Finteresting Observations from Finland Thu, 25 May 2017 12:27:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Finteresting 32 32 Inside the Presidential Palace Thu, 25 May 2017 12:27:43 +0000 Finland is a small, young and Lutheran country, so there is comparably little splendour in the buildings that belong to its government. But it is the highest honour and dream of many Finns to one day be invited to the Presidential Palace for the traditional Independence party, where the president shakes the hands of hundreds of carefully selected guests. For the 100th birthday of the country, there was now a rare chance to get into the President’s Palace (albeit without the hand shaking) when it opened its doors to the public for a few days a couple of weeks ago. And of course many jumped at the opportunity, average queuing time was around 2 hours. We managed it in 1 hour 50 minutes on Saturday, just before the palace closed its doors again.

The Presidential Palace is one of the official residences of the Finnish president, and has a prime location in the middle of the city centre, overlooking the Market Square. The house was built in 1816 as a merchant’s villa on the site of an old salt storehouse. It was quickly turned into the residence of the Governor-General of Finland, and soon after Nicholas I decided that it should become the official Helsinki residence of the Tsar of Russia, and it was named the Imperial Palace. Rebuilding and refurbishing was carried out by the famous architect Engel (who built much of Helsinki’s nicer parts) in neoclassical style.

In the beginning, the house was empty for most of the time, only used on occasional visits of members of the Imperial family. In WWI and after, the palace was used for a variety of things, such as a Military Hospital and headquarters of the Executive Committee of the Helsinki Workers and Soldiers Soviet, before being prepared for the arrival of the chosen King of Finland. The King-to-be, however, was German and, given the political situation at the time, decided it was best to renounce the Finnish throne. In 1919, the palace was finally appointed residence of the President of Finland. Today, the president lives in a quieter neighbourhood of Helsinki, and the palace is mainly used for state visits and other representative functions.

I’m not an expert on architecture nor art, so I’m afraid I can’t say much about the interior and its value. To me it looked like a strange mix though: The entrance seemed to have been a newer addition, with the ugliest ceiling I had seen in a long time – it looked almost like a linoleum flooring stuck to the ceiling, and had a difficult to describe colour that darkened the entire room. Beyond it lay the kind of rooms you would expect from a palace – although when compared to the stately homes that can be found in the UK everything was newer, felt more impersonal, not like someone’s home.  I’m also pretty sure the marble walls weren’t marble, but just painted to look like it. There were expensive looking chandeliers everywhere, but not much else furnishing the rooms. A few paintings here and there, and some chairs and small sofas, but all in all it looked a bit empty. It certainly is the most protestant looking palace I have ever seen.

One thing I found quite charming was the gallery of First Ladies (and one First Gentleman) in the upstairs of the atrium. I didn’t notice portraits of the actual presidents anywhere (but then again, I can be horribly blind when it comes to paintings), which made it even more peculiar. I’m afraid my pictures aren’t up to my usual standard, because there were lots of other people and I didn’t have much time to wait for them to get out the way, but they do give a little insight into what it looks like inside the palace =).

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Waiting for Spring Sun, 30 Apr 2017 12:55:52 +0000 When I moved to Finland, I wasn’t too worried about the weather. Everyone assured me that, unlike the UK, Finland has 4 seasons. And since I like seasons it seemed like a good deal to swap the eternal wet and the feeling of having more seasons in a day than in a year in the UK for some harsh seasonal contrasts in Finland. Never had I expected that “spring” would only occur sometime in May and last for only a few days.

Last year, we had a proper winter in January. In February, there was mainly slush, which turned to rain and constant grey until the end of April. On 1st May suddenly everything changed: Temperatures jumped to 20°C to stay there for the next two months and the trees had sprouted leaves basically overnight. I was missing the spring flowers that typically prepare for warmer times: snowbells, crocus, followed by daffodils and tulips – at least central Helsinki doesn’t seem to have any of those. I think the first flowers I saw last year were bluebells some point in May. Enduring the long grey and dead period was hard, but at least the temperature seemed to slowly but steadily climb. Not so this year:

The first snow this winter came in the very beginning of November. Throughout November, there was actually quite a lot of snow, but then it got warmer again. It snowed one day and rained the next, so that neither did we have proper snow, nor safe ice and the streets were full of slush. It was miles away from the winter wonderland I had hoped for when moving here.

