Last autumn, I did my first multi-day hike of the St. Olav Waterway – together with my friend Rania, we completed the first section of this pilgrimage trail from Turku to Korppoo. Now it was time for the second part: continuing from the edge of the Finnish archipelago to the Åland Islands! And what a beautiful trip it was: in the most perfect Finnish summer, this time with my friend Eva, we hiked for a few days amidst the rugged and wild beauty of Åland – spectacular views, the scent of strawberries in the air, ferry rides, wild trails through the forest and along the rocky shores – it was truly the most stunning part of the trail so far!
I’m not gonna lie, Midsummer always gets me. After all these years, and being super content with my Finnish life, the FOMO is heavy around Juhannus. For us foreigners, it can be a tricky time. We don’t have the strong traditions, the family mökki, the associations with Midsummer, the stories of our youth. It doesn’t have this presence in our mind and calendars, so by the time we notice that it’s midsummer time, cabins are unavailable and rental cars all booked up. While last year was particularly difficult for me, I’m more than happy with the plans for 2020, just getting out of the city and being away, just for a little bit, taking a deep breath and start to actively make my own Midsummer memories.
The traditional Mayday celebrations around Vappu start on day before, on April 30th and is something everyone should experience! It’s probably the biggest street party you’ll see, and it’s the closest Finland comes to a carnival. Things are different in 2020, but despair not! This post includes a list of delicious Vappu options.
While yes: my main obsessions during these weeks of quarantine so far also has been “Tiger King” on Netflix (I know, revolutionary), which is seriously just so crazy, I am very much hooked on all the corresponding memes as well and it doesn’t feel like a healthy pastime. But here we are. So I put together a list of more rewarding things to spend your time with.
Sauna and Finland really stand for each other, it’s probably one of the things that people first associate with Finland, yet there are so many question marks from visitors and new locals about Finnish sauna culture! It took me some time, in the beginning, to really appreciate sauna and learn all about it, but I have come to really love it. My goal for this year is to create a weekly sauna ritual for myself, and really feel the benefits from it. Here’s my take, my favourite sauna places, and my sauna essentials.
Seaside walks along the Helsinki or Espoo coast are a very popular weekend activity. Going for a long walk on a beautiful day, being out in nature, soaking up some sun and getting in some fresh air, and rewarding yourself with a lovely lunch or afternoon coffee and bun brings out many people – no matter the season. Both in bright winter and warm summer days attract lots of people out to these local gems. Save the map on the bottom, and plan your next weekend outings!
After all these years in Finland, there are still some things that I always wanted to do and that just haven’t happened. I feel like 2019 was a pretty lazy year in that regard to it’s time to step it up! Maybe you find some inspiration in here as well, for trips, things to do, stuff to see and more.
Fiskars has been recommended to me ever so often over the years, as both a lovely summer and a delightful winter destination for a day trip from Helsinki. About an hour drive west of the Capital, snug around Fiskars river lies this stunningly picturesque village, that is also home to the famous company Fiskars that produces the uncanny orange scissors, knives and so forth; and the Ägräs Distillery which is known for its nature-inspired spirits. Streets lined by red brick houses, a bit of old industrial charm and gorgeous nature around it, Fiskars managed to make me thoroughly happy and finally got me excited for winter and Christmas.
It’s been great to see the second cycle movement grow stronger. In Finland, the recycling culture has always been active and present, and it shows from the re-use mentality in any kind of consumer goods all the way to repurposing buildings rather than new construction. Second-hand shopping is widely popular and encouraged, and possible both online or offline in stores. Here are my favourite tips for second-hand shopping in Helsinki, both in-store and online.