Finland Trip Summer 2006

The grand plan

Ekenas archipelago

Ekenas archipelago.

I think we've figured this one out to a tee. We're going to Finland for a week and a bit. We'll not make any fixed plans with the exception of my mother's party. We'll try to see the nature and spend as much time with friends as possible. I'm going to try to show Caz how Finland works and how people live and have fun. Hopefully we'll be able to stay at many different places as both family and friends are strewn out all over the south west, centering around Tammisaari (or Ekenäs in Swedish).
We'll be flying out later today, Thursday 22nd June, from Heathrow straight to Helsinki. We'll fly back on the 2nd of July. Tomorrow, on the 23rd, it's midsummer solstice in Finland and everybody will be celebrating. We've been invited (or almost invited ourselves) out to a summer house in the archipelago (very very cool!).
I'll be posting our progress (and adventures?!) here as we go along, so check back often, now ya hear.

A bit of background

Ekenas Southen Bay (Sodra Viken)

Ekenas Southen Bay (Sodra Viken)

Don't know how much you know about me but I grew up in a small town in Finland and I actually had no plans of leaving until life itself pulled my roots up in 1994. Since then I've lived in Sweden (1994-2000) and as of now in UK (2000 onwards).
Finland is a wonderful place, but if you really want to do things, it's quite a limited place. For now in my life I don't think I'll fit in very well in Finland. Somewhere in the back of my head I think I'll re-root in Finland in the future. It's a good place to be if you don't mind the pace being a bit different.
For Caz, my dearest, Finland is quite a bit of a strange place, and therefore quite intriguing. She's only been to Finland for a long weekend during the winter. She was brutally "forced" to have a sauna and then she rolled around in the snow too. Brave girl!
We're both very much looking forward to this trip as we've not had the time nor the money to go for a "pure" holiday before. Our journeys have mostly centered around going to the Nurburgring in Germany. Whilst that's a good holiday it's still got an agenda (if the track's open, we're at the track!). This time the only agenda is that we'll be going to my mothers 60 yo party which she's put on "neutral land" in Aaland (she lives in Sweden).

The journey begins

Right, so it's finally time. Caz left 18 minutes ago from Daventry, and I'm about to pack up and leave. Her ETA at Heathrow is 16:20.. I don't know when my ETA is as there's, as usual, troubles on the Tube, namely the Circle line, hopefully the District line is still up and running...
... We'll see... I'm off!

Leg 1 completed

I had a nice journey on the tube, Caz hd anightmare journey in the car... Humm. We went throught security at about 45 mins before the flight.. I would have liked to enter a bit earlier. Luckily we had no problems with security. we're now boarding. Next update will be from Finland. Over and out, what's your vector Victor?

Leg 2 completed - We've arrived in Finland

The flight went fine - we started off a tad late, but somehow they made up the time and we arrived 30 mins early. Very nice.
After a bit of a car ride we're now in Kirkkonummi and both myself and Caz are absolutely torn apart and totally knackered.
The lihapiirakka and nakkimakkara companioned with some fresh Olvi beer was like food sent from the Gods. We're off to bed now (00:56 Finnish time, 22:56 UK time)... Kippis!

Picture of in-flight satellite navigation system, Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

Just over Holland now, one third of the way to Finland


This morning we woke up at 11am... no actually 10pm as Caz found out a bit later. Ahah... Anyway, after a bit of computer problems we headed to the stores and then we encountered some more problems and figured out that my O2 XDA Exec has got issues with roaming in Finland - Nice.. Thanks Bill G!
Despite this we headed out for my friends cottage in the archipelago. This is a little piece of heaven situated in the nowheres in the south Finland archipelago.
Caz thinks this place is gorgeous! We arrived about 16:00 and since then we've enjoyed nature and had a proper sauna. We're in the middle of eating at the moment so we better get social...

Awaiting Finnish archipelago ferry., Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

Here we are waiting for the ferry on our way to the archipelago

Macke the skipper, Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

Here he is: Macke the skipper taking us out to the island.

