Finland was a place I was worried about. Simply for the fact that Norway was so incredible, so how could anything live up to that?
I have been to Finland before, during December, when the ground was covered in snow and the temperature didn’t rise above -17C. This was a magical Finland, filled with snow mobiles, ice hotels and huskies. The summer sadly, did not live up to my winter experience. And frankly, Finland paled in the shadow of Norway.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing bad about the country – it feels more Russian than Scandinavian, but I loved Russia, so its not a bad thing. There are trees everywhere and hiking routes galore – especially in the north. We saw some reindeer, and strangely also saw geese waiting to cross the road (genuinely waiting for the traffic to pass then running before the next vehicle came along the other way) There are lakes and rivers, and even more trees. Nothing bad, but it didn’t feel exciting. Even those incredible glass igloos that appear on Facebook feeds (and I’ve even blogged about them here) didn’t live up to expectations sans snow.
In the north, we spent a day in Oulu – a genuinely nice city. Quite small, but quaint, welcoming and sweet. The market hall is stunning, but quite honestly, my main highlight for Oulu is a Thai restaurant called Phuket – it was just yummy! (And surprisingly cheap)
Finland felt like it lacked spirit. Even in the weekend crowds of Helsinki, it felt tired, like it was lacking energy – like it had just worked a 12 hour shift and been forced to go out to a club knowing it had to go back to work in less than 6 hours.
Helsinki is pretty, it is a collection of different architectural styles. The harbour market is constantly full to bursting, there are tour groups and locals all intermingling, there are boats and shops, playgrounds and churches, and everything you expect from a city, but still, the whole place felt like it was lacking that spirit, the energy, the spark.
Maybe its because I loved it in the winter? Maybe its because I was so spilt by Norway? Either way, we sped up our trip through and only spent 4 days in Finland in total.
Please send me recommendations about Finland in the comments below, I want to fall in love with this country again!