Autumn In Our Finnish Paradise

October came, and like many Finns, us too needed to get to our summer cottage to make it ready to face the harsh months of winter.  Our journey was perhaps a little longer than most. The route went first by car from Belgium to Bremen, Germany and then an early morning flight with Ryanair to Tampere, Finland and again further by car to the cottage.

Rough journey by any standard, but as we were approaching the small Pirkkala airport in Tampere the tiredness was swiftly swiped aside. Pirkkala must be one of the prettiest airports I have landed to. It is surrounded by beautiful lakes and farmlands. The fields had mostly been harvested and formed a golden brown blanket underneath us. The islands in the lake were covered with yellows and reds. The mostly German crowd in the plane was clearly impressed too.

I had expected the beautiful colorful autumn to be over already, and that there would be a grey misery waiting. I was so happy to find out I had been wrong! The foliage was still very colorful. As we drove up towards our summer home, I felt the homesickness kicking in. Funny, how that feeling of longing can hit you like that, when you actually are there, in the place you have been longing to. I hadn’t even noticed the whole thing back in Belgium.

But there I was, sitting in the car, looking at the colorful countryside passing by. And crying. Don’t know why, but the tap was wide open. Waffle was spooked, probably thinking that his girlfriend had gone mad.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

While we had been gone, my parents had taken the freedom to use and improve our hut. So we arrived to a slightly different Finnish summer nesting place.  We had a new fireplace outside. Dad had made it, since the previous one was resolving in itself. Also the open fireplace in the hut had been prepared so, that the smoke would actually go up the chimney and not into the room. The dock and the boat were taken out of water for winter. My parents had checked our oil lamps too, and labelled the ones that work. The oldies themselves were on holiday, so the we were on our own.

Such a nice feeling to get back to our own little piece of paradise. As it was getting dark, we lit the fire place, the sauna and a ton of candles. Soon the hut was toasty warm, smelling faintly of smoke. We wrapped ourselves on the sofa to watch the living fire and our small piece of land disappearing into the dark.

We had raided a store on the road. So now we possessed a massive feast of all things Finnish. Mainly Carelian pies and blueberry juice, which we munched on while waiting for the sauna to heat up.

It is not the quickest to warm up, the sauna of ours. But oh my, the löyly (heat) it gives, is magnificent. Perfectly moist, still rich in oxygen, even if the heat rises to skin burning levels! What a wonderful feeling it was after a heavy travel, just to sit there, let all your muscles heat all the way to the core, water hissing off of the stove. Shared all with the best boyfriend in the world. Priceless.

As a part of the sauna going, we wanted to take a dip into the lake. If the colors, migrating birds and the dark night hadn’t brought it home, the temperature of the lake water did: it was autumn! Our sauna-warm bodies were quickly chilled in the water and the cold pricks in my toes drove me back to the heat pretty quickly. We are not quick learners, so we tried the water again, several times, before giving up and letting the sauna cool down.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

That was pretty much how our weekend went. Keeping the cottage warm, doing some shopping for equipment and such, seeing relatives, visiting the touristic things in Kuopio, tracing elks and having some more sauna. The colors in the nature surrounding us and the beautiful fading autumn light created such an unspeakably beautiful setting.

No wonder neither of us was exactly jumping out of joy when the time to return home came, all too soon. We closed the place down, took the last sniffs of the smell of the wood fire and the moist forest and hit the road.  After a small mishap, we were running terribly late, given that we wanted to visit some friends in Tampere still before hopping into the plane. But the road was beautiful for the part we were able to appreciate it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The rest of the way, well, it did not go quite as planned. We returned the car, got to the terminal, through the security, all the way up to the plane. Even the plane got on to the runway and was speeding up. Until it wasn’t. Soon enough we found ourselves back in the terminal, waiting for a new plane from London. That took some time. So long in fact, that we could not land to Bremen anymore. They flew us to Hannover instead, a 2 hour bus ride away from Bremen.