So after the failed winter, I at least hoped for an early spring, since it had been rather mild the entire time. I changed my window decoration to flowers and butterflies. The sports grounds that are prepared for ice skating during winter were unusable by the end of February, because it had got too warm. In late March, there were 3 days that were so warm that I ditched my woolly hat and considered changing from winter boots to regular. Our glass fronted balcony was so sunny, it was actually too hot to sit there. I planted various flower and vegetable seeds, knowing that they would be nice and warm in the sunny balcony during the day and I could take them in at night. The next day I woke up to this:

I nearly cried, but consoled myself with the thought that it wouldn’t last for long and was probably just a last little hello from winter, confident that the temperatures would continue to climb. Well, they didn’t. Throughout April, we didn’t make it much above 5°C and it was cloudy and grey the entire time, so my little seeds haven’t made it very far. Around Easter, it started to snow again. Although it didn’t stay on the ground, every second day or so there was snow coming down and sometimes we’d wake up to white streets. Yesterday, on the 29th April, it snowed again quite heavily. We had to go out, so I took some more pictures:

We have now had 6 months of snow. 6. Months. I expected this in northern Finland, but not here in the very south. This is 8 weeks before midsummer. In less than three weeks, in the very north of Finland the sun won’t set again, and still they have almost a metre of snow. Any holidays taken in Finnish workplaces from tomorrow count as summer holidays, and all that has been growing so far is the odd crocus and a few battered daffodils people had planted out in defiance. Tomorrow, everyone in Helsinki will be out in the park picnicking, because that’s what you do on the 1st May, regardless of the weather. And the forecast doesn’t show much improvement at least for the next 10 days, with a mixture of snow and rain forecast again for the 7th May. So if you have friends or family living in Finland, spare a thought for them during spring! At least for me it’s not the dark during winter that gets me (if you work a regular hours office job, you don’t get any light in Germany nor the UK either), it’s the lack of green during spring that I find hardest to endure.

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Winter Photography in Helsinki Thu, 09 Mar 2017 15:15:38 +0000 This winter, I participated in a photography course taught by local photographer Mikael Rantalainen. On multiple trips he taught us how to best photograph Finnish winter nature, and although there really hasn’t been much of a winter here, the picture outcome is quite incredible. The secret is to find an interesting bit of shoreline just before sunrise or sunset, and even if there are just a few small sheets of ice on the water it is possible to capture stunning pictures.

There were a couple of really cold days when it got below -20°C. The first of those very cold days are the best for photography, and we spent both of them outside for many hours. It really gets cold when you’re not moving much and just waiting for the perfect shot – or if you even have to lie flat on the ice to get a particularly good angle for your picture! But it is worth it, as this is the time when the cold of the air meets the relative warmth of the sea, which causes the water to rise as smoke on the sea. Since it was a particularly sudden drop this year, there was even so much smoke that it was difficult to still focus through it and get some decent shots.

We also went to take some pictures at Vantaanjoki and another place with small rapids, but since it never got properly cold for a long time this year, those pictures didn’t turn out quite so spectacular.

When going through the pictures it was amazing to see how different the colours turned out each day. Of course many of the pictures are photoshopped quite heavily (I tend to go over board with the filters, especially when I have found a new technique or filter and use it on pretty much everything until I get bored of it again). But it is clearly visible that on one particular day everything turned purple, the next day everything was blue, and sometimes orange and red.

On the last picture in the gallery, I accidentally added some northern lights – of course they are not visible during daylight hours (and not at all in the city anyway), but the sky on the original picture was a weird colour and when I tried to change it, it suddenly turned all aurora borealis on me. I decided to keep it, despite it looking a bit cheesy (not like none of the others look overly photoshopped…).

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How to Dress in -20°C Sun, 08 Jan 2017 15:07:25 +0000 Last Thursday and Friday we had temperatures of around -20°C. I am currently taking a photography course (pictures of this to follow soon), and it turns out these temperatures are usually the best for photography. So what do you wear if you have to spend several hours outdoors without moving around much? The answer is: many layers. Unfortunately the amount of layers you can put on hands and feet is somewhat limited by practicalities, so both were freezing cold after a short time. The rest of my body stayed quite toasty though with the below:

Clothing at -20°CAnd I just noticed, the picture is actually missing the thick skiing socks I put on top of the tights and socks, and of course big winter boots. Putting on all these layers makes getting ready to go out a pretty lengthy process, and you really don’t want to be needing a toilet while you’re out either. Also, you just look completely ridiculous in that outfit – Mr Always Right referred to me as Dark Helmet and I think someone took a picture of me on the bus, because I was just so wrapped up. And I feel like in all those layers you have the spatial awareness and dexterity of a two-year-old. I don’t care though, as long as I stay reasonably warm.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to dress up my camera accordingly, so on the second day it started complaining. I think the mirror had started freezing, and every time I switched the camera on the mirror jumped a bit. I was getting really worried, but luckily it seems everything is working fine again now that temperatures have gone back to around 0°C (which happened in an overnight jump of 20°!).

