father – a stay in Tampere would not be complete without test eating a mustamakkara, we headed to town again before leaving. I knew what to expect and was, let’s say, semi-excited. Wanna know why? Well have a look below.
Does it look appealing to you? Mustamakkara literally means black sausage and is a traditional blood sausage. I have to say it tastes less horrible than it looks. And it tasted better than I remembered probably due to the good company and the perfect, sunny summer weather.
We had such a good time and realized that sometimes doing close to nothing is very relaxing!