Vallisaari island daytrip

Vallisaari 11

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.

Vallisaari 5 – kopio – kopio

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.

Vallisaari 7

Pathways are well maintained and the surrounding nature is lush.

Vallisaari 10

There are plenty of butterflies (and bees) around, probably due to the various flowers that grow all over the island.

Vallisaari 2

There are swans and other water birds swimming nearby the shore.

Vallisaari 8

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.

Vallisaari 6

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.

Vallisaari 9

Mushroom soup fiesta

Isohapero 1Yesterday 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.

Punahapero

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.

Palterohapero

Another good russula for a soup is Russula vesca (‘palterohapero’). It resembles Russula paludosa, but the stem is much harder and thicker.

Palterohapero 3

Koivuhapero

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!

Sienikeitto

 

Mid summer beauty

Maisema 2

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.

Maisema 3

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.

Mustalintu

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!

Maisema

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!

Laituri

 

How did a fox get a white tail?

Kettu (231 of 294)-1

For the past weeks I’ve been mesmerized by red foxes.. It all started by the photographs taken by my buddy from photography school (we nowadays call him the fox whisperer because of his portfolio of fantastic fox photos). He has also other great nature photos, you can check them out in instagram.

Kettu (22 of 174)-1

Then luckily an opportunity came to watch and photograph wild foxes. And I totally get it now why someone would wake up at 5am to find these beautiful animals. This beats any reality tv show, anytime 🙂 Luckily this family of five puppies weren’t shy or bothered by people.

Kettu (158 of 294)-1

The cubs were eating rabbits, squirrels and birds, brought by their mom. And they were doing what all kids are doing: playing with their siblings!

Kettu (127 of 294)-1

There is an old Finnish tale about the white tail of a fox. In short the story goes that a fox went to drink the cream from a churn inside a house, and got the white tail from the cream while escaping. True or not, I don’t know. But these two look like they could be up for such an adventure 🙂

Kettu (40 of 174)

Snowshoe hiking in the forest

Lumikengät

I had my birthday this week and got these great snowshoes as a birthday present. Of course I had to try them out! Snowshoes are designed so that you can fit your own shoe inside, and the snowshoe will support you on the snow so that you don’t sink into it. There are metal spikes on the sole of the shoe to help during steep slopes.

Metsä

We went to the nearby forest, same place where we go skiing. There wasn’t a lot of snow left, but enough to make the snowshoes useful. It was a rewarding feeling to walk where ever we felt like walking, and not be restricted by paths made by others. The shoes worked really well, they gave a good grip so going up and down hills was easy.

Sauvat

Today was a beautiful sunny winter day. The forest was full of tracks and foot prints made by different animals: deer, rabbits, squirrels, foxes.. Forests are full of life even though you don’t always see the animals.

Fatbike

Also some tracks by fatbike and mountain bike bikers and other hikers.

Maastopyörä

Finns are pretty crazy folks, who else go biking into the forest in the middle of the winter, eh?!

Kallio

The rocks, icicles and sunlight filtering through the trees into the snow made the forest look really pretty. You could already sense that spring is just around the corner.

Mänty

Again, so much happiness gained from a walk in the forest!

Minä

 

Skiing in the forest

DSC_0032 (2)

Today my plan was to go hiking in the nearby forest and take my camera with me. I’m glad I changed my mind about the hiking in the very last minute, and decided to go cross-country skiing instead. It was a lot of fun!

DSC_0041 (2)

The first downhill slope on skis is always a bit nerve wrecking as I feel like a Bambi on ice, but after some minutes getting comfortable with the skis it starts to feel great. Especially when the ski trails are on excellent conditions, you can really enjoy the slide. It’s very easy to find skiing places in Finland, also in the capital area. There’s a good service called mSki, which tells in what condition the ski trails are. There are possibilities for both classic and skate skiing. You can also try the Nordic walking if you’re not into skiing.

DSC_0025 (4)

 

When I was young, skiing was all we did during sports class at school in winter time. Only if it would be below -25C or terrible snowstorm, we would have gymnastics indoors. At least that’s how I remember it. I was so fed up by the time the elementary school was over, that I swore I’ll never ski again! Luckily that promise didn’t hold forever. As an adult I bought skis, Peltonen, of course. And I rediscovered that skiing was a lot more fun than what I remembered. Of course, that is partly due to the voluntary nature of this activity nowadays, as well as the development of sports clothes and equipment over the last 20 years.. I’m glad to see so many 60 to 80 year old people skiing. And believe me, they wouldn’t bypass me if we were jogging, but on skis I have no chance to those pros who have been skiing before I was even born. And ladies, if there’s anything extra hanging from your arms, cross country skiing will give you the triceps of ballet dancer by the time winter is over.

