Today was a warm and calm summer day, so we decided to spend some time in the Espoo archipelago. There are many places from where you can rent kayaks and sup-boards. We started from Matinkylä beach. It costs about 20€ per kayak for 2h.
The shore of Espoo has many islands and the landscape is beautiful. It’s really nice to get a different perspective to the city. If you are not into kayaking, then why not take one of the public ferries that sail between the islands.
Vasikkasaari is one of the biggest islands which are for public. You can land by own boat or by the public ferry. There’s plenty to see and do. You can hike in the forest or just enjoy the scenery from the beach. You can have your own picnic or enjoy a good meal at the restaurant. We paddled around the Vasikkasaari.
A big white swan swam by my kayak.
It’s fun to circle around the narrow straits between the islands and admire both the nature and the hidden summer houses people have built on the islands.
Vallisaari is an island 20 min by boat from Helsinki market square. It recently opened to general public, after being almost abandoned for couple of decades. The island was governed by Finnish defence forces, and although it had as many as 300 inhabitants in the 1950’s, the last permanent inhabitants moved away from the island in 1996. The island together with smaller island Lonna have become the attractions of this summer in addition to the traditional Suomenlinna fortress.
The Finnish archipelago is beautiful during summer time. It’s hard to resist a ferry trip with the beautiful scenery, followed with a hike on the island. Today as the sun was shining, we decided to see this hidden treasure.
The island has interesting ruins of the old fortress. There are still areas where you are not allowed to leave the path, partly because of nature preserving reasons, partly for risk of old explosives.
Pathways are well maintained and the surrounding nature is lush.
There are plenty of butterflies (and bees) around, probably due to the various flowers that grow all over the island.
There are swans and other water birds swimming nearby the shore.
The island has a guest harbor where you can arrive by boat, but you need to leave the island by 10 pm when it closes for public. It’s not allowed to stay on the island overnight. The last public ferries leave around 8.30pm. If you wish to continue the summer night at the archipelago, you can go to the nearby Suomenlinna fortress island and catch a later ferry back to Helsinki. With the 7 eur return ticket you can visit Lonna, Vallisaari and Suomenlinna islands. Great value for money if you want to spend a summer day island hopping in the beautiful archipelago.
The Vallisaari island has one cafe that serves home made waffles and drinks, and there are also many places where you can fill your bottle with fresh drinking water at no cost.
Yesterday went to the nearby forest in search of boletus mushrooms. Although I didn’t have luck with those, I didn’t have to come home with empty hands. Luckily there were many russula mushrooms to harvest.
This red beauty in the picture is Russula paludosa (‘isohapero’). In Finnish the name means big, and indeed this mushroom is of good size. The cap is the size of palm so it’s easy to differentiate from the bitter tasting red russulas. This one is of exquisite taste and perfect for a soup.
You can recognize this mushroom by it’s beautiful red color that shifts a bit towards yellow and it’s stem which has a dash of red colour. It’s gills are dense and the color starts to shift from white towards yellow when the mushroom gets older.
Another good russula for a soup is Russula vesca (‘palterohapero’). It resembles Russula paludosa, but the stem is much harder and thicker.
Russula aeruginea (‘koivuhapero’) tastes good too. The color of the cap varies from olive greem to grayish green.
The mild and delicious tasting russulas make a heavenly mushroom soup. Here’s how I made mine today:
Mushroom soup: Clean and chop about 5dl of mushrooms. Heat the mushrooms in a kettle with some butter and onions. When the mushrooms start to soften, add 5dl of boiling water or vegetable broth and let boil for a couple of minutes. Thicken the soup with some melted cheese (50-250g depending how thick you want it to be), the Valio koskenlaskija savuporo cheese is my favorite for mushroom soups. You can also leave out the cheese and add some cream and flour instead. If you want a smooth soup, you can mix the soup in a blender before serving. Garnish with pepper and herbs. The red colored russulas give the soup elegant rose color (just like in rose champagne). Enjoy!
Mid summer is always special time in Finland. Mid summer weekend is the time of the year when people either flock to the various music festivals Finland offers, or alternatively, head out to the summer cottages. I’ve always belong to the ones who head to summer cottage, and preferably to a one by a lake.. The mid summer weekends weren’t perhaps so peaceful as a teenager with friends, as nothing prevents you from crazy-partying there either with your own mini-festival, sauna and barbeque. But nowadays, I enjoy more the peace & quiet that Finnish nature can offer.
This mid summer, we went to the lake with a rowing boat at midnight. The colors were really beautiful! Did you know, that in the northern part of Finland the sun doesn’t set for months this time of the year? It’s light all day and night long! In the southern part of Finland where we spend the mid summer, sun touches the horizon and creates beautiful sun set and almost immediately a sun rise with rich colors. Many of the neighbours had mid summer bonfires, but those were already fading when we went rowing.
We spotted a couple of black scoters at the lake. They are quite rare in this part of Finland. Also we saw fish jumping and creating waves to the otherwise calm lake. There must be some big northern pikes living in that lake!
If you have not tried a Finnish wood heated sauna and a swim in a cool lake, put that on your bucket list! It cannot get more Finnish than that, you’ll love it!