Glad to be back

Finland was… quiet. I almost wished I had a more stressful lifestyle so that I could appreciate the peace and quiet more. As it was, I was looking at my watch by the end of the weekend.

It must be said, Jessica and I were staying in a particularly quiet town.

Imatra was actually designed by Alvar Aalto. He must have been tripping at the time. In fairness, the town was designed for about 70,000 people. There are 30,000 people living there so the town has feels empty… almost desolate, some might say.

The town used to have a quite famous tourist attraction. The Czars of Russia would visit the waterfall there (and leave their names carved in the rocks). Now there’s just a dry riverbed thanks to the dam that has been built. The dam is opened once a week during the summer so the waterfall briefly returns.

So Imatra wasn’t up to much. But we did get out to Savonlinna, home to the beautiful Olavinlinna Castle, the oldest castle in Scandinavia. The weather was great and after viewing the castle, we enjoyed the local speciality of little fried fish. Ah, lovely.

With the exception of the castle, I was surprised by how modern most of the buildings in Finland are. They’re modern in that 1950s council-flat bunker kind of way.

I guess if you’re going to spend most of the year in darkness and snow, it doesn’t matter how your buildings look.

When we there, though, there was surplus of daylight. Gorsharn kept telling us how happy the people are now that Summer is here.

I’d hate to see them when they’re unhappy, then.

The Finns seem to be defined by who they don’t like (Russians, Swedes and Gypsies), a feast or famine attitude to alcahol and, of course, the ubiquitous sauna.

I didn’t get the chance to experience a sauna. I don’t think I need to make a return trip just for that, though.

The countryside was nice. Gorsharn described it as like "being in a painting". It was a painting with a rather dull composition. The trees and lakes were lovely but a nice mountain or two, or just a hill, a hillock even, would have been nice.

Eat your heart out, Holland. Finland is the true cyclist’s paradise.

Helsinki was pleasant; St. Petersburg on the Baltic. Before catching our flight back, Jessica and I took the time to stroll around the town and eat some reindeer sausage, fish and cherries.

See for yourself. You can pay a virtual visit to Finland right here by checking out the pictures I took. As good as, if not better than, the real thing.

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