We had thought, optimistically, that we would be back home, sleeping it all off in our own bed by 3 am the following day. Obviously that didn’t really happen. We started driving from Germany only after 6 in the morning. The German rush hours were kind enough to welcome us too into the slowly crawling queues. Waffle was soldiering through the misery without batting an eye, as I was drooling and snoring happily at the passenger’s seat.

When we finally got to our offices in the early afternoon, neither of us were too fresh. The work day was like wading through a thick swamp. But Finland had been beautiful! The weekend getaway had been perfect and I was happy to have had some Finland-time.

 

 

Advertisements

The most beautiful mornings

If you have been following our travels, you might already guess, that this post is not going to be filled with hotel recommendations. Instead this is a list of the 5 most memorable mornings, in the most memorable places around Europe for this duo of travellers. They are listed chronologically, since it would be way too difficult to determine which is prettier than the other. They are all beautiful, for different reasons.

One: Étretat

This morning has a load of memories attached, which might be the reason why it stands in this list.

It was the first camping / hiking trip we did together. We had been sniffing out places to camp in Normandy from maps and google. The first stop was on the cliffs bit outside Étretat. We arrived in the dark, only the beam from the light house near by was sweeping the waves and the white cliffs. The air was chilly and moist, the sound of the sea and the seagulls carried us to sleep.

The atmosphere in the morning was magical. Before opening my eyes I was transported to the sea, with the sound of the waves rumbling the rocks on the beach, the echo sounding from the cliff beneath us and the seagulls screeching on top of everything.

I still remember the salty moist in the air as we opened the tent door and looked over the English Channel. A fresh coffee on a camping stove with no rush to go anywhere made the morning perfect.

Two: Duror Bothy

The bothies of Scotland, who would not love them. One night on our grand tour Scotland we spent in the Duror Bothy, an old house with a rich history. On the way there we had gotten a little lost in the forest. Waffle did not have his smokes and all the fire wood was wet and the rain kept pouring down from the sky.  We were less than happy as we slowly started to get the stove working and the smoke actually going up the chimney.

During the night our (or well, Waffle’s) peaceful sleep got interrupted by a culinaristic mouse, who was after our chocolate mousses and Parmesan cheese.

In the morning the surroundings had changed. The grey rain had passed. The shy warmth of the sun was pulling fog out of the soaking forest and the fresh smell filled the glen. The bothy was still warm and our gear had dried up and now had a faint scent of smoke embedded in them.

It felt such a luxury then, to wrap warm clothes on while the water for breakfast was boiling. A piece of nature, with morning sun and the first signs of coming spring. There was such harmony there!

Three: Mt. Olympos

There was no second thought over picking this one. The day before we climbed the whole bloody thing, that is Mt. Olympus in Greece and came half way back down too, to a manned refuge, Refuge A.  No need to say, we were a bit tired. The plan of getting out at night to watch the stars was ditched as we drooled in the dorm room beds at 8 pm.

Oh, the morning then. We were up before the sunrise, having our yogurts with honey and thick slices of brown bread. Outside there was going on just the kind a spectacle you would expect a sunrise to be, on the world’s most mythical mountain.

The horizon over the Aegean sea was flaming in the light of the rising sun, leaving the slopes beneath us completely black still. Slowly the light started to tickle the peak of the Olympus itself, turning the grey rocks into orange. We and all the other hikers were there, just staring at the emerging light as the new day began.

Four: The Welsh Moors

It was one of our extemporish trips, this one. There sometimes are cheap ferries to cross the English Channel, and we love nothing more than cheap tickets. So there we were, searching for our third spot to camp, going through the small roads printed on the map.

We found a spot next to the river Usk, close to the town of Llanddeusant and the Usk reservoir. There was a small stream there and a view to the Black Mountains of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Already during the night we could hear our neighbours. There were a herd of Welsh mountain ponies grazing on the moor around us.  The morning brought fresh and wet palette of pastel colors. No spectacular sunrises, nor musical sea scenes this time. The serene quietness and peace of the ponies made the memory of this morning stick to my mind as one of the most beautiful we have had.

Five: Refuge in the Fagaras

The evening before we had a choice. A mountain rescue hut above 2000m of altitude in slightly freezing conditions, or a hotel.