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Weekend Trip to St Petersburg Sun, 06 Nov 2016 17:20:52 +0000 Helsinki is surprisingly close to St Petersburg. At least I found it surprising. You can get there in just 4 hours on the train if you have a visa. Or you can take a very convenient ship that takes you there overnight to spend some time in the city without the need to get a visa in advance (for EU residents). This year it was possible to stay in Russia for two nights under this agreement, but rumour has it that the schedule will change next year and only one night is spent in the city when coming by ship. We decided to take the trip just outside of the busiest season at the end of September/beginning of October, to avoid the highest prices as well as big queues in St Petersburg. And we couldn’t have picked a better time to travel: The tickets for the ship were cheap, we found a fantastic and cheap Airbnb right in the city centre, the weather was gorgeous and ideal for long explorations, and not just the houses, but also the trees shone golden.


The journey

We went on St Peter Lines’ Princess Maria and shared a 4-bed inside cabin. The cabin was small but quiet. There are several restaurants on board, as well as a pub and a bar with stage and entertainment program. We had been promised a high-class ballet performance by another traveller, and despite not being fans of dance performances, we decided to stay and check it out. I must say, it was a bit too exotic for my taste: It started with loud dance music and masked dancers handing out vodka to the audience, followed by some very cheesy singing and squeaky flute karaoke, at which point we retreated. Food and drink on the ship were not pricy at all when compared to Helsinki and quite delicious – after we managed to decipher the badly translated menus and recovered from laughing fits.dsc_4352

We arrived in St Petersburg the next morning and got off the ship immediately, ready to explore. But Russian bureaucracy had different plans for us. Although the ship was almost empty, we had to queue for over an hour at passport controls, where 2 very dutiful officials per booth took between 2-10 minutes per person to check passport details and wave them through. Finally on the other side, a free transfer bus service from St Peter Lines took us right into the centre, to St Isaac’s Square.

Day 1

We only had small backpacks and decided to not wait until check-in time at our Airbnb, but instead to start exploring the city right away. We withdrew some money from the nearest ATM, which only issued us with 5000 rubels notes, and decided to scale the tower of St Isaac’s Cathedral. The lady at the ticket desk at first didn’t want to accept the large notes, but couldn’t tell us where we could change them for smaller ones, so in the end grudgingly took them. We climbed the stairs to about halfway up the tower, which is as far as you can go. From here, we got a lovely first overview of the city.


We then walked past the admirality building with its colourful autumnal park and crossed the Neva River. While we enjoyed lunch at a fancy riverside restaurant, clouds gathered and released a thick shower of rain. By the time we were finished they had retreated to build a dramatic backdrop to the skyline on the other side of the river. We walked to the Military Historical Museum of Artillery, Engineers and Signal Corps. I parted from my companions there, because there isn’t much that would interest me less. Instead I took a wander around this northern side of the Neva, where I found an impressive mosque, covered in blue tiles with intricate patterns. I walked north until I reached the Botanic Garden, passing through residential areas and shopping streets. As it was getting late, I did not enter but instead made my way back on a different but similar route. At the park next to Gorkovskaya Metro station, I found a lovely collection of sculptures depicting St Petersburg’s most famous buildings in miniture, placed on a simplified map of the city.dsc_3755

I picked up my fellow travellers at the museum and we decided to finally get rid of our luggage at the flat. It was located in a quiet side street only few hundred metres from St Isaac’s Square. Furnishings were simple, but modern and clean, and the house seemed very secure. We rested for a bit before heading out again to explore Newsky Prospekt at night and find some food. We found it in the shape of a self-service buffet, which sadly turned out to be very meaty (little warning to the Vegetarians out there: “Napolitana” in Russia apparently means with chicken and not much else. You can imagine my disappointment when I was handed the plate). In the end I found some mash and delicious chocolate cake for dinner. The cakes, and especially chocolate cakes, you get in St Petersburg are absolutely heavenly – and I daresay I’m pretty much an expert on both chocolate and cake.