View from Brunholmen, Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

Brunholmen - just one of the nice paradises out there in Finland... Wonderful

Finnish Archipelago at midsummer, past midnight., Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

Past midnight, still light. Calm, quiet, lovely.

Photo of a watch showing past midnight in Finnish Midsummer., Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

There you have it. The "proof" that it's still light past midnight. This is about as dark as it gets.

Caz having a look out towards the open sea., Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

Caz having a look out towards the open sea.


We woke up this morning to wonderful weather. The sun has been shining most of the day only to be covered by the occasional cloud. We stayed at Brunholmen for quite a while and we already miss it. We didn't manage to stay up till sunrise (we chickened out about 1h prior to it, but it never got dark).
Macke kindly dropped us off at Baggo harbour where we got in the car and drove to Ekenas. We'd like to extend our greatest thanks to Macke and Katja for having us over. It was great seeing you both, along with the Gottberg klan.
When we got to Ekenas my friend, Mika, came to greet us at the beach. I fed Caz her first Pyttipanna from Prisses (splendid junk food!). When we finished that we headed off to Mikas place where we are at the moment. We've had a nap and a shower and now we're looking forward to getting out to town.
Excellent day yesterday, excellent day today!


Last night we went met up with Jose went to a local bar. Caz has discovered Lonkero and was complaining it is "way too easy to drink". Good girl!
Today we've been taking it very easy. We're currently at my dad's place and I've hooked up my computer to the wireless network. We gave my dad my old 11mbps wireless kit, and it seems to work just fine.
We'll probably head out for a restaurant later on tonight. Key word being taking it easy.

Caz using the Internet in the back garden, Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

Caz is having a net-session in my Dad's garden


Junkka and Sanna's place, Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

Stopping by at Junkka and Sanna's place. Enjoying a quiet moment in the shade.

Chromed wheels, erhm... Bling..?, Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

Tobbe showed up too (BLING!).

President's Palace in Finland., Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

The Finnish President was having a bit of a summer cleaning and refurbishment. We decided not to bother go in.

Finnish Ice Breaker Ships, Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

Some specialized ships in the background; The Finnish ice breaker vessels. They're pretty useless in +20c, but give them -20c and they'll push through the thickest of ice.

Well, we finished off Sunday with a meal with dad and a few mandatory beers. We then went back to Mika's place to get some beddies, but we ended up watching a bit too much TV.
Luckily we weren't in too much of a rush this morning. We woke up and freshened up and then went down town for a quick breakfast, and then back to Mika's place to pack our stuff up. Mika's heading for work tomorrow so he'll need a bit of space. A "tack sa saatan" (thousand thanks ;) ) was given to Mika with a standing invitation to come visit us. We then headed off towards Kirkkonummi. We stopped by Junkkas place and had a coffee and generally a nice time. We even got given a wonderful piece of art by Elin (can't type a backwards N on this computer to get her signature right). Tobbe also showed up after deciding that it was easier for him to come to Junkka's placer rather than us heading there.
It didn't take them long to come up with a desire to fry some dead meat on a barbeque and join forces to aid the Finnish brewing union; we quickly got invited for a barbeque next Saturday. Can't wait.
We then headed back to Kirkkonummi... After a bit of food, Christer decided that he'd be a true gentleman and take us for a quick spin around Helsinki. That quick spin around turned out to be a ride in Pia's convertible car to see most of central Helsinki's sights. Caz seemed thorougly impressed.
We then got back to Christers' and Pia's and we've spent the rest of the evening in the sauna, eating and shooting air rifles.... u-huh. Common Finnish evening entertainment. Caz seemed to enjoy the Sauna, maybe she's not really British. Especially as she also seemed to enjoy shooting some beer cans with the air rifle.
Anyway, enough with the fun, we're off to bed as we're heading for Aaland tomorrow morning. That means a very early start as it's a 2h drive to the harbour and the ferry leaves at 08:45

