OK so it’s been a while since I’ve written. I’m sorry 😦 I’ve been feeling very uninspired lately, due to a number of reasons – but mostly due to stress. Working on it, trying to get myself sorted, de stressed and happier so I can continue enjoying life! Anyway, finally got down to some simple writing as I’ve applied for a job with an amazing travel magazine and they wanted a summary of a country I had visited.
Here it is!
Finland in a Nutshell
Eat! – when in Finland you must try their staple Finnish food – the Karelian Pie (Karjalanpiirakka). This pastry is made of a thin rye crust and is filled with rice. Butter, often mixed with boiled egg is spread over the hot pasties before eating. Other staple foods include the Ruisleipa (rye bread made from sour dough), the Kalakukko (a pastry similar to the Karelian Pie but larger in size, and filled with small fish), Reindeer meat (not for Bambi lovers), and Leipajuusto aka. Finnish Squeaky Cheese!!! Herring and Salmon are also very common and popular foods in Finland. If you like berries you’re in luck! Finland is full of delicious bilberries in July and August as well as lingonberries (which are more tart than sweet). The Salmiakki, like the squeaky cheese is an acquired taste. This salty liquorish is very popular amongst Finns! For the chocoholics – you HAVE to try Fazer chocolate! This is the Finns own brand of chocolate and is absolutely delectable! It comes in different varieties and flavours, so prepare to do some shopping!!
Drink! – Finnish are the world’s heaviest coffee drinkers (kahvi), so if you like coffee you’ll have a very good selection available with lots of cafes and coffee shops scattered around the cities and towns. Alcohol is pretty expensive in Finland, with the state owned Alko being one’s sole choice for purchasing wine or anything stronger. If you like the Salmiakki, go for the Salmiakkikossu – the salty liquorish flavoured shot. The traditional Finnish beer, Sahti, is flavoured with juniper berries in addition to, or in some cases, instead of hops. The end product is a cloudy beer with a distinct taste similar to banana (due to the production of isoamyl acetate by the yeast during fermentation). Vodka is also popular, the most popular brands being Koskenkorva and of course, Finlandia Vodka! The Christmassy Glogi is a must if visiting Finland during the cold, dark, winter months.
This deeeeeelicious mulled wine is full of rich, spicy and citrusy tones and will make even the darkest and coldest night warm and cosy!
Wear! – Summers in Finland are pretty mild so t-shirts and shorts are doable, although bringing a sweater along and some longer pants would be ideal. Winters on the other hand are cold, cold, COLD, especially when travelling up north! Thermal underwear gives you additional comforts if spending longer periods outdoors in winter, as would two pairs of warm socks. Layers are very important, ideally adding a fleecy layer under your winter jacket. Thermal lined trousers are the best option but if you don’t have any available, put thick leggings on under your normal trousers to aid in the insulation of heat. Waterproof footwear is essential.
Beware! – Finns, although friendly and helpful, are generally also very reserved. Avoid affectionate gestures and touching (kissing and hugging) especially when meeting newly made friends. It is not the Finnish way – they prefer a firm handshake and friendly handshake J Also, living costs are pretty expensive here, especially when eating out! Punctuality is important! Buses and trains come exactly on time and the Finns are known for their polite ways and timely arrivals!
Introduction to Finland.
Finland – the deep north – known for her gorgeous Aurora Borealis, the midnight sun, steamy saunas, NOKIA, and being the home of the REAL SANTA and his reindeer!!! That’s right boys and girls! If you want to meet the big guy in person, this IS the place to be! With a hustling, bustling, colourful city scene in Helsinki and its neighbouring southern cities, to the vast, serene quietness of the wilderness, this beautiful country is made for all to enjoy – urban explorers as well as nature lovers will find what they are looking for here, and much more!
The Capital – Helsinki
This colourful harbour-side, Baltic city is vibrant and lively, with design being a really big deal here! Pastel coloured, gorgeous art nouveau buildings line the streets in the old city, and pretty tree lined squares and gardens are ample: Ideal resting places when walking around Helsinki city during mid summer season. Helsinki is in fact an archipelago and consists of over 300 islands, the most popular being Suomenlinna – the Fortress Island. An array of budget accommodations is available, especially in the form of hostels and guests houses around the city and although eating out could be quite costly, a number of cafes and small eateries do serve some great local food and drinks at affordable prices. Spending at least a couple of days in the city would be essential when travelling to Finland, just to stroll through the gorgeous streets of old Helsinki and visit the neighbouring islands. A walk to the pretty harbour is a must do, especially when the market is open (Mon-Sat 8-16, during summer season also Sundays 10-17). This pretty market is full of traditional foods and hand made local crafts and is an ideal place to get some great souvenir shopping done whilst in the city!