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Day 2

Before our trip, I had already booked tickets to Catherine Palace online. So on Saturday we took a metro to Moskovskaya station, and from there one of the frequent (and unbelievably cheap!) buses to Pushkin. We tried to get off at one stop, but the lady selling the tickets – despite not speaking any English – wouldn’t let us get off, insisting that the next stop was the right one. She was probably right, but my companions had spotted a “Socialist Cafe” which they wanted to visit. But we didn’t want to cross the friendly lady, got off at the suggested stop and walked back. The cafe was dark, clean and looked a bit like an American Diner from an 80s film. We were hungry, but they weren’t serving any food. So the others settled for a coffee, but after some discussion it turned out that there was no coffee either, and we left.

Church in Pushkin

We quickly reached Catherine Palace, which, on first glance, seemed completely deserted – none of the dreaded queues we had heard so much about. We entered the courtyard, and there was a smallish queue waiting in front of one of the doors. There were no signs anywhere, so we had no clue what they were queuing for, but decided to join anyway, in the hope that it was the main entrance. After about 15 Minutes we already got in, walked past a number of souvenir stalls and joined another queue leading to the palace tour. When it was our turn, we were immediately sent back, because we had not handed in our coats at the cloakroom. Turns out, only tour guides (like the stout lady in front of us) are allowed to keep coats and bags in pretty much any attraction in St Petersburg.

Queue at Catherine Palace

Finally inside, we found massive amounts of gold. Wikipedia says that 100kg of gold were used in there, but it certainly looked a lot more to me. Several rooms were clad in this same style, quite differently to the British castles I’m used to, in which each room has a different colour and feel. Finally we reached the famous Amber Room, in which photography was strictly forbidden. At first glance, the room looked like it might just as well be covered in plastic. But looking closer, there were amazing details in the different colours of amber, as well as intricate carvings. Once through this room, we finally encountered some more rooms in other styles: One decorated with tightly packed pictures, frame on frame, another with beautiful hand-painted wallpaper.

After passing through this side of the palace, we had a quick look through the temporary exhibition, which was about fans. I like fans, they are useful and elegant, and here they had some absolutely gorgeous examples on display. Then we went to explore the vast parklands. According to our site map, there was a Chinese village which we tried to reach. At first, we marched off into the wrong direction altogether, then we somehow ended up separated from it by a fence. Since it looked like an ugly blob of concrete from the outside, we decided to leave it be and instead head for long overdue lunch.

We found it at an Italian Restaurant opposite Pushkin train station. It was a funny experience: All four of us ordered at the same time. One dish came out fairly quickly. When that person was almost finished we got two more, and a further 5 minutes later the last dish finally arrived. I also couldn’t get over the fact that my drink came in a disposable cup. I try to avoid unnecessary waste and felt really guilty for having ordered it. You may  think I’m exaggerating, but this certainly placed this restaurant in the bottom rank of my experiences in Russia. After lunch, we decided to take a train back to St Petersburg, to see something else than on the way out. While most of the station looked like a pretty fancy but otherwise normal station, all trains to St Petersburg departed from the platform opposite, which could only be reached by a detour through a row of cake-selling old ladies and crossing a street. A particularly daring woman decided to cross the road right in front of the train.


Back in St Petersburg we took another walk on Newsky Prospekt, this time in daylight. I must admit, I found it a lot more intriguing in the dark with lit houses. But we also discovered some lovely things here, like a whole orchestra of small musicians on a street lamp. We arrived back to the flat in the evening and our feet were killing us, so we decided to look for some dinner in the neighbourhood. I should mention that any restaurant and cafe we came across in St Petersburg had something special about them, like unique decoration that gave each place a charming personality. None of the cold, impersonal chain interiors that are now found across most of Europe. So this evening we found a small restaurant located in a basement, looking a bit dodgy from the outside. But we were hungry, and it seemed the only option still open, so we went in. Inside we found an Azerbaijani restaurant, warm and hospitable and filled with curious artefacts and wooden art. The restaurant owner didn’t speak a word of English, but apparently still very much felt the need to entertain his foreign guests: And he took his time. He took the first person’s order, smiled happily, said some words in Russian, took the menu and brought it to the reception desk. Then he came back to take the second order, and the same game repeated itself, until all orders had been taken. I had gone for an “Aubergine Shashlik” (luckily the menu had English names…) What I received was an entire, burnt aubergine, sliced open in the middle with a piece of pork fat jammed in. There was no sauce, no side, no frills – but I still preferred this restaurant to our lunch.