 

DSC_0034 (2)

DSC_0036 (2)

Blueberry bushes sticking through the snow, reminding that eventually summer will arrive.. Forest is such a great place during winter, too! Beautiful landscape and fresh air, and hot sauna waiting when you get home from the skiing track… what more can one ask for a day off?!

DSC_0047 (2)

Ice, ice, baby!

DSC_0065 (2)

This winter the snow arrived late, but when it finally came we got plenty of it! It’s been around -15C – -25C (5 F to -13F) already for some weeks, so the lakes and the Baltic Sea have already frozen. It’s time to head to the ice and enjoy the sunlight reflecting from the pure white snow.

DSC_0009 (2)

We decided to go to Matinkylä beach, which during summer time is a popular beach for swimming, and turns into place of various winter activities as the weather gets colder. You can have a different experience of the shore by walking across the ice to the nearby islands for picnic. Many people also go there to do cross-country skiing, although in this case, cross-ice skiing.

DSC_0020 (2)

And if you’re feeling adventurous, why not try the ice swimming? Just pack your swimming gear with you together with a beanie and gloves, and take a refreshing dip in the ocean! I promise you that you don’t feel cold after coming out of the water, you just need to bear the cold when walking to the ice hole and have enough courage to get into the water.. Not for everyone, but there are Finns who do this daily and claim they never get sick because this boosts their immune system.

DSC_0022 (2)

The trick is that you have to get into the water up to your chin, if you only partly dip into the water you’ll feel cold afterwards. But don’t dive, keep your beanie on so that you don’t freeze your head.

DSC_0029 (2)

You’ll need the gloves unless you want your hands to be frozen to the railing! You can wear similar kind of shoes that are sold for snorkeling. Would you dare to try this without sauna?!

DSC_0044 (2)

Fatbikes are becoming popular in Finland, too. There’s a sport event called Rovaniemi150 which takes place in Rovaniemi city in Lapland, where people either run, ski or bicycle on fatbikes 150km. Mind you, it can be around -30C (-22F) cold there! Competitors have 2 days to complete the race. Perhaps it’s worth the challenge, if you get to see the northern lights while there. Personally, I’d choose the Kakslauttanen hotel instead, and check out the northern lights while warm and cozy in a glass igloo 🙂 That is definitely on my “to do”-list for homeland travels.

DSC_0013 (2)

Although the winters seem long and dark, during sunny winter days like today, you’ll actually need sunglasses. Fresh air, frost bites on your cheeks, snow reflecting the sunlight.. and a glass of warm juice from a café when it starts to get too cold. Life is good!

DSC_0049

DSC_0099 (2)

 

 

 

 

Peace of mind from national park

DSC_0030 (2)

DSC_0074Today I went hiking to national park called Nuuksio which is nearby Helsinki. You can reach the park best by own car, but it’s also reachable via public transport (closest buss stop is approximately 2km away from the Haukkalampi trails). If you arrive by car, you can use Haukkalammentie 32, Espoo in the navigator. And if you come by public transport, you can plan your journey with journey planner. You can visit the park rangers by Haukkalampi and get the trail maps (the trails are well marked with square shape colorful marks by the trails).

DSC_0068 (2)Although today was very cloudy and nature is preparing for the winter and snow, walk in the forest was good as always. I chose to hike the Korpinkierros trail (‘korppi’ means ‘raven’), which is about 8km long trail. There are also shorter trails available and you can also hike several trails if you want to spend the whole day in the forest.

DSC_0001 (2)I recommend to pack some snacks with you, as there are places where you can light camp fire and sit down for a while. It’s a nice experience to light the camp fire and grill some foord, or just warm by the fire.

The trails go up and down hill, some parts have duckboards. There is also a small island where you can camp over night. During the summer when the trees have leaves, it’s a nice hidden place where you can spend relaxing time swimming and camping. The island is connected to the mainland with a bridge.

DSC_0048 (3)DSC_0050 (2)

This time my goal was just to get some exercise, but there would have been still mushrooms available. I came across people picking Cantharellus tubaeformis (Suppilovahvero) and found some Albatrellus ovinus (Lampaankääpä) by the trail. Nuuksio is a great place for picking mushrooms and berries in the summer and autumn.

DSC_0005 (2)I’m still “old school” when it comes to exercising in the nature, I enjoy hiking peacefully. But Nuuksio is the place to be if you also enjoy a bit more extreme sports. I met several trail runners and mountain bikers too. I definitely recommend a day trip to Nuuksio, you can experience some great scenery!

DSC_0070 (3)