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Expat Vagabonds "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindedness." Mark Twain

On the Road in Finland

FINLAND | Saturday, 22 September 2012 | Views [791]

Olavinlinna Castle, Savonlinna

Olavinlinna Castle, Savonlinna

After a fortnight's hiatus I am back behind the wheel of our teeny-weeny Nissan Micra.  Rentals and fuel, like everything else in Finland, are expensive, but a car is really the only way to get a taste of the countryside.  The roads are excellent and traffic is virtually non-existent as you might expect in a country the size of Montana with scarcely six million people.  

Continuing the "Ben & Jerry metaphor," if Norway is, say, Chunky Monkey and Denmark is Cherry Garcia, Sweden is plain old vanilla.  That makes Finland frozen yoghurt, fat-free frozen yoghurt.  There's nothing wrong with it, it's healthy even.  But there is little to raise your heart rate.  Or your curiosity.  Summer activities tend towards fishing, boating and swimming.  B-R-R-R!  Winter is a time for skiing - Nordic not alpine, and ice fishing.  Double B-R-R-R!

Finland is a flat country with too many lakes to count.  The skies are blue - unless it's raining.  The autumn colors are bright with golden birches and crimson maples.  It's a long way between towns and longer between tourist destinations.  There are only seven World Heritage sites and we are tracking them all down.

    Petajavesi Church, World Heritage Site

As difficult as we found the Norwegian language, Finnish defies comparison.  We have heard that it most resembles Hungarian.  Go figure!  Near Helsinki signs are in both Finnish and Swedish, which helped a bit.  But near Parikkala, only a stone's throw from the border, they are in Russian.  Many also speak some English, enough for us to get by.

The people, the true measure of a country, are attractive and friendly, with many blue-eyed blondes.  Too many smoke, a European thing, but most appear to be active and healthy.  Leiki hiking poles seem to be de rigeur among seniors, whether hiking the trails or trekking through town. 

 

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