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Day 3

When I got up in the morning, I could hardly walk. I may not look like a couch potato, but I’m really not used to much exercise and we had been walking huge distances in the past two days. If you go to St Petersburg, be prepared to walk a lot, because everything is huge, any museum or palace visited will be several miles on your step counter. So this morning, we took the first break already in the posh department store Au Pont Rouge. Any pricetag in there was far out our reach, but it was interesting to browse the building, particularly the cosmetics department, which was mainly empty and white.


We then visited the Church of the Saviour of Blood. Behind the lengthy and not very appealing name is that church that looks like a gingerbread house getting high on multicoloured icing. I almost had to be dragged away from it when photographing the outside – so much to discover, so many details, so many colours! And the inside was no less interesting, with every inch covered in mosaics and paintings of saints and bible scenes. And of course gold. There’s always gold in St Petersburg.

We then continued to the Winter Palace at the Hermitage. In front of it, we had already discovered in the days before, the probably cutest carriage in the world was offering to take tourists for a ride. It looked like it couldn’t quite decide if it was still meant to be a coach or already a pumpkin again, and the fairytale princess inside me immediately wanted to take it home. We then started to tour the museum. Again a shocking revelation: Neither Mr Always Right nor I are particularly interested in art and old stuff in museums. So we decided to make this a game: The first floor of the museum inside the winter palace doesn’t just contain art, but also the stunning palace rooms, which are a lot more interesting at least to me. And we wanted to visit each one of them. You may think this isn’t a problem, but then again, you have no idea how huge this thing is. To give you a clue: we didn’t stop long in most of the rooms and it still took us around 2 hours to finish the floor. We also crossed off all visited rooms on our map, to avoid missing any out, since there is no one straight route going through all of them.

Pumpkin Carriage

And some of the rooms were really stunning and filled with wonderful details: a library clad in dark wood, a light flooded room with white and gold pillars leading out to a terrace, a room entirely kept in red with frilly gold ornaments and bird claws clutching a giant gem as door handles, a room hung entirely with huge paintings of dead or dying animals, a room that had so much gold I thought I was going colourblind, and in pleasant contrast a blue and white room with hardly any gold but instead beautiful stucco… Something that really stood out to me were also the beautiful examples of wood inlaying. Not only on furniture, like an unbelievably delicate bird on the side of – well, probably a chest of drawers or something -, but also in the parquet flooring. And lastly, we also had brief looks at some of the art, like a rather disturbing painted plate: Creepy old man sniffing young girl’s armpit while another creepy old man is holding her down.

Later in the afternoon it was time for us to go back to the ship. Again there was a useful shuttle bus leaving from St Isaac’s Square, and this time no queues at the passport control. And in the last sunlight, even the concrete harbour building began to shine in gold, like the rest of the city.

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St Peter Line

Airbnb property

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Linnanmäki Light Carnival Sun, 23 Oct 2016 09:33:16 +0000 It’s getting darker and colder every day, and winter is definitely in the air in Helsinki – but no reason to stay inside! Last week Linnanmäki celebrated its annual light carnival before the park closes for winter. Linnanmäki is Helsinki’s amusement park, and it’s a rather magical place: It opened its gates in 1950 on a hill north of Töölönlahti and is owned by a non profit organisation. There is no entrance fee and even some of the rides are free, including many for young children and a panorama tower, from which you can have great views over Helsinki. There are around 40 rides in the park, including a wooden rollercoaster that was already built in 1951, a scenic train that circles around the park, and (one of my personal highlights) mechanic horses that gallopp along their track through parts of the park. Linnanmäki is open from April until autumn and has a wonderful nostalgic fairground atmosphere.

I never took my camera when we went there throughout the summer, but here are some pictures I took at the light carnival:

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Golden October in Helsinki Sun, 16 Oct 2016 15:40:04 +0000 While I’m currently writing on a longer article about a recent weekend trip, here a few pictures of today’s little walk around Töölönlahti in central Helsinki. Apparently the autumn colours (ruska in Finnish) this year were more spectacular than usually in southern Finland, and in turn Lapland, which is normally famous for stunning colour displays, missed out a bit. I can’t verify the statement about Lapland, but Helsinki’s colours were certainly absolutely gorgeous. Before the last leaves are falling, I finally managed to get out today and take some pictures as evidence:

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Mökki life Sat, 10 Sep 2016 14:50:56 +0000 Finland is famous for its forests and lakes, and Finns love to enjoy their natural treasures by taking staycations. Finns also value their privacy, so they wouldn’t dream of spending their summer holidays in a hotel or B&B. Instead, they have a big summer cabin culture. There are around half a million summer cabins (“mökki” in Finnish) in Finland and almost all Finns visit one at least once a year. The mökki-boom started around the middle of the last century, when it became fashionable to own a small summer house somewhere remote by a lake or the sea. Not only wealthy families, but virtually everyone who could get their hands on a piece of land somewhere built one and spent many weekends and summer holidays in perfect peace out in the Finnish forests.


