GENERAL INFO (Jump to Diary)|
The Republic of Finland is an unitary parliamentary republic, covering 338.424 square kilometres. It is the home of 5.488.543 citizens of which 72% are Christians.
The currency is Euro, worth 7,46 Danish Krone. The GDP is US$234.578 billion.
The temperateness varies considerably between the southern coastal regions and the extreme north, showing characteristics of both a maritime and a continental climate.
The fauna is quite diverse, with over 260 species of carnivorans. Among the more interesting larger mammals are the Eurasian elk (Alces alces), Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), Wild boar (Sus scrofa), Arctic fox (Alopex lagopus), Raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides), Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), Wolverine (Gulo gulo), European otter (Lutra lutra), Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber), Grey wolf (Canis lupus) and the Brown bear (Ursus arctos).
Much of Finland is dominated by conifers, but in the extreme south there is a zone of deciduous trees comprising mainly birch, hazel, aspen, maple, elm, linden, and alder. The conifers are mainly pine and spruce. Pine extends to the extreme north, where it can be found among the dwarf arctic birch and pygmy willow. I have not favourites, and nothing in particular I will be looking for.
The part of Helsinki I drive through are really not exiting. Square concrete buildings without any decorations or charm. Only notable feature is a real huge statue of a naked man, pissing. It seems like most roads are dug up in the central part of town, and here are a lot of cars, trying to get out.
Some bedrock start within the city, and out on the countryside, the road leads through many "valleys". The wheat is still greenish here, and it have gotten some rain earlier today. It is a short countryside-drive eastbound to the little town of Porvoo.
It have a old part of town, next to the river, and it is real cute. Pastel coloured wooden houses, topped copplestones, colourful small boats and a few nice old stone buildings. I do some extensive loops around, and when I think everything is covered, and I have way too many photos, I head for the nearby camp.
They don't serve food - except micro-wave heated frost, and I could do with something NOT from a can today. I drive down to the new part of town, which is even more ugly than the part of Helsinki I saw. But; they have many restaurants, and I get some hot food. Back at camp, I clean the car inside and do the usual work. Helsinki and Old Porvoo. I have some spare time due to the work on the ferry - and I have returned to CET, so I make a few photos of the interior of the VW Lupo 3L GTI GT.
4/8. I head back west, and passes Helsinki by Ring 3. It seems like all new buildings here are hideous, just like the old are beautiful. After Helsinki, I have 200 kilometres of mainly pine forest, but also a lot of birch and some small fields. Here, the barley, wheat and rape is green on most fields. The only harvest is hay, some done by hand. I think it is typical Finnish; the contrast between huge, real modern factories and farming by hand.
The road leads upwards, and are cut down into the granite in many stretches. Here are a few tunnels and some wildlife bridges. It is only partly sunny, and ahead, black clouds are gathering. The morning was a bit cold, and the temperature keep down at 21C.
A pair of cranes are circling over the road, but I don't see any storks. I actually don't see that many animals at all, tame or wild. Only a single field today have a few cows. Here are some crows and a few buzzards, that is all. Never the less, wildlife bridges are crossing the bigger roads in several places, and the moose warning signs are everywhere.
I reach Turku, a big and modern town with a huge harbour. Next to it, the 700 year old Turun Linne Castle is found. It is raining, and I head up the hill, and into the surprisingly small courtyard. The buildings are massive, and there are different collections inside. I decide that the outside will be enough for me.
Close by is an archaeological- and art museum: Aboa Vetus, and I find it easily. But talking myself into seeing it, turn out to be way harder. I have been driving 329 kilometres in average the last 121 days. Now, I have 21 days to drive the last planned 9.000 kilometres; 428 kilometres a day, to make it to the cars road safety inspection - on time. And I might need a day to get it lined up for it! That does stress me a bit.
Next sight is 100 kilometres north of here, and the landscape hardly changes. Despite I get some real heavy showers, I do enjoy the tour on these perfect roads - except from the numerous speed-traps. Just before I get to Rauma, it clears up, but I bring the umbrella.
Rauma is a rather large town, made up by wooden houses. All in pristine conditions and build right out the copplestone streets, with gardens in the back yards. I do a lot of walking, and see most of these fine, old houses and the market, which is rather quiet of a Saturday. Like most of the other countries I have visited lately, it seems like the major part of guests are from within the country. Hardly any explanations and alike are in English. But most people seems to at least understand English.
Just as I reach the car, it start to drip a bit. It is yet 160 kilometres north to the start of Route 66, and again, heavy showers crosses my path. I get into Nokia Commune, and one of the brown signs have a pictogram; viewing point. Like in Rauma, the signs are only in Finnish, and have no pictograms, except this one: Kind of annoying for a foreigner.
A narrow road leads way into the forest, and here, a new wooden tower is build on the top of a hill; Haralanharju. The views are fantastic: Forest, lakes, rain! Considering around half the land is made up by lakes around here, I hardly see any. Well, the road is placed high, and the forests take any sights.
Back on the road, I find the Route 66. It should be beautiful, but so was the other roads, leading to it. Along it, Kallenaution Kievari, a farm from 1757 is found. Most of the old buildings have the original interior, while one have a little shop with products of 40 local artists, another a small cafe. The sun take part, and I enjoy both the sights, but also a cup of tea and a slice of cake.
