For the past week we’ve had quite a snow blizzard in Finland. Even here in the southern Finland we’ve had a chance to enjoy such snowy landscapes that you would normally see further north.
The lakes and the Baltic sea is frozen. This view is from Lippajärvi lake in Espoo. It was -20C and the snow was sparkling and crunching under our shoes. It would have been better to have snow shoes on!
Small river is still open even in -20C.
Trees are covered with snow.. there were paths made by deer. Some had even come by our house during night to find food.
You can see how low the sun is even during mid day. Luckily the darkest time of the winter is already over, the day is slowly getting longer and even in Utsjoki the sun has risen above the horizon for a couple of weeks already.
After a walk in winter wonderland and enjoying the crisp and frosty air, it was nice to take a cup of hot tea and enjoy Shrove bun, ‘laskiaispulla’. This is a special type of bun which can be found in the cafés and supermarkets around January-February. It’s filled with whipped cream and either by almond filling which resembles marzipan or then with strawberry or raspberry jam. Both flavors have their supporters.
In July we did a round trip in the eastern part of Finland, and drove through towns like Mikkeli, Savonlinna, Imatra, Punkaharju and Kotka. All very nice places to visit during the summer and the eastern part of Finland is famous for its sunshine.
On the way home we stayed one night in city of Kotka in a place called Kartanohotelli Karhulanhovi. We didn’t stay at the manor house but one of the guest houses, which we actually got all to ourselves including kitchen and the friendly staff even offered to heat the sauna for us, luxurious! We also enjoyed the art exhibition inside and outside of the manor house. (This is by the way not a paid advertisement, we just genuinely liked the place so much that I want to recommend it to you too!)
After a good night sleep and delicious breakfast, it was time to find Valkmusa National Park. Valkmusa offers an easy 2-4km hike in beautiful swamp scenery.
Valkmusa immediately became one of my absolute favorites of the Finnish National Parks. The duckboards were in good shape and the nature was absolutely stunning. There were simple benches along the way where you could sit down and enjoy the scenery. I’m sure you would be able to see elks and perhaps even bears if you stayed there long enough! We didn’t spot any animals this time.
Cotton grass was blooming and cranberries and cloud berries were growing alongside the duckboards. Seeing the cranberries and smelling the stunning scent of marsh labrador tea flowers took me right back to my childhood when my family was living in a house nearby a swamp. My Mom used to pick the cranberries and make whipped porridge. I loved hiking in the swamp as a child, it was exciting to walk there and try to watch out for the bog eyes. Back then there were no mobile devices so getting really stuck to a bog eye would have really meant trouble! I remember pulling my rubber boot out of the peat many times and walking home with a wet sock..
Valkmusa is really a hidden gem that not too many people know about. I highly recommend to visit it, it’s only 1,5h from Helsinki and you can visit the beautiful city of Porvoo on the way.
The first snow has already fallen on the ground in Finland and clocks have been set to winter time (1h difference to summer time). Although I love autumn and snowy winter, I don’t ever quite feel ready for the winter… I thought I’ll make a visual trip back to summer, join me!
This year summer was exceptionally fantastic in Finland. We had an early start when we had summer temperatures already in May. This made the water in the lakes and rivers warmer than usual. I did remote work from the lake house and it was lovely to take a swim in the lake in the middle of a working day.
We sup paddled along the river Tainionvirta a few times. Lots of waterbirds and this year especially whooper swan families.
Air temperature was around +30C, and not even a breeze of wind! The water was +29C so it was very tempting to jump off the board and swim, which we of course did!
We like to paddle along the river Tainionvirta because there are a few places where you can easily land and call for a pick up. Because our sup boards are inflatable, they are easy to pack for transportation.
After enjoying the river scenery, it’s nice to relax at the lake house and watch how the sun colors the horizon. Below is a view from July evening. Every evening the nature paints a new beautiful view! Put Finland on your travel bucket list for next summer, you’ll love it!
Autumn is here and ‘ruska’ is at its best at the moment. Ruska is a special name for the beautiful colours that emerge in the nature when the plants prepare themselves for winter.
