Finland and Cottage Life!

As some of you may remember, last year we purchased a cottage close to my childhood home in Finland. We had not been there for the whole long winter, obviously. The place was covered in a deep blanket of snow and had been living its own quiet life.

In the meanwhile it had not been quite as quiet for us. Loads of our friends are really interested about the cottage, some wanting to visit it, some not quite understanding why we even bought the thing. The concept of Finnish holiday huts is not really familiar for everyone. The cottage is now listed in Airbnb too!

Once the snow was gone, my parents took to enjoying the cottage, while we were stuck in Belgium. We ourselves got there last weekend, we also brought around our dear friend Maria, for whom it would be the very first time in Finland! I don’t know who was more excited, her to see Finland or we to show the country for her.

On a Thursday afternoon we headed off to Amsterdam to take a flight with Norwegian to Helsinki.  We arrived a bit past 11 pm, took our car and headed to Kirkkonummi to quickly visit my dear friend Miia and take a little boat engine out of her hands. After the detour, our road trip to the heart of Savo could begin.

We were treated to the beauty of the light of the Finnish summer night. I was tired but too taken by the beauty of the green scenery and the changing colors of the northern sky add to that the eagerness to finally get to see our cottage again, I just could not sleep! I never really grow tired of looking at landscapes passing by a car window.

The morning was well on it’s way when we finally pulled into our own little piece of paradise. I was home! My parents had been kind enough to make the beds for us so we could just crawl under the covers and let the coma take us away. Maria slept in the dedicated sleeping hut, as we dosed off in the main hut.

It had been an abnormally warm May in Finland and luckily we got to enjoy it too, once the sun poked our eyes through the curtains; the temperature had already risen above 20! I was brave, ran to the dock and dipped my toes into water. That send a chill up my spine and I was instantly a lot less brave. Waffle did better, taking a dip and a short swim in the cool lake. And what would I have been, if I did not follow in that, after all.

What a refreshing start it is for a day to have a short swim and freeze your toes off. Our delighted screams of pain and shock lured our dear Maria out of her bed too. She was happy to leave the swimming for us, tipping only a toe or two in the surface waters.

After we all were fully awake, we visited my parents and their new rescue dog Vili. We were fed well over some cups of coffee and got a tour of the garden before going to town to buy some food for the rest of our stay.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I was half way to heaven. The lilies of the valley were in full bloom, and our whole yard is covered in them. We have starlings nesting in two of the trees and their life is a joy to follow. Every evening we could hear a bittern making its peculiar noise as well as the cranes.  There is a certain sense of urgency in the swiftly passing Finnish spring.

Followed some lovely days of summer. We swam, bathed in the sauna (using the birch whisk in the sauna was something odd and new to Maria), ate, enjoyed the peace and beauty of the nature. Our new boat engine let us explore the further islands, with even more peace and quite on offer. I was feeling positively reborn when the time to go home came, all too soon.

Luckily, we could already start thinking about our next trip to Finland in the half way of June. This time Waffle’s parents are tagging along and we have a luxurious 2 weeks to spend there!

 

 

Advertisements

Wales – Hiking Snowdon, almost.

We woke up to a grey morning, on top of the windy hill where we had parked the previous evening. Even though the weather had been harsh in the night, our caravan had kept us nicely warm and dry. The cold air outside came as a bit of a shock once we opened the door.

The rain was looming around several corners, and we were planning on staying off of the mountain cliffs. Instead we were looking some options to take our way to valleys and hillsides. We had a small book with us with short walks which guided us to the small town of Beddgelert.

To get to Beddgelert we drove a short and pretty road trip down from the highlands to lush green valleys and up a river to reach this small, very very Welsh town.  Despite the slight drizzle the town managed to be very charming, lying there, surrounded by hills and green nature. We walked through it to get onto our hike further up the river, towards Llyn Dinas.

It was a relaxed stroll, we got to enjoy the serene lakeside scenery before starting to tackle the small uphill back towards the town. Up on the hillside there were some old copper mines, which intrigued us so, that we lost the trail. In our defense I must add, that the book we were following was not too clear in its descriptions…  Nevertheless we found some industrial history to enjoy at the mines and eventually had a wonderful walk and didn’t even end up too far from Beddgelert. As an added bonus, while we were approaching the village, we met some locals, who led us into some folklore.

The name of the town means Grave of Gelert, Gelert was a brave dog that got killed by its owner, a Welsh Prince. As the prince came home, he found blood on the cradle of his baby, so he came to the conclusion that the poor hound had killed the child. The prince then took to killing the dog and only moments later found the baby alive and a dead wolf in his house. The grave is now somewhat famous attraction, though Wikipedia is somewhat skeptical about the truth to this story.

The day was coming to an end, and we started moving towards our hike of the next day. Waffle was really, really looking forward to it, since we were aiming to climb up the Mt Snowdon. The Park4Night -app found us a sheltered parking spot near the town of Llanberis, and we were happy to plant our caravan there, under some maple tress. We figured it would be best to set off early the following morning, to beat the heaviest rush of hikers, so we set alarms at 8 and decided to be at the foot of the hill around 9.

