Finland Norway and North Cape travel guide, itinerary and useful tips
My story is the result of notes taken while our escorts were trying to document us on the places we were going to discover ... ... I know that I have been long-winded but I advise you to read it, maybe a little at a time, because you will be part of an adventure that for me it will be unforgettable ...
I had wanted to go to Finland for many years but, to see so many interesting things in less than two weeks, I just had to buy a package.
In order to be more likely to see the Midnight Sun it is advisable to leave between June and the first half of July because at the end of July the sun is already starting to stay below the horizon, so I decided to leave on July 3rd.
Finland information and guide
1 ° day
In Rome we left with a Finnair flight in the evening and we arrived at Helsinki after midnight; at the exit a Giver manager was waiting for us who took us to the Radisson SAS Plaza Hotel, a four-star hotel located in the city center, which can be reached in about thirty minutes by car.Admire the Northern Lights inside a sleigh hotel and fall asleep under the Lapland sky
Here we met our escort who gave us the keys to the room.
2 ° day Helsinki Lappenranta
The next day, after a very rich breakfast, we went on a tour of the city with a local guide who spoke our language very well.
He gave us information on the uses, customs, culture of Finland.
La Republic of Finland (in Finnish Suomi, in Swedish Finland) has an area slightly larger than that of Spain and has only 5.000.000 inhabitants.
The average salary is 2600 euros per month, life is more expensive than in Spain but if you work in two and go to live outside Helsinki, you live well.
Lately the State wants to encourage marriages (until a few years ago there were many cohabitations) and in this regard it gives couples who bring into the world a child an allowance of 100 euros per month up to the 17th year of life, which is increased if other children are born.
The state offers every newborn a complete layette, there are many nurseries, compulsory school starts at 7 (because according to the Finns children must play) and during the lessons they alternate study with walks in the woods, skiing , swimming, etc.
The school is free, as are the canteen and transport.
A recent study shows that Finnish students are the best prepared in the world because the teachers use very engaging teaching methods. Since they are children they are used to going to school alone with the bike that they also use on the snow, they wear special thermal suits and over them reflective jackets because in winter the light lasts a few hours.
The schools reopen in August, of course there is full time, a canteen service for which the children always eat with others and, when they finish lunch, they have to thank their classmates for sharing the food with them.
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The houses are all covered with wood to keep the heat because in winter it can even reach 30 ° below zero and inside there are carpets where they walk with woolen socks.
These carpets are washed with water from the lakes or the sea, which is not very salty, where there are winches to squeeze them and this operation is performed by the men of the family.
The Finns love their homeland very much especially since it was freed from Swedish domination and in front of every house there is an auction where, when they are at home or on the occasion of weddings or important holidays, the flag flutters. The heating is by electricity as well as the kitchens, to avoid fires.
The wooden houses are overwhelmingly red or yellow.
Energy does not cost much because it is produced by hydroelectric, wind or nuclear power plants.
Did you know that there are 200.000 lakes in Finland?
The roads are lined with birch forests, different varieties of pines, firs and many forests belong to private citizens who buy them, build their houses there and are not afraid to live alone because in Finland there is no crime.
There are no security doors and along the roads that run along the inhabited forests there are personal mailboxes or a single yellow mailbox where the postman throws mail, for all the inhabitants of the place, during distribution. From the first snowfall, motorists have to use studded tires until the end of winter, so the road surface is damaged a lot and is redone every year.
The permitted speed is not very high because there are moose, which are wild, or reindeer that occasionally cross the roads and it is dangerous to brake at the last moment.
Christmas is a very heartfelt holiday: all the carpets and curtains are changed and replaced with other themed ones. There are no railings, no shutters, no shutters on the windows because the light is poor and even in summer I have seen, especially in the north that, although the sun never sets, there are only veiled curtains on the windows and above all candelabra and fans and then many plants with colored flowers.
Many build their homes themselves and women help men.
They also make their own bread, they collect considerable quantities of berries towards the end of August and they make jams, liqueurs, juices.
