We are sitting in front of a camp fire in the middle of nowhere by the side of a lake writing the blog, life could not be better!
Our Finnish odyssey began only a couple of weeks ago when we got the ferry over from Stockholm to Turku, in the south west of the country. Our first stop was the town of Valkeakoski where we met up with good friends Jon & Heidi at her parents' house. We spent a brilliant few days cycling around the local area, swimming in the lakes, eating amazing barbeques prepared by Heidi's Mum & Dad, and playing games.
Jon and Heidi left in a bit of a mad rush.We were on our way to the airport with them when calculations were done that the remainder of the journey would need to be completed at an average speed of 140kph. Now we can rev the van up when required, but that is a bit much for our little engine so Jon bailed out into Heidi's parents' car and they sped off into the distance. Luckily they made it to the departure gate with 4 minutes to spare!
We were reading our Lonely Planet on Tuesday morning and read about the biggest smoke sauna in the world in the town of Kuopio. It turns out they fire it up once a week on a Tuesday evening, so without further ado we jumped in the van and raced half way across the country to get there! We had an amazing evening which began with a traditional meal in a loggers hut accompanied by an accordion player and enthusiastic local punters singing traditional folk songs. This was followed by the sauna, which we went in and out of numerous times jumping in the freezing lake in between to cool off.
From Kuopio we have been hopping between a number of national parks and nature reserves gradually making our way north. Finland has an amazing amount of parks and reserves with incredible infrastructure, so we have been in our element and making the most of these fantastic and free resources. Each park has well signposted and marked trails which are punctuated with camp fire areas, shelters and wilderness huts providing basic overnight accommodation. All of these have well stocked wood sheds which you can help yourself to so we have been enjoying lots of bbq's and benefiting from the warmth of the camp fires on the increasingly colder nights.
Having seen our first reindeer today we feel we have crossed the threshold from southern to northern Finland and our journey continues toward the Arctic Circle, Lapland and the Northern Lights.