The morning came and soon it was evident that starting the hike at 9 am was inevitably too late. The great weather and the fact that it was a Saturday had lured tons of people out of their homes. Every single parking spot on a 2 km radius from start of the hike was taken. To me, the steady stream of people making their way up the most famous peak in the whole of Wales was not so very inviting.

We parked somewhere, waay down the road. Waffle was mortified. We were browsing through the map, desperately trying to find a manageable way up. We were both slightly ill and massively out of shape so options were limited. Plus the idea of reaching the peak only to find 200 other tourists there, was putting me off.

Eventually, after vigorous browsing of the map, we had to give up. We were not going to climb Snowdon, not this time. Instead we locked our gazes to another mountain; Glyder Fawr, which is pretty close to the Tryfan, which we did for the starters.

It was not the spectacular peak we would have gotten with Snowdon, but a beautiful stroll nevertheless. We aimed for the ridge from Ogwen cottage, walked past the Llyn Idwal resting under the cliffs of Glyder Fawr. The trail is easy to walk on all the way to the top of the cliffs. And over there, the scenery is breathtaking. Turned out, we kind of got the Snowdon experience after all, since it is the neighboring peak, we got to enjoy the view over it. It was quite amusing actually, to see the steam train running up and down and the lines of people as black dots climbing the ridges.

The peak itself of the Glyder Fawr was very pleasing to climb. It is rugged with sharp rocks pointing to all different directions, a sight, not quite from this world. We scrambled up the peaks diligently and wandered forward on the ridge, until it came to a sudden, plummeting end. Our way down to the saddle between Gluder Fawr and Tryfan was probably the most strenuous part of this hike. The steep descent took the trail among  rocks and loose sand, and we were sliding and rolling the rocks ahead of us all the time.

It was slow advancing but eventually we were down the hill and rejoined with our little caravan. We had met some Wales dwelling Spanish people earlier and rejoined them too at the parking. We shared food and drinks, as a descent hiker does with another. And stories.

Our holiday came soon to an end. We drove away from the hills of Wales, camped in a forest full off bluebells somewhere in Luton. All hail park4night -app! In the early Sunday afternoon we plowed our way to the boat, through France and into Belgium. Monday would be there all too soon with work to do.

Luton, Bluebells, England

 

 

 

 

Hiking – Up and down in Wales

Previously: The road that led us to Wales…

…Had been long and tiering we had had our encounters with duct tape and and broken locks, bad and short sleep and small melt downs, but eventually we got here, under a mountain.

After the long drive we had been resting a bit on the parking, poured some coffee down with a hearty breakfast, while glancing up to the climb of the day. We would be making our way up the famous scramble up the north ridge of Tryfan. Apparently quite some people are enthusiastic about climbing it, Waffle included.

Quite soon we got to see what all the fuss was about. After only a short hike up, we reached the first big boulders, over which the trail was clearly meant to be walked, crawled or scrambled. The trail reminded us from the hikes we had in Scotland a few years back. Direction is straight up; if there happens to be an obstacle, deal with it.

 

That is pretty much how we continued for quite some time. Slowly making our way up, boulder by boulder. The trail was not easy to follow, in fact, there were plenty of trails to choose from, some of them leading to dead ends, drops or too difficult spots to get up from.

We progressed slowly. On top of the difficulty of the ascend we were both dead tired and my heart was not having any of it. So we were not focusing, I was sitting down every 15 minutes and we ended up walking back the same track multiple times. As did some other hikers, who were looking for a way up.

This is probably the first ascend that I was, at times, feeling afraid and insecure. Pushing through those moments, climbing up a rock you thought you possibly couldn’t climb, hanging over emptiness while searching a good spot to hold on to. Those give you the most amazing rush of happy!

It took as quite a while to reach the top, but as always the view you get as a reward is splendid. The hike up might have just been one of the prettiest trails I have done so far. Very entertaining and rewarding.

After gaining our breath back we continued down on the other side of the ridge. We lost the trail among the boulders a few times and and got stuck with some verticals. So the way down was by no means boring either. The final bits took us to a lake and some soggy grasslands before heading to the car park, where our noble home on wheels was waiting.

Then started the vigorous search for the next place to sleep. Since we have built a trailer, and so become trailer trash, Waffle has attained an application that suits the lifestyle. He has a Park4Night -app in his phone, which has an abundant amount of places to sleep for a night with your moving castles. The fabulous app took us up to the beautiful, beautiful highlands on to a remote parking spot with a lake. Not bad, we also were provided with a small army of sheep to guard our wagon.

The next day there were no mountains planned, since the weather seemed to be turning wetter. Instead we would be strolling over some minor hills and in the bottoms of pretty valleys. Then the following day, Saturday, we would be tackling the Mt. Snowdon. Maybe.