1,000 Miles to Helsinki

If England was successful and made it to the World Cup Final, our plan was to drive all the way to Helsinki in 3 days and treat ourselves to viewing the match in a bar. However, the cost of Norway had taken its toll (pun intended) and Finland is known to be just as expensive, so we still decided to make our visit to Finland a fleeting one.

With almost 1,000 miles ahead of us, we strapped ourselves in and prayed for easier roads than Norway.

Avoiding the route which would take us back along the E6, it took 4 hours through wind, rain and temperatures of 10c to reach Karasjok near the Finnish border.

As we re-entered the EU, things changed; the temperature climbed to 25c, the roads straightened out, speed limits increased, time went forward another hour, Stanley Dog relaxed and we could actually spend the Euros in our pocket. We started to like Finland (except losing an hour!).

With dragonflies the size of small birds bouncing off the windscreen, we zipped along road 92 and turned south on the E75, the road which would take us all the way to Helsinki.

We eventually found a stopover for the night near the river at Inari. With huge wasps and mosquito everywhere – we started to feel unsure of Finland!

Still in the realms of the midnight sun we struggled to sleep, which resulted in a late night with Netflix.

The next morning (ahem, afternoon!) after breakfast, we covered ourselves with bug repellant and braved a walk along the Juutua Trail, a well maintained trail which follows the river to the Sami museum in Itari.

With no obvious bites or stings we hit the road for another long drive, all the way to the Santa Claus Village in Lapland where we spent the night.

Listening to looped Christmas tunes and other Christmas-y things going on, it made for a surreal experience in 28c heat, I felt for the guy doing the summer shift as Santa!

Another long drive got us to a lakeside location in Viitasaari, a pleasant town with around 230 lakes nearby puts Ambleside to shame.

Walking around the park we noticed this symbol:

For obvious reasons we first thought it sinister, but a little research told us it is the emblem of ‘Lotta Svard’, a Finnish voluntary auxiliary paramilitary organisation for women, formed in 1918. We also learnt more about the use of the swastika (prior to the 1930s).

Now Sunday, World Cup Final Day; we drove on to Helsinki.

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