First stop in Scandinavia: IKEA. We shopped vegetarian sausages and fried onions for Hot Dogs for dinner – for the real Nordic experience right away.
Afterwards we drove to a remote spot right by a lake. To also get to know the real Finland in the very beginning. We discovered that Finland deserves its name: Country with 1.000 lakes. It indeed has lots of lakes.
We enjoyed nine days with beautiful spring weather in Finland: Tim and me went for a swim in one of the lakes with freezing cold water, Felix and me took a walk through the woods, Tim and Felix played some soccer and the three of us talked a lot about our documentary.
At day two we got the real Finish experience: We went to a caravan shop for some free Wifi since we needed to upload some files. While we stood on their parking lot, one of the shop assistances came to us for a peek into our van. While chatting she asked if we already used their showers and sauna. Well, we didn’t, so she gave us a card to enter the little spa. We enjoyed a relaxed afternoon in a Finish sauna, had a really nice shower and later on drove to a new spot for a night by another lake.
Slowly but steady, we drove a little bit further up North, to the region around Tampere where lakes are all around. Sanna, a Finish friend of mine whom I got to know when we were both living in the States for an Au-Pair-year, came around for a day. So, the two of us went to explore Tampere, a city of live music. It has a special flair, it has an industrial charm and it is really arty. Plus, it was super warm that day, so we got to spend the whole time outside, enjoying the sun and strolling around the city. It was super nice to finally see Sanna again, after four years. We got to talk a lot and just enjoyed hanging out together, again. It felt normal right away.
After the one-day vanlife break, I came back to nature. We spent some more time at lakes in the spring sun and worked on the documentary. The last days we spent in Finland, we went to Turku, where Sanna and her husband Mo live. It was the days around May 1st, which is a big holiday in Finland, we learned. University students graduate the day before and celebrate outside the whole day. So, there was a special atmosphere that day with lots of people outside, enjoying drinks in the sun by the river. Which by night looks like this:
At Sanna and Mos place we enjoyed warm and nice showers, went to the sauna (did you know that it is normal for Finish people to have a sauna in their house or even in their bathroom in a flat? – Amazing!) and did all our laundry. Probably that was the last time on the trip, washing our clothes which is a weird feeling. I never thought about the end of the trip as often as lately. A lot of things happen for the last time which is strange since in the beginning it seemed like an endless journey.
Besides doing laundry, Tim, Felix and Mo watched soccer, Sanna and me went out for food and drinks, and we met Piia for an interview:
Thank you, Piia for sharing your views with us! It was interesting to get to know an opinion from someone working in logistics and to get a different point of view over the Brexit chaos. We spend the afternoon at Piias place, enjoyed typical Finish-First-May-drinks and -food and went to the harbor town Naantali to spend the evening in a restaurant with a great view, life music and pizza.
Spontaneously, also Mo agreed on giving an interview in front of the camera. It was extremely interesting to get to know an outside view of the European Union. Since Mo grew up in Congo, he firstly knows the EU as a big community of states which came to exploit his country which is rich of resources. The interview was very touching, and we are happy to be able to use his thoughts in our documentary. Plus, he told us that he is happy that he was welcomed in Finland so warmly. That he made lots of friends who tell him that they do not see his skin color in the first place – which he was afraid of, when he moved here for his wife.
Get to know all our interview partners a bit better on the page “People of Europe”!
Let’s finish the report about our days in Finland with another story where we thought: This can only happen to you in Finland! We thought, we have seen it all in the country of lakes and saunas – a tiny sauna in a bathroom in a little flat, a campervan with a sauna trailer, people going for a swim in a half-frozen lake, a free sauna by a caravan store, … But then there came the ferry ride to Sweden! We booked, as always, the cheapest ferry and expected, as always, nothing. But we got it all: free breakfast buffet, lunch buffet, free Wifi and even a little spa area. So, we spent some time in the sauna (yes, we enjoyed lots of saunas in Finland), the jacuzzi and the shower.
That was a worthy farewell – Goodbye Finland, hopefully see you soon!
Our route through Finlands South: