Finnish Countryside Sights.

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Flag of Finland  , Southern Finland,
Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Now here is something strange we found out from talking to Finns. Many of them actually enjoy Winter and prefer it to Summer! Yes Winter is their time. Our hostess at the Bed and Breakfast said with a fond and dreamy expression, "Ahhh – We have the ice hockey, we have the skating, and we have the skiing. There is much more fun things to do in Winter!" and “Sauna is better in the Winter!” and "There are no mosquito's and sandflies in winter".

I can't imagine, when daylight is reduced to about  3 – 4 hours a day, snow is banked up all over the place and the temperature is around minus 20 degrees regularly, that you would prefer Winter to Summer? But part of the not so fond feeling for Summer is the rain. It was raining as she spoke to us about her love of Winter. Afternoon Summer rain just pelts down, making it almost impossible to drive and enjoy any sightseeing.

Having no night time too, is very hard to get used to in a Finnish Summer. There is no actual night at this time of year. Our bodies are not used to this and even if the curtains are pulled, we go to sleep when it is still light and wake up at 2.00 or 3.00 in the morning to full daylight and have difficulty going back to sleep. In summer the Finns take holidays from work, stay in lakeside cabins that, no matter how basic and rustic, all have saunas. They hike, fish, relax - and wait for their favourite time of the year, winter!.  With no cold weather to send them indoors, and no change between night and day, the young Finns party hard in Summer. There are music festivals everywhere and clubs and pubs stay open all night.  We have often been wakened by enthusiastic drunks throughout the night hours.

But I digress. Our next couple of days with the hire car saw us drive through picturesque countryside with impossibly bright green and yellow fields, contrasting against red wooden barns that often have a jaunty lean to the roof and walls. Everything is tidy and oganised. I don't believe in all our time travelling around the Scandinavian countries, we have come across messy farms or house yards. Neat colourfully painted letterboxes are grouped on the roadside, for the farms that are off the main road.

Our next stop in the Finland countryside was a UNESCO listed old wooden church at Petäjävesi. (I can put those funny dots above the vowels if I want to, as I have a Swedish keyboard on this new computer!) This church is a Lutheran church built in 1763 and is pretty much in the original state, particularly inside. It was listed as an example of how central European architecture style was applied to buildings made entirely of wood. Finland of course abounds with wood as a building material, being the most forested country in the world. 

Another historical site we enjoyed in rural Finland was in a tiny town called Verla. Here is preserved a mill built in 1872 to process wood into pulp board. It had at the time of operation the highest reputation for their product, which was used for book covers, cigar boxes and high quality cardboard. Outside of Finland, the finished product was sold to Russia and Central Europe. The processing plant was only closed in the 1960 's and it was only closed when the last of the workers who were mostly women and all in their 70's decided it was time. It was turned into a museum shortly after so the whole process and equipment can be seen and understood. We did a guided tour and found it fascinating to learn how trees were turned into cardboard in the late 19th century. Right in town, Verla also had some ancient stone age rock paintings dating back to between 5,000 and 1,000 BC. We had some difficulty with the site, there are no UNESCO signs either prior to or at the site. The ticket office for tours is located in the centre of the site and again has no signage. We wandered around for quite a while before finally asking in the wine shop where we needed to go. Once we had located the ticket office we were told we could not enter the building unless on a tour, no, there were not any English speaking tours. In the end, after some cajoling the ticket office girl offered to do the tour guiding for the next group which was to be in Finnish, but to include some English as well, hence we were able to report as above.

Our last UNESCO sites we chose to see in Finland were in fact markers of meridian measurement that form the Struve Geodetic Arc. Struve's Arc was the first extensive and accurate meridian measurement that could be used for determining the shape of the earth and the measurements took place between 1816 and 1855. UNESCO has listed the Arc so we visited 2 sites which were in quite isolated country areas, on dirt roads and then required a climb to find the markers. There were many markers originally however UNESCO have listed 34 points, stretching through 10 countries.

We had one night back in Helsinki, staying close to the airport this time, in readiness for our 3 flights the next day that would take us to our next destination of Iceland

 Travel Tip: Struve Geodetic Arc directions. The coordinates given (N61 55 36 E25 32 01) for the Oravivuori Marker at Korphilahti, do not take you to the entry point to the climb up to the marker. They do however take you close enough to follow the UNESCO signs, although the actual entry to the path is not easy to see.
The coordinates given for (N60 16 35 E26 36 12) for the Mustaviiri marker at Pyhtaa showed on our GPS as invalid. When we asked around the town we could not find anyone who knew of the UNESCO site.
The final point we looked for was Porlammi, near the village of Lapinjarvi. The coordinates given (N60 42 17 E26 00 12) actually agreed with the sign posting, and located easily. The spot to climb from however is not well marked, and located a couple hundred meters before the car park.

Footnote: Petajavesi Old Church, Struve Geodetic Arc and Verla Groundwood and Board Mill are all UNESCO World Heritage listed.
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