The Aland Islands are a region of Finland that consists of an archipelago lying at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia in the Baltic Sea. The people here speak Swedish and it is quite literally the sunniest spot in Northern Europe during the summer season! This makes the Aland Archipelago perfect for spending summer afternoons at the beach, getting some sun and enjoying the idyllic island setting. A number of ferries leave to the islands from Helsinki, as do a few regular flights, so it is quite easy to get there!
Although most of Finland is covered in lakes, this particular part of the country is more water than it is land! A maze of canals, rivers and lakes passes through islands of thick, lush forests creating a place of beauty and immense quietness. Renting out a cottage in this region is a must for those seeking to bond with nature. Kayaking and paddling are a fun and adventurous way of getting around the vast waters, although inland cruises are also available, for the less active. Visiting the cities of the area – Hameenlinna, Joensuu, Kuopio, Tampere and Savonlinna is a great way to start before heading towards the quieter areas of the country.
If this place could be described by one word (other than “COLD”), it would be “Magical”. The Finnish Lapland is a real life, bonafide winter wonderland. It is the home of the indigenous Sami people, as well as the best place to catch a glimpse of the elusive and eerily beautiful Aurora Borealis (during the fall-winter season). Cross country skiing is very popular around here, as is the ever so fun husky sledging and reindeer riding! Yes, you can actually go for reindeer rides and learn how to sledge with the huskies on a genuine husky farm! Lapland is also the home of Santa Clause! Everyone knows, the real Santa is Finnish! Although it is well known that Santa does live in the Finnish Lapland, nobody really knows the exact location of his home. Best bet at finding him is to get to his Rovaniemi (aka. Lapland capital city) office for an official visit where he’s available to greet visitors all year round! You can take photos with the super friendly, charming Santa himself, but be warned, they aren’t cheap! The Lapland is also a great place to try out some amazing saunas! Are you brave enough to jump into a frozen lake after a steamy session??
Capital City: Helsinki
Main Religion: 73% Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland
Main Language: Finnish and Swedish – English is widely spoken, especially when visiting the larger cities such as Helsinki, Tampere, Rovaniemi etc.
Telephone Code: +358
Time: GMT +3
Emergency Number: 112
Finland Visa Information
Visiting Finland may or may not require a VISA, depending on which country you are from. If travelling to Finland from the EU or from countries making part of the Schengen Area no VISA is required. More VISA information can be found in the link below:
Known as a land of four seasons, each season is actually very distinct in Finland. Summer is warm and bright, boasting temperatures as high as 30 degrees Celsius in July. Winter, on the other hand is cold and snowy, with temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius being not uncommon in many areas of the country! The average temperature in Helsinki in July is +17°C and in February -5,7°C. Of course, the winter temperatures in Finnish Lapland can be much lower. Fall in Finland, is absolutely beautiful with an amazing array of red, yellow and orange colours adorning all the trees!
Random Facts about Finland
- Finland is the most sparsely populated country in the European Union, with only 16 inhabitants per km².
- Every October 13th, the Finnish celebrate the Day of Failure! The ceremony was initiated in 2010 and celebrates bad news and ill-fortune as a way of learning for the future.
- There’s over 187,888 lakes within the territory of Finland, the most of any country in the world. There is also a total of 179,888 Finnish islands to explore!
- Weird Sports lover? Visit Finland!! Home of the “Wife Carrying World Championships” and the “Air Guitar World Championship” – this country’s quirky activities are likely to raise eyebrows! If you’re a more traditional type, you could always check out skiing, snow boarding, cycling, trekking and kayaking!
- Finland – where “Angry Birds” was created! That’s right! The Finns have created a bunch of cool things including the sauna, the Molotov cocktail, ice skates, NOKIA and SMS!
- There are no public payphones in Finland!
- Children do not go to school in Finland until they are about 7 years old!
- Heavy Metal – Finland’s favourite music! World famous acts like Nightwish, Lordi, and Children of Bodom are all from Finland!
PS. Photos shared in this article were in NO WAY taken by me! I found them on Google. I know, I know – shabby! But I was a crappy photographer when I went to Finland! So this is the best I could do!! I promise, every review I will write from now on will feature ONLY MY PHOTOS! 🙂