Tuesday - The Longest Day

Knackered doesn't really describe the feeling. We got up this morning at 5am. Within 45 minutes we had drunk our coffee, packed our bags and got on our way to Turku harbour. I couldn't really apply the "at least it didn't rain"-philosophy as it's more or less been raining all day. Even so much that the Peugeot 205 CTI leaked through the roof as much as my shitty worn Belstaff bike gear... A few drops here and there makes for a cold drive/ride.
Anyway, we made the ferry with quite a margin... The rest of the journey was spent trying not to fall asleep, just like Caz, my aunt Tuje and my uncle Kari... heading for Aaland for my mothers 60'th party.
Once they let the cattle (us) off the ferry at 14:30 we took a bit of a detour in Mariehamn following Kari (he knew the route out of Mariehamn).. anyway, a bit later and a few detours wiser, we got to the cottage my mother has rented...
...trying to cut it short... We got here, has more good food, good beer and plenty of Sauna...And unfortunately tons of tiny biting insects....Beware; they'll be drunk if they bite me! It's now past 1 AM, Caz enjoys the beers and the Sauna! Goooood Girl!! I'm going to try to be social now.. And join the, Marconi discussion... Or have more beer.

Wednesday and Thursday

As the above states; that was at 1 AM, we stayed up until about 4 am meaning that we stayed up for about 24h.. Yawn. On Wednesday most other guests arrived totalling us to about 19. Keeping up with the catching up was hard. One of the guests were my cousin Maria Korpi. If you're into fashion you might know her from 1 Korpi-Gordon who do fabric patterns (that's probably the wrong technical term but it'll do for now). Ikea recently purchased 5 patters from them. Nice work!
Naturally we ended up in the Sauna again, including Caz who's now starting to enjoy the burning hot steam on her back. Oh dear, what have I done.
This time we went to bed early; 6am. It had to be done so that Caz could see that it actually never gets properly dark. The sunrise is quite beautiful out there in the middle of "nowhere".
Once we got up, gone noon, we didn't have much time to eat a bit and pack our stuff up heading for Langnas where we'd rendezvous with Sea Wind where Christer is Cheif Engineer. Naturally this meant that we had to see Christer's toys.
And by Christer's toys we mean the engine room, including everything that goes with it. For those who know Caz you might remember that she works for Cummins. Cummins manufactures large diesel engines. Naturally seeing these marine diesels that are even larger than the "normal" ones, was a huge treat. We also got to see the bridge and the view from there is truly spectacular.
After having a huge plate of food we headed for the sack to catch a few Zs. Approaching Turku we went up on deck to shoot a few photos and soak up the picturesque landscape.
From Turku we had the two hour drive back to Kirkkonummi ahead of us. We tried to make the most of the journey by doing some elk-spotting for Caz, but we failed and saw no elks, just a few horses and some cows - these don't count. Well back in Kirkkonummi it was time to hit the hay again.


Righto - we woke up to the calmness of the forrest at Pia's. There's something magical about waking up in a place where there's nobody around. After the morning coffee and a shower we started making our way towards Tammisaari. Sadly we missed the train, and had to take one train towards Espoo, and then get on another one to Karjaa. This confusing arrangement apparently confused the conductor who sold us the ticket too, so we ended up paying twice (not twice the price, thankfully!), but the Pendolino train took us very quietly to Karjaa.
In Karjaa we were met by my dad who had organized his sisters car, or rather a thing that was a car when it was new (It's a Saab 900 with 380,000 km on it... and I hate Saabs). This car has been our chariot the last few days and it's done its job quite well.
Back to the journey; We stopped by my grandmother who was extremely happy to see me even if we only stopped for 15 minutes. Funnily she gave me a tape that Macke, Nicke et al made playing in a band called "Freezing Hot" about a million years ago. I need to find a tape recorder to listen to it.
When we got to Tammisaari we didn't stop long, but headed out towards Hanko which is the southernmost town in Finland. Another picturesque town filled with beaches, sailing boats and big wooden villas on the sea front. We did a bit of walking around and stopped for a Pyttipanna (hash type food) with fried egg and enjoyed the start of the evening boot sale. The Pyttipanna landed like a cannon ball in our stomachs so we decided to head back towards Tammisaari.
Half way lies Lappohja. When I was a kid my uncle Kimmo had a house there and I spent many summers in Lappohja. We quickly drove around and Caz got a quick tour. The most glorious thing about Lappohja is the wonderful sand beach that's about 2km long.
Back in Tammisaari we decided to look for quiet accommodation, so we went to look up my friend Nicke who runs the camping site in Tammisaari. He had two cabins left, but they're both without shower and we wanted a bit of urban comforts so we skipped the cabin and found ourself a bed in a motel in Ekenas.
Later on in the evening we met up with Macke, Katja and Nicke for a few well rounded pints of beer. Then back to bed before it got dark (remember, it never gets dark).


