When on a recent tour through Scandinavia with Insight Vacations last spring, I was wary of the long drive through Finland on the way to the top of Europe (https://justcallmequeen.wordpress.com/2016/07/21/norkapp-top-of-the-europe/). But, I was pleasantly surprised with the regular stops we had through the day at very scenic and interesting parts of the country. Coming out of Helsinki on the way to Kuopio, our first stop was at a ski jump training site:
Olympians train here and being up close to one gave me a new appreciation to how high that jump is!
Then, a stop at Mikkeli, where Mannheim had his headquarters during the 30 day winter war between Finland and Russia over the border. A statue of Mannheim graces the main square:
Behind the train station:
is the old train that Mannheim and his men used
Up on a hill above the city center is St. Michael’s church:
Our destination that day was to Kuopio (https://justcallmequeen.wordpress.com/2016/05/05/fog-runs-through-kuopio/). Not bad for our first day.
Our first pit stop the next day coming out of Kuopio was at Oulu. A lakeside town, where the snow had not completely melted by early spring and the kayakers were already out!
There were many walking and biking paths around, as locals zipped in and out from their lakeside homes:
There were some modern art pieces around town
Juxtaposed to more baroque style buildings.
Along the riverfront, these old tar topped fishing houses are now trendy boutiques and eatery:
Behind these houses is Market Square, which was hopping on this Saturday afternoon with stalls of vendors selling clothes, knick knacks, and food:
Like this Finnish pancake (which is like a crepe) filled with your choice of sweet or savory filling:
Most popular was the stand that sold these goodies:
Fried smelt and salmon served with a tomato sauce and garlic sauce for dipping. I didn’t catch the name of this stand but you can’t miss it – it is in the center of of the square and a constant long line of people waiting to get their eats.
For dessert, how about some traditional Finnish donuts and wine cooler:
More to eat could be found inside their gorgeous market hall:
guarded by this guy:
and surrounded by bikes as patrons gather to eat.
Public restrooms are sparse but available at the public library on the other side of the square (wink wink)
Our stop that night was at Rovanemi (https://justcallmequeen.wordpress.com/2016/08/04/rovanemi-capital…-and-santas-home/), where we had a great couple of days!
Heading out from Rovanemi a few days later, we made a stop at this 400 year old wooden church:
Heading up to colder lands,
We arrive at the old god panning town of Tankavara!
Crazy – who would have thunk to find gold panning in Finland!?!? This was my favorite part of town – signs to other towns in the world to pan for gold:
Then up to above the tree line:
Apparently, trees can’s grow once the altitude gets too high:
There is a platform to get a better view of the line:
The platform was complete with plaques to orient you in to which direction you are looking towards. Here is the plaque pointing you to Russia!
Then, to our destination for the night – Italo! Check out this midnight sun set:
Which rivaled this gorgeous sunrise!
Our last stop before crossing the border into Norway, we paid a visit to the Sami museum at their headquarters in the Lapland:
As well as their rituals, beliefs, and sacred items:
What a beautiful country and so glad for this opportunity to drive through Finland!