Thursday, 1 September 2016

Visit Finland


Every now and then an email will land in my inbox that will make me think that it must have been sent to me by mistake... so when an email from Visit Finland popped up, inviting me on week away, exploring their beautiful country, along with 4 other travel bloggers, this was definitely one of those moments! 


For those of you that know me, you will know when I'm not working in London, or training in the gym, normally you'll find me hiking across Wales with my partner Jon, or on a surf trip somewhere, chasing waves! Anything active and outside, you'll more than likely find me there. Finland has been one of the Nordic countries I have always dreamt of visiting, made up of 70% woodland, 20% water and 10% everything else, it couldn't be any futher away from our life here in London, and closer to the lifestyle we left and long for back in Wales.

Only a 3 hour flight from London to Finlands capital Helsinki, it made me wonder why I haven't made this trip sooner! I worked out that I could fly to a place as incredible as Finland in less time than it would take us to drive back to our weekend surf spots back in Wales! And with flights only costing around £84 (amazing I know) What we pay on patrol, is no different to what we'd pay to fly to another country! It's easy to forget when you live in England, how close we are to so many incredible countries, and this trip definitely made me realise how I really need to start making the most of it! I don't think anything I write will really do justice for just how incredible our trip to Finland was, it was honestly one of the most beautiful and peaceful places I have ever been lucky enough to visit, and I can't wait to return again soon.

We arrived in Helsinki after a short flight, and headed to our hotel Klaus K to drop off our bags, before an afternoon exploring the city, and a quick lunch stop at Hotel Lilla Roberts Resturant - Krog Roba. The first thing I noticed about Helsinki was how calm it was, so different to any other city I have visited before. It automatically made me feel at home, and with Finland having over 180,000 (yep, one hundred and eight thousand) lakes, and almost as many islands, we never had to walk to far to be at the waters edge.

For our first evening in Finland we headed to one of Helsinki's most popular restaurants Bronda, and boy let me tell you, this had to be one (if not the best) restaurants I have ever visited. It was literally incredible! We all sat down for an evening to try out their incredible tasting menu, which consisted of 8 courses, showing us the large variety of everything their menu had to offer. It was safe to say we didn't want the evening to end! I've done a full post on Bronda which you can read here. (the food was just too incredible not to share with you!) If you are ever in Helsinki, the tasting menu at Bronda is an absolute must!

The next day we drove across Finland and started our journey over to Kimito, for a 10k cycle across the Island. Jon has tried so many times to get me to go on bike rides with him back in England, but it's never been something that has really appealed to me, but cycling in Finland, now this was a completely different story! Not only was the weather amazing, the landscape and nature that surrounded us was just incredible. We even had a family of deer join us half way through our ride! I've never really thought about hiring bikes when I've been travelling before, but now I couldn't recommend it enough! We then headed to the Western Garden for Lunch, a rustic, beautiful home style kitchen, completely sufficient, living off their land, and all the herbs and vegetables growing in it. 

We then spent the rest of the afternoon in the Kasnas Peninsula, where we headed to the Archipelago National Park, to visit the Örö Fortress Island, an island that has been closed to the public as a military fortress since the Russian era. It was incredible to be able to visit a place that would have perviously been off limits to us. We then jumped into our boat taxi, as we set off for an evening at the Bengtskär lighthouse, learning about it's incredible history and meet the people that now call the lighthouse their home. In the summer time in Finland, they get to enjoy the incredible 'midnight sun' where it stays light until around 1am! Meaning we had so much more time to explore and really enjoy everything Finland had to offer us, without having to fit everything into a 8 hour daylight window. 

After an evening at the lighthouse we heading over to Hogsåra Island, where we spent the night at Villa Cecilia. We arrived around mid-night, but with the sun still shining, it was hard to think we should be sleeping. The next morning we headed to the incredible Farmors Cafe for one of the best breakfast spreads I've ever seen. One thing you will quickly learn about Finland is how incredibly self sufficient they are, living off their land, and only using things that are local to them, rather than importing it. The cafe was filled with all hand made and local fresh foods, giving us a real taste of their what their everyday diet looks like, and I think it was safe to say, we could of all happily eaten there for the rest of our lives! After breakfast we hired out some kayaks and stand up paddle boards, to explore the nearby shorelines. I've never been in sea so calm before, so it made it easy for all levels of our group to get out in the water, and feel confident exploring.


We then headed to Storfinnhova forest village for my first Finnish sauna experience, as we tried their granite-smoke-sauna, built deep underground. It was incredible seeing how they had adapted the natural forest creek, and turned it into a natural eco sauna. After our 2 hour sauna experience, we ending the evening with dinner in the Storfinnhova Knights Hall, followed by an night sleeping in the beautiful tree top houses, deep in the forest. This had to be one of my favourite places I have ever been lucky enough to fall asleep, feeling completely cut off from the real world, with nothing but the sound of the forest creek, and wildlife as our background music.

Waking up the next morning above the trees was pretty surreal, but realising it was our last day in Finland, made it ever harder for us to want to leave! But thanks to the mid-tnight sun, it meant we had one last jam packed day ahead, before we flew home the next morning. We said goodbye to our beautiful tree top houses and set off to the Mathildedal ironworks village, looking at some of the villages history and explore it's alpaca farm and mill. We then headed to Kyläkonttori café, for a quick coffee break, and to taste some of the incredible sweet treats by Ada Bakes (No trip to Finland is complete without trying one of her creations!)

Afterwards we headed to Teijo National Park and Nature Centre. This was my first experience visiting a National Park, and boy was it incredible! Endless, untouched woodland, full of wild blueberries growing everywhere you look. Our park guide took use to an opening in the forest and explained how not enough people take time to slow down and really take in what's around us. We then all laid down in silence for 9 minutes, just listening to the beautiful nature that was surrounding us. Afterwards we hired out some row boards to explore the nearby Islands, before heading to Mathildedal Brewery and Bakery, to sample some locally brewed beer and bread. 

We spent our last evening in Kirjakkala, for an evening of wild swimming in the nearby lake, then warming up in the sauna, and repeating until the sun went down. It was crazy how much we managed to fit in and see, in just 5 days! But I still can't help but think we had only seen just a  small percentage of the incredible things that Finland has to offer. Having over 180,000 lakes and just as many Islands, it makes me excited to see where my next trip to Finland will take me! A special thank you to Visit Finland for having me, and the incredible girls I got to spend the week exploring with. For all info on planning your own adventure to Finland, head here.

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11 comments

  1. This place looks like a lot of fun ! Love the photos too !

    Sara
    www.thecrimeofashion.com

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  2. Wow I'm so unbelievably jealous! What a fantastic opportunity and it is unreal how close we are to other fab countries. The photos are gorgeous!

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    x

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  3. Gorgeous photos - I've always fancied going to Finland one day. I think you've captured its beauty very well here :) x

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  4. You have a nice weblog over here. I just wanna say thanks for all the interesting stuff on it. I’ll follow your weblog if you keep up the good work!

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  5. Your photographs are a visual definition of "wanderlust" <3 Finland is definitely on my travel bucket-list :) Thanks so much for sharing your inspiring adventures. Cheers! ^^

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  7. Lovely photos! <3 Hoping to visit Finland someday ^^

    Classes A to Z

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  8. Your style is nice!! <3 looks like u had a great time! would loved to visit finland oneday after reading your post :D

    marisa - summerinmarch

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  9. Such a beautiful journey by you :)
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  11. I like the nature of Finland so much. Looking forward to visit this beautiful country.

    Megan Petrich

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