On Saturday we woke up fairly early and had decided to head out to the Hogsand beach in Lappohja. I wanted to buy some stuff to eat and maybe a beach towel or so, but the stores I knew about had moved. This finally confirmed that for somethings, other things than the date changes.
When we finally got to the beach it was noon already, luckily there was a bit of wind so the beach was quite empty and we got to pick "my old spot".
It was a bit of a weird experience sunbathing after about 14 years or so. Caz, being Brittish and thus living close to the "real sea" didn't find the water that cold so she braved a swim. She stayed in for quite a while. Brave lass! I did give it a go, but decided that the slight wind combined with the cold water wasn't going to flick the switch for me. Especially as I knew there was a long Sauna session coming up.
We gave up the beach after two hours; nipped back to Tammisaari to meet up with Nicke at the camping site again. We scounged a coffee off him and said our goodbyes.
My dad then dropped us off at Karjaa where we quickly checked in to the hotel and almost immediately headed off to Junkka's place. At Junkka's place we were greeted by Junkka, Sanna, Tobbe, Marjo and all the kids.
The evening started off with beers, then we got the barbeque going and shortly after we ate all that wonderful food that Sanna had prepared and Junkka barbequed. When the barbeque had died it was time to light another fire; the Sauna. Junkka stuffed it full with fire wood to make up some time. When we got back out Bjorn had arrived. Quick hellos and catch up and before we knew it Bjorn had to go and the Sauna was ready for us.
The Sauna was lovely, despite my slight sunburn (tip: don't fry yourself in two steps; Sun then Sauna, the sum of the pain is larger than the parts).
A few more stories later and we decided to head in towards Karjaa and grab a few more (Bear) beers. Tons of laughter later and way too soon (for me and Caz anyway) the night had to come to the end; We said bye and got to the hotel around 2am and we were probably asleep before I had flicked the light switch.


Today we've been taking it very easy. We got up, got breakfast, showered and checked out.
Sanna kindly delivered the Fiskars knives that we got given by Tobbe on Saturday evening. We thought that it wasn't really appropriate, even by Finnish measures, to bring big knives into the pub.
We then walked the 10 minutes to the station to discover that the next train to Helsinki was only 10 minutes away. Nice! We got a ticket and got to ride one of the two story trains. Very clean, quiet and comfortable.
When we arrived in Helsinki we put our suit case into storage and headed for a quick meal and a sightseeing. We ended up in Stocmann which is the equivalent of Harrods in London. We didn't buy anything despite all the tempting souveniers.
We then took the airport bus straight to the airport where we're about to board right now.... More later!

Finally Home

The flight home was quite pleasant and it went quickly too. We got through Heathrow without any delays and everything has been pretty much smooth sailing from there on home. We've just exploded our suitcase open so we've got a huge mess, but right now we need rest; Work tomorrow and alarm will go off before 06:30. I'll write a summary tomorrow or whenever next I have a moment and my brain has untwined all the experiences. I've also asked Caz to write about how it looks from her side of the fence to go to Finland for holiday. Good night, wherever you are.