Hut it was, of course, plus it looked cute on the pictures in google.

As we reached the hut a slight feeling of doubt was creeping into our minds. It was practically just a large tin can with wooden platforms to sleep on. Still we stayed, stuffed our faces with large hot portions of food and tried to sleep. Huddled together like piglets, shaken awake every time the cold went too deep into our muscles.

I have never been so happy to be woken up by sunrise, to be able to crawl out of bed! Or well “bed”. It took courage, to shove a toe out of the sleeping bag to the freezing air of the hut. We quickly changed another set of clothes on, had extra portions of coffee, hot chocolate and cookies.

Getting a move on, blood circulating the muscles was priority number one. After a bit of movement, the decision to stay was rewarded. A crisp layer of frost was coating the mountains and the clouds were floating around us, letting through an occasional sun ray.

The sheer happiness of surviving this night makes the memory of the morning so beautiful.

There would be plenty more….

But these ones really stand out.

Having these breathtakingly beautiful mornings is one of the biggest reasons why we carry our homes on our backs while we travel. You plant yourself where ever you feel like and enjoy the 5 star surroundings. With no irritating tourists around and zero costs. Usually that means, that we go through some amounts of pain and suffering before getting there. That, I think, functions as a clue, that sticks the memories to our minds forever.

 

Wrapping up the year 2016

It is December again, the end of the year, time of celebrations, traditions and the beginning of winter. It is a good moment to count your fortunes, check if you have offended the Karma, and how much more, or less, kilos there are on the waistline. After that we can all consider whether the year was a good or a bad one, and what to do in 2017 to make it better, or worse, in case someone happens to be a masochist.

Well, I started this year with my Waffle in Barcelona. Making wishes as people around us swallowed grapes on every beat of the clock. Since then there has been some new pins appearing to our map. Somehow we orientated a lot to the Eastern Europe this year. Some great mountains and wild nature there. I think both of us fell in love with Montenegro in its endless greenery. Not that Romania is left too far behind.

I think we have gotten a bit used to this traveling. It felt like a quiet year until we lay our eyes on the photo album. We have been to places with quite a hectic pace.

Beside the traveling we do, there is the normal, everyday life we are having. Our relationship is only getting stronger I think. And forming sometimes even a little spooky, symbiotic features. But I love my Waffle and he loves me back, so I don’t really mind even if we transform into one of those disgusting couples who do everything together and the same way.

We have also gained some amazing friends this year. They make me realize the fact, that you should surround yourself with people you feel good to be around and that support you and offer a healthy amount of critique at times, when you are going wild on a stupid idea. Thank you, my new people. And thank you my old people, who are still there and haven’t forgotten me, no matter the distance in between!

And personal growth? Someone told me it is sometimes important to consider that as well, sometimes. Pfft, says I, but lets give it a try. I have always been, and still am, very bad at self reflection. I go with a flow, see where I end up and embrace the opportunities that rise along the way, out of coincidences and accidents. Sometimes it is liberating, at times it is stressful but it works for me. And Waffle seems to be able to tag along nicely, so I am happy.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Somehow this passed year did force me to look a bit deeper too. Taking a jump off of work was something I had to consider a bit. I wasn’t sure if I was giving up too soon and whether it was fair towards Waffle. But since quitting I have gained a new language (somewhat) and a new job! So no new lessons learned about being spontaneous and reckless.

What about the coming 2017? It is getting closer and closer and somehow we all need to survive it. I usually do not make any resolutions. Now I am making an exception, since I think I came up with a good one that might make me a better person. Or a more irritating one, who knows.

You know, there are those moments when you end up saying “We definitely should do that!” I think most people have that habit. But what happens after saying those words? Sometimes something, often absolutely nothing. Now, I promise that after I blurt out a thing like that, something will happen.

My dear friends. I love you, please don’t make me regret this…

What about you, people out there; How was your 2016 and what is the survival plan for 2017? In any case, Happy New Year!

Couple, Sailing, DFDS

On actual normal picture of the two of us together. Nobody making faces!