4th July 2007

Sur la route de … Savonlinna

It is really not my first trip there, but I realized I didn’t say much about this very nice place yet …

First, about getting there (from Helsinki). I have tried a few roads, but I think the most pleasant and least busy (perhaps this is related), is the one that consists of going towards Kouvola and Mikkeli. As soon as the motorway ends, the landscape shows dozens of lakes along the road, a lot of forests of course, but also some fields in the south part, between Helsinki and Kouvola :

Mostly, fields are found in the very South-West part of Finland, but of course you’ll find some in other places, and this area (North-East of Helsinki) is one of those. Note the typical colour and material of the house.

Typical roads in Finland are well-maintained, offer relatively few curves or uphill-downhill, with those becoming rarer as you go North. They are naturally digged accross forests, so the lanscape could quickly become boring, if it wasn’t for this abondance of lakes, more wonderful as you go.

   

   

Forests in Finland are typically composed of birches and pine trees, with more of the second as you go North (but less forests and more swamps as you go really North). The annoying part with Finnish roads, are the over-protective and sometimes stupid speed limits and painting on the asphalt. No, really. It is not unusual to find a road wide enough to land a plane, straight for kilometers, excellent conditions, and an awful 60km/h sign, just for you. Oh, that and you can’t pass.

It takes about 4 to 5 hours to drive to Savonlinna, depending on your average speed and your breaks. I just hope you’ll get more lucky than me with the weather :) This was about as much sun as I got during one week :

Savonlinna is built on islands, in the “lake district” of Finland. The city is famous for its medieval castle Olavinlinna, certainly the nicest in Finland. The castle hosts every year a prestigious opera festival, attracting international tourists and singers, awaking the city for June and July. I strongly recommend stopping by, also for the local food, in particular to taste fried Muikku (vendace) and Lörtsy. Both can be found in the cute city-center market place. Lörtsy can be quite tricky, as there are two versions of it; it can be sweet, and filled with fruit jam, like the traditional apple one, or the Lakka one (cloudberry). It can also be salty, and filled with minced meat and rice, and is best enjoyed with ketchup and Finnish mustard. I would also recommend the Medieval restaurant Hilpeä Munkki, located in front of the castle, across the bay (go quickly before it gets too expensive!).

      

For the Finns though, there is one more reason to get there … as it is very laky area, one probably owns a summer cottage or “mökki”, where having a sauna and dips in the lake, eating sausages, drinking beer, are the main activities (but not necessarily in this order). The highlight of the summer is to appreciate a warm midsummer bonfire under the midnight sun. It is sooo peaceful there, it is easy to forget yourself !

   

See you !

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 4th, 2007 at 2:02 and is filed under Finlande, in English please !, voyages. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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