Up until today it is a big dream of many Finns to own a cabin somewhere nice and quiet. Many families still own a cabin, but there are also lots available for rent for those who don’t. Nowadays, they come in all shapes and sizes: From the very basic cabins without electricity and running water to mansion-like houses with several terraces and saunas. But there are a few things that they all have in common: No self-respecting Finn would build a cabin without sauna and fireplace, and a spot to chop and store wood. And if it is right by a lake or the sea, there will be a pier and a boat. A typical day at the cabin may include rowing on the water, picking berries, chopping wood, definitely having a sauna, and fixing and cleaning numerous things around the cabin. I have heard people refer to cabin holidays as a work camp.


Of course with so many cabins in the country, there are hardly any really remote cabins anymore. If you’re lucky, you have a small island to yourself, but can see a handful of other cabins on the lake shore. But there are also whole cabin villages that stretch far inland, with a walk of several hundred metres to the shore (unbelieveable!). But most of the time it is still easy to have your privacy. Not everyone is visiting their cabins at the same time – apart from the Midsummer weekend, when cities turn into ghost towns and everyone is heading to the countryside – and Finns are by nature a rather quiet people, so they don’t tend to disturb each other’s peace.


This summer, we spent time in different cabins. One of them was a big, luxurious, rented property not too far from Helsinki. It came with a huge lake to explore, and we rowed out in the boat. We tried to conquer one of the small islands, but it turned out there was another cabin on it, so we hurried back to the boat before anyone could see our intruding. We also fought our way through the forest, which was rather difficult. For some years already, it has been tried to let Finland’s forests go back to their natural state by not interfering nor removing dead matter. So there’s thick undergrowth, and in many places impossible to get through. I was hoping for glimpses of moose or flying squirrel in this wilderness, but unsurprisingly enough we didn’t see any.


The other cabin was Mr Always Right’s family cabin, a small, very basic and charming cabin, which has been accessible by road for only about 15 years. It is right by the seashore and about as quiet as it could get. When we arrived, we first helped to bring in the fishing nets and clean, smoke and grill the fish that then were our lunch, dinner and breakfast. In the afternoon, we went into the forest to pick blueberries. It turns out this isn’t free, as I always thought, but you have to pay in blood. We wore long clothing and mosquito nets, but it wasn’t much help – the mosquitoes ate every inch of me that they could get hold of. After one hour we had picked half a bucket and fled the forest as fast as we could. We then paddled around the area in the small rowing boat that belongs to the cabin, inviting even more mosquitoes to the foreign all you can eat buffet.

Back at the cabin, Mr Always Right chopped some wood (there was plenty, but he wanted to chop anyway) and we started to warm up the sauna. While we waited for it to be hot, we could observe an arctic hare in front of the cabin. Unfortunately, it was a bit shy, so I only caught its running backside on camera. Between sauna sessions, we went to swim in the sea, which was rather cold.


Since there is no electricity or running water in the cabin, the only way to take a warm shower is after having a sauna: There is a large water tank on top of the sauna oven, in which water is heated up during the session. Afterwards, this water is taken and mixed with cold water from the sea, and you have a bucket shower. Unfortunately, when Mr Always Right tried to open the tap of the boiler, it instead came flying off at speed, boiling hot water came sputtering out, turning the floor of the sauna into scalding hot soup. We jumped out of the room and tried to place a bucket under the tap, to catch at least some of the hot water, which enabled us to have a lukewarm wash.

We then made a tactical retreat into the cabin: It was beautiful outside, with the sun slowly setting in warm colours, but unfortunately so thought the mosquitoes. I started to count my bites, which was impossible, but a good estimate would have been around 70. So we sat inside, staring at the beautiful colours outside, scratching like scabby dogs, trying to hunt down the lone mosquito that had made it to the inside.


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