Last weekend I went for a hike in the Nuuksio National park, this time around Sorlampi. I had read in advance that the trail would be approximately 5km but I think I ended up hiking for more than 10km. Probably I didn’t pay attention to the trail marks while admiring the colourful nature..
I started my hike in Espoo but at some point of time the sign boards pointed to Helsinki.
I feel the bright yellow, red, purple etc. give a lot of energy to the autumn days. This is definitely needed as the daylight time is getting shorter as winter is approaching.
I love the four seasons in Finland, the nature keeps continuously changing. All seasons have their unique character.
Make sure you put Finland ruska time on your travel bucket list! Nature is beautiful in the capital area but many people prefer to visit the northern part of Finland, Lapland, to experience ruska as well as the Northern lights. We experienced amazing Northern lights just a few days ago all over Finland, the sky was lit with green flames and the next day social media channels were full of photos of the mesmerizing lights.
In the beginning of July we did a day trip to Leivonmäki National park. It’s a large forest and lake area about 2 hours drive from Helsinki, Finland. We decided to hike the Mäyränkierros trail which is a circular track that you can hike in about one hour.
The forests was quite impressive place and the hiking tracks were in good condition. The capital area has also many forests where we go for hike, but there you can almost always hear distant sound of cars somewhere. In this national park the silence made the place enchanting.
Seeing “beard moss” (‘naava’) grow on a tree is a guaranteed sign that the air is pure, as these lichen don’t grow in any polluted areas. They really do look like an old man’s beard don’t they?
The trail had also duckboards through the more damp swamp areas. It was nice to have a lot of variety in the scenery. The trail passed also several small lakes.
Forest offered also these tasty treasures, cloud berries (‘hilla’). It’s easy to understand where their English name comes from, because they do look like little clouds. These berries are highly valued in Finland and a traditional way to enjoy them is to eat them with “Finnish squeaky cheese”, which is specific kind of cheese made from cheese curd which is processed into flat-bread like cakes. The cheese makes a squeaky sound when you bite it.
The forest also offers a glimpse into the history. There are glacial erratic, rock formations from the ice age.
I was hoping to hear the nightjar (‘kehrääjälintu) singing, this national park is among the most significant territorial areas of this bird. Its singing resembles the the whir of a spinning wheel. Maybe next time!
Last weekend we left the lake house quite late in the evening. When we drove by some fields, I almost couldn’t believe my eyes. There were tens of whooper swans! Those are the national birds of Finland.
During spring time when the birds return from the south they gather to the fields to rest and to eat. I had never before seen so many of whooper swans in one place!
I counted there must have been around 50 swans altogether. Usually you see these only in pairs, swimming at a lake. The birds stay together for a lifetime once they have chosen their significant other, and they return to the same place to nest. In Finnish the name is ‘laulujoutsen’ which actually literally means ‘song swan’. The name comes from the “singing” that the birds do when they fly. If you have never heard it before, you can listen to a recording here.
It’s that time of the year again… The flowers in the Haaga Rhododendron park are blooming!
Last year when I visited this place it was near mid-summer, but this year due to the early and warm summer start the flowers are already at their peak.
If you are visiting Helsinki, I definitely recommend that you stop by at the park. You can find it at Laajasuontie 40, Helsinki. Here’s more information about the park.
People are saying that this year the blooming isn’t as lush as last year but I don’t know, looks pretty colorful in any case!
Today I took a walk to the Suomenoja bird reservoir to see if there are already a lot water birds nesting. It definitely looks promising! There’s going to be an event on 7th May between 10am-3pm, so if you are into watching birds and nature photographs, it might be a good idea to visit!
It’s an early Spring, snow has melt away but the green leaves and grass is yet to come.. Still, even the landscape is quite bleak, there’s beauty in the details.
The bed of reeds is gently moving with the wind.
Dried flowers remind us of last summer.
Catkins with their soft fur like tiny little kittens climbing on the willow.
Aspen with beautiful details, looks almost like a painting.
Birch tree having buds, ready to bring the green shade back into the landscape.
And coltsfoot peaking through the ground, reminding us that sunny summer days are almost here! Enjoy the Spring….
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.