cartermark's blog

Bob and the Land of the Perpetual : Sun Part 2

posted by cartermark, Jan 24, 2008 3:50 PM — 1 comments

Bob and the Land of the Perpetual Sun
Part 2

Waking up to a traditional Finnish breakfast I waded through the selection of fine cold meats and a bowl of cornflakes. Feeling relaxed and ready for the day’s events ahead, I decided to head down to the hotel lobby to meet up with the rest of the holiday group. Whilst relaxing on a chair that I could only describe as functional fashion and straight out of a IKEA showroom I could not help but over hear a conversation between a couple of ladies talking about a three legged poodle called BooBoo that had eaten her favourite slippers and had regurgitated them on the back seat of her hatchback Daewoo.

After 20 minutes of listening to the ladies witter on about BooBoo and its odd eating habits, I noticed the crew gathering out side near the tour bus. One or two of the crew seemed to be nursing a hang over from sampling some of the local drinks last night and had that look of “oh man, why oh why did I have to try the green looking drink?”

Once we were on the road in our top notch luxury air-conditioned coach, most of the crew was already curled up and were having a snooze to pass the time for the 4 hour ride to the Lake Lands ahead of us. The first thing I noticed within the first 30 minutes was that there was hardly any traffic on the roads, in fact I could count on one hand how many cars I saw on the road. The second thing I noticed was the spectacular landscape. The Finnish are a very proud people and have kept their traditions and architecture since the middle ages.

I mean it was only a few hundred years ago since they abolished a law where a father could kill his own son if he thought he couldn’t afford to bring him up and my favourite one was “the wife whip”, a husband had the right to whip his wife if he thought she was adulterous. I did have a bit of a giggle with that one until one of the ladies in the group I was in looked at me and gave me a look that said it all, “keep giggling son and I will show you the true meaning of pain” needless to say I then made a comment like “that’s just shocking, I mean what kind of person would whip his wife . . Cough” once again I have digressed from the subject at hand.

The astonishing buildings and décor left you in a state of awe and you could easily let you mind drift back to a time when Finland was continuously at war with its
neighbouring states.

Having been conquered by Swedish and then Russians, the Finnish culture survived with the influence of their conquers architecture showing from time to time. One spectacular location we visited was the Island fortress of Savonlinna, Olavinlinna (known as Olofsborg in Swedish, which is St. Olaf's Castle in English), founded by Erik Axelsson Tott in 1475 in an effort to protect Savonia and to control the unstable border between the Kingdom of Sweden and its Russian adversary.
This whole area is a fantastic location for a family holiday to Finland because of its picturesque lake and really affordable accommodation, from beautiful hotels to guest houses. Speaking of guest houses, we did decide to pop into one called Huvila for lunch that day.

The owner greeted us at the door and decided to take it upon himself to show and let us sample his local brews. Needless to say the berry cider hit the spot and after a few pints of his killer beer we all felt a bit on the tipsy side. To make matters worse our next destination was a monastery and the only way to get there was by ferry. This was going to a classic journey as I have only just found out I suffer from sea sickness and just the thought of the ferry ride was sending my stomach into knots like a deranged sea cucumber that’s just got him self caught between an eel and a shark.

Once onboard the ferry, the captain was very accommodating and even let us have a sit in his chair. After a round of strong coffee and a couple of chocolate muffins complements of the captain, we started to feel human again and the ferry trip took us on a whole new journey of spectacular lake side scenery. Most of us dream of a lake side property and here in Savonlinna nearly every inhabitant has one.

On arrival to the Valamo Monastery in Heinavesi we all were taken back by the luscious green fields and blue waters. This is a working monastery and very humble and on arrival you immediately get the feel of the age and religious conviction this stunning place stands for. We were greeted by a shy monk, who was dressed in his traditional cloth, which we were told has not changed in style and type of fabric since the 14th century. This was a truly spectacular and a very awe-inspiring part of the trip to Finland

Our next stop was going to be the highlight of the Holiday to FinlandHoliday to Finland as we are heading off to Lake Saimaa. This part of Finland is very well known for its enormous lakes and lake side holiday cottages. I was looking forward to chilling out by a large lake, lighting up a cigar and sipping on a cold beer while the sun reflected off the small ripples on the lake as the fish breached the surface.

We arrived at the Lake side cottage resort at about 5o’clock and were introduced to the manager who looked like a skinner version of Vin Diesel. Straight away we put our luggage into our own private luxury lake side cabins and were then escorted to the main premises for a meal and some refreshments. Now as you know I am a very fussy eater but this plate of food that was placed in front of me was absolutely immaculate. The restaurant on this resort is gourmet and the food tasted and looked beyond anything I had tasted before.

Sitting opposite us was a group of 4 Swedish men who looked like they were discussing some serious business as they knocked back a few cold ones. Towards the end of our evening the 2 groups merged and we were invited to a traditional sauna. Now the word traditional does not sound like a bad thing but put it in the context that a traditional Finnish sauna is mega hot. Ok now I am not exactly a shy chap but getting into a small wooden sauna with no lights with 4 inebriated Swedish men is most likely one of my greatest fears. I have swum with great white sharks and stayed clam, I have been in the middle of a riot and stayed calm but this actually scared the bejeebes out of me.

If a man is reading this right now I am sure you are saying the same thing that was going through my mind. “Run away you fool, run away!” The rest of our group decided to pull the old “sorry we have an early start tomorrow so we better head of to bed” story. I needed an excuse and I needed one fast! I did not want to insult the gents but at the same time I had to get out of this situation as fast as I could.

The only excuse that came to mind was, “oh sorry chaps but I don’t have any shorts”. What they said next is possible the scariest and most sobering few words’ you will ever hear as an English man. “Oh don’t worry we are all friends here, we don’t wear anything in a sauna”
Boom! An incredible urge was building up in me to scream like a little girl and run.
Suddenly a voice behind me said “ok chaps ill bring the beer” I looked behind me only to find out that no one was there…Oh god, I had said it.
Reserve your stay at the Ice Lodge
Walking towards the sauna I could hear the duelling banjos playing and a scene out of the Deliverance movie playing through my mind. “I’m going to die!”

End of Part 2 / Part 3 to follow soon

Comments | RSS

1. posted by shar, Jan 30, 2008 7:14 AM

Great fun and interesting too.

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