By the way, there are no maids, here the women do everything by themselves.
When one becomes elderly and is no longer able to look after oneself, one moves to elderly centers where one is cared for. Separations are increasing and if there are children they are assigned more to fathers than to mothers.
Finland itinerary, what to see and places to visit
Helsinki it was chosen in 2000 as one of the nine Capitals of Culture and from an architectural point of view it is a typically Nordic city.
We have seen the piazza del Senato in neoclassical style as well as white Lutheran cathedral, Uspenski Cathedral, the largest Orthodox church in Scandinavia, the National Museum and the National Theater and the Railway Station in the National Romantic style which is a Finnish interpretation of the Jugend style.
Very nice to see is the colorful open and covered market, in front of the port, with stalls of fruit, vegetables, fish and Finnish handicrafts, the flea market where Finns rent a stall and sell what they no longer like. in their homes, it Olympic Stadium, la Chiesa di Temppelakio, excavated in the granite, externally you can see only the copper dome, an example of modern Finnish architecture, the monument to Sibelius, the most famous Finnish classical music composer, the work of the Finnish sculptor Eila Hiltunen.
At noon we had an appointment with another guide who would be our escort for all eleven days through the Finland and Norway.
Departure for Porvoo, the second oldest city in Finland, bordering the Gulf of Finland.
Before visiting the town of Swedish origin we had lunch in a manor, thehotel Haikko, which is also one Spa, located on a 14 hectare property 6 km from Porvoo.
This manor dates back to 1362 and has been a hotel since 1966.
It is a place where the charm of the past combines with the modern.
A romantic manor with a huge patio, terrace and garden that we visited after lunch.
We had lunch in a very elegant room where we were served refined dishes including the freshest salmon in a crust.
After we went to visit Porvoo which is located on the banks of the river of the same name where I photographed the wooden warehouses of the riverside (with the typical red color of Scandinavian houses) which have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The small town has two parallel streets that lead into the main square and has a modern and an ancient part.
The old part has cobbled streets with wooden houses, pottery shops, pastry shops, chocolatiers and the Cathedral in gothic style that we could not visit because a wedding was being celebrated.
Porvoo is the city of artists, sculptors, painters and is full of museums e gallery.
Here was born Runeberg, author of the verses of the Finnish anthem.
Historically it is important because in 1800 Finland was annexed to Russia and in 1808 Tsar Alexander I brought the seat of Parliament here and in the session of the Diet of Porvoo, in 1809, granted autonomy to the country.
You must know that Porvoo was one of the stops of the ancient Via Del Re, this was one of the main tourist arteries of the Scandinavia which was used in 1300 by kings, their courts, cardinals, bourgeois, artists and armies.
Porvoo, which at the time was located close to this main artery, was appreciated for its taverns and shops.
We got back on the bus and went to Langinkoski (5 km from kotka), a true paradise for those who love salmon fishing, and this was also realized by Tsar Alexander III who had a small house built for fishing along the rapids (a few km from the border with the Russia).
This Finnish region, which acts as a hinge and border with Russia, is the Karelia.
Historically it was a real "nation", the cradle of a particular culture and traditions, linked to an Orthodox religious matrix, under the Finnish crown; but, after the end of the Second World War, a part of this region passed under Russian sovereignty and so Finland was left with only the western part of Karelia, very beautiful from a landscape point of view.
Then we continued our journey towards Lappeenranta, located on the Lake Saimaa, 50 km long that connects the inland lakes with the Gulf of Finland.
It started to rain and, before reaching the Scandic Patria Hotel, we visited the Lappeankikko orthodox church, a wooden church from 1794 with interiors in shades of blue, where we attended a celebration for a few minutes.
Under an increasingly persistent but fearless rain, we went to browse, near the port, along the shore of Lake Saimaa, the Sandcastle, the largest sand sculpture in Finland created by hand with 3.000.000 kg of sand.
Of course, in addition to the castle, there are characters from famous fairy tales including "Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf" always made of sand
The journey continues ...
Photo gallery Finland