Throughout Finland there are signs celebrating Finland’s 100th year as a nation. There are special days, like the opening of the Presidential Palace for free guided tours and later opening hours later for some museums. Suomi Finland 100 logo appear all throughout the cities in different places and on various signs. Both campaigns and events are featured with the significant colors of Finland blue and white. While in Finland during this year long celebration there were these signs around and this is also a welcoming extension to others visit Finland at this time. This celebration recognizes the step towards become their own country and the bloodshed that was partaken in the establishment of the state of Finland within its roots.
Across the country of Finland the recent count was 3.3 million saunas in total with a total population of Finland being 5.5 million people. Saunas hold this deep past and connection to Finnish peoples. A place for bathing and relaxing. In private and public saunas, heating up one seems to bring people together.
Typical for public saunas there is a women’s and men’s sides to the sauna or taking of turns. There are multiple of these public saunas across Finland, though Ravenportin is said to be the oldest running public sauna in Finland. This one in particular had a cooling off space outside, for people to chat with one another and get some fresh air away from the steam. After a sauna there is a growing custom, when inviting over a guest for a sauna afterwards to provide a light meal or coffee to the guest. A food that could be served at this meal is sausage or makkaraperunat put up on or above the stove to cook for after the sauna time is done.
Rujaportin sauna is a traditional public sauna placed in the Pispala region of Tampere. There we were welcomed by Veikko, Hannu, Salla, and Junne sitting down prior to the sajna to have coffee together. While at Rujaportin I felt comfortable and it had a welcoming atmosphere. Later on in the evening more people came to enjoy the sauna. Ginger ale was the perfect drink for sitting on one the wooden benches outside cooling off and chatting with the other sauna goers. In and out of the sauna
While at Haapsaari we were able partake in a savusuana, a smoke sauna where smoke enters while the sauna is being heated, this was heated up for about 8-10 hours and was ready in the evening at 8 pm on into the night. Many people from our group ended our days in the sauna, jumping into cool lake afterwards. A sauna perched next to the lake is the best of worlds and an ideal spot for this hot to cold practice.
Coffee and a cinnamon roll is the best combination for talking with others. Coffee is offered at many of the places we visited throughout Finland, this drink warms you though also welcomes you into a place. After and before activities there is this offering, along with conversation. Morning, noon, or late afternoon this ritual is practiced by Finnish people, though also shared with others. Fresh bakery seems to be an important part of coffee time.
While at the pesäpallo game that we were invited to, we had a dinner prior to the game and later during halftime sausages were served and coffee was prepared with cake to go along with it. With my cup and plate underneath I carried it to the table towards my new found friend, we became friends after attempts at a batting speed tracker before the game started. Others sat talking and enjoying one another’s company.
While in Marieham to a quaint café supplied with a variety of doughnuts and pastries. I got the classic sugar doughnut with no hole in the center. When the Paloheimo fellows and I met with friends of Hilary at their homes we were served coffee along with assortments of desserts. There was this true feeling of friendship behind the coffee and we were able to sit down together, talking to one another about things known and unknown to us. Our wonderful hosts would offer us another cup of coffee.
In the 1960s there was a significant movement of people from the countryside to urban areas. Prior to the 1960s Finland was very much an agrarian society, though now this has changed in a sense to more technological development and innovative society. Even though a large part of the population lives in towns and cities, it turns out that many about 1 in 5 households own cabins. There is still this connection with nature and the countryside. A place where one can go to relax and spend time with family on the weekends or in the summertime. Heading out to Ruovesi, the vesi part meaning water, we got to experience for a few days what cabin life is about by the lake.
Finland the land of lakes. Throughout the country there are roughly 188,000 lakes covering the land, along lakes or the Baltic Sea are ideal locations for cabins or cottages to reside. There is the Lakeland of Finland is where a lot of these cottages rest and the region we visited while in Ruovesi.
Websites & Areas of Finland
Online promotion of the Finland is in full swing with the visit Finland website. Through pictures, videos, and descriptions it welcomes visitors to see what Finland is all about. One of the elements that it has for promotional purposes is splitting up the country into different destinations areas that may peak an interest for the potential visitor. These regions mention includes Lakeland, Lapland, Archipelago, and Helsinki. All these mentioned have a different atmosphere and feel. While traveling around Finland our group was able to visit three of the four areas mentioned; Lakeland, Helsinki, and Archipelago.
The first being Helsinki which happens to be the capital city of Finland and is home to one-fifth of Finland’s population. Helsinki is full of life and history, though this city was not always the capital city within Finland. Turku was the capital city though as a result accessibility for the ruling Russian Empire at the time the capital city was changed to Helsinki in 1812, a coastal city closer to that of St Petersburg. From thence on Helsinki grew and is the number one city population wise in Finland. Architectural the city was composed by Russian architects that helped to build up to what the city to what it is today and the look for the city as a whole. A symbol of the city, the white pillars of the Helsinki Cathedral rests on the top of the steps facing towards the harbor and the cobblestone square below. In the city there are various attractions and events going on throughout the year. In the square next to the harbor there is a tori (market) that is in full swing during the summertime with various food vendors and handmade items. Our group, after a ride out to the Sea Fortress Suomenlinna got to look around Kauppatori and this is where I picked up some lunch from a burger stand- Tip: eat under one of the tents for coverage from the seagulls that like to fly overhead and swoop occasionally.
Lakeland region is perfect place for summer cottages to rest along one of the many lakes that are in this region.
Archipelago area is composed of multiple islands and is considered the coastal region that rests along the Baltic Sea connecting the islands together through waterways. Hopping the islands with bridges and ferry rides that make them accessible to the public. When traveling to the coast to head onto the first ferry ride for our weekend trip to the Åland Islands I felt the cool sea breeze and heard the gentle lolling of the ocean waves greeting the shoreline. Åland Islands an autonomous region of Finland, meaning that although the islands are technically apart of Finland they are able to make their own laws. The official language is Swedish and it has its own flag that is red, blue, and yellow feature a cross as the other Scandinavian countries. The Aland Islands and the other islands in the Baltic makeup the Archipelago, though also the coastline of Finland. A major city that rests on this coastline area is the city of Turku, in the harbor there are multiple cruise ships coming and going across the Baltic to foreign countries and other part of Finland.
Up to the north towards the Arctic Circle is the iconic Lapland, where Santa lives and the sun lingers longer in the summertime and shorter in the wintertime. During the winter downhill skiing on the slopes, cross country skiing through the snow covered pine trees, or riding on a dog sled across the wintery landscape are popular activities for tourists. Not only is there the beauty of Lapland though there is also the culture of the Sámi people living in this region. These once nomadic people lived off the land and survived alongside their main source of life, reindeer. Reindeer were used for food, clothing, and transportation in the harsh wintertime region. Often times the significant traditional dress is highlighted when talking about Lapland, a royal blue color for a base with red and yellow design detailing the outfit. Today there are still descents of the Sámi people that maintain this lifestyle of raising reindeer. During the summertime it is green and fresh with the forest floor fielding cloudberries. Cloudberries flourish under the endless summer sun and are one of the berries that are picked often. Similar to raspberries in shape and the taste is quite bitter, the color is light orange. After gathering a basket full of cloudberries, jams and pies could be made of these berries of the Arctic.
Otava, 2005. Portraying Finland: Facts and Insights. Otava Book Printing Ltd, Helsinki.
Suomen Suanaseura, 2002. Let’s Have A Sauna. Helsinki, Finland