Their toilet is yet another typical Finnish thing; compost toilet and electronic water tap. While the sun is here, I do some short stops along the road, to botanize a bit. Most plants are familiar, but the amount of lichen astonishing. From here, it is only a relative short drive to the camp of the day.
It is found outside Ruovesi, on an island. I find a supermarket just before the town, but a tiny letish to €4 or a pepper fruit to €7 is not going to be my supper. Then the road is blocked by farming machinery. It look like they just had their annual town fair or something, but it is over by now.
I find a way around town, and then the camp. It is located within a fantastic looking lake, and I start with a stroll along the shore. Then I hear some rather potent engine speeding up in the town, and considering this is Finland, I think: Rally!. Back in town, it turns out I'm right. It might be local guys, but they are really going for it! Well, till the roads are drowned within minutes. The last three are tip-toeing bye. A few minutes later, the rain stops as fast as is started.
the way back, I see one of the brown signs, and it starts with Rune - and
then some "i"s and "k"s . I find a huge boulder, and it might have runes
underneath the mosses, but the rain starts again, and I looses interest.
Back to empty some cans of food and work. It start to be dark half pass ten, but not
5/8. It is a lovely place I stay, but I have to move on. It is a three hour drive to the first stop, but it is - at first - at the now real nice Route 66. The landscape is almost completely flat, but the variation of rocks, forest, small fields, lots of rather unspoiled nature and a smooth road make it a perfect drive. The traffic is light this Sunday morning, and it starts as a perfect sunny summers day.
Some fields with oat, barley and wheat is still green, but I see the first harvester in action in Finland too. Here are also some beans and potatoes, but the main crop is still hay. Many of the fields have the tiny huts for hay scattered around still.
After three hours of driving, I reach Jakobstad, which should hold a lot of wooden houses. Well, here are some, but among way more newer houses. I start at the harbour, but end up walking a better part of the town, just to find something nice to photo. Even the centre of town seems so dead, and I head on.
I get to the bigger road 19, but the speed limit is still 100 km/h. The road passes a huge area with significantly more fields, which seems to be run from the rather small farms. While the farms in general are made up by old timber buildings, the factories are real fancy in aluminium and modern designs. And they are found outside most larger villages and towns.
I see some small and rather nice churches in the smaller towns, and a single tiny wooden windmill. Another windmill is being transported in parts, and they are huge! I stop at one of the bigger rivers, dotted with red rocks. Along with the green grass, it make a great motive. The old, red timber building just add.
I've been driving on Rantatie Strandvägen - a route along the sea, for several hundred kilometres, and I still haven't see the sea. I find a narrow gravel road, leading out to a tiny harbour. The beach is made up by the first bedrock of the day, and a lot of rocks and small boulders.
Three hours driving brings me to Oulo, which should be a "Pretty town" especially Kauppatori square. I park at the harbour, and walk across town. Here are quite some people walking around, most are not borne in Finland, but not tourists either. It is the most ethnic diverse community I have meet on this tour - even compared to Paris!
Despite I walk for a long time, I fail to find the pretty part. Even the harbour is "decorated" with a huge concrete block in the water. A band is playing on the square, and I guess you have to be borne Finnish to appreciate it. Here are a few, real well maintained old buildings, but 90% are the new ugly concrete stuff, they seem love.
I head on, as the rain have caught up. I pass the city of Kemi (Danish for chemistry), and are now entering Lapland. The forest are taking over the fields, but strangely enough, I see three small groups of cows; the first in Finland. The warning signs for Moos are now changes into Reindeer. Besides from that, nothing changes.
I reach Rovaniemi at six, and find a camp after 701 kilometres. Here are 56 huts - all empty and a large lawn for tents - empty too. But I can stay, get a hot shower and Wi-Fi, and that is all I ask for. I found an open supermarket earlier, and have some rather expensive vegetables and eggs, which make the content of the cans taste way more interesting. Route 66, Jakobstad, Rantatie Strandvägen, Oulo, Southern Lapland.
6/8. It is not really dark during the night. It was darker during the day under the thunderstorms. I make a picture at midnight, and it turn out all right. It have been a bit nippy during the night, but it turns out my sleeping bag have committed hara-kiri. I fix it in the morning, hoping it will last.
The plan is to head bye Hetta, and then into Norway, but the day start with programming the GPS: Boring and time consuming, but it have to be done. I stop at some of the lakes, but I miss the sun. Through a single larger city without stopping, and then into more forest. Here start to be a lot of birch, but the pines have not given up.
I cross the Artic Circle, but here were not the expected sign, and I miss the spot. On the other side, reindeers start to grass along the road, and walking on it too. It is bachelors, some with real big antlers. They are just jumpy enough to make any photo rather impossible. I see around 30 reindeer, and a few of the pictures might document that (not the number; the species). I also see a rather dark hare, but don't even bother to try to make a photo.
The sun start to break through, but only in the places I don't need it. Same with parking; never where the motives are. The landscape start to be a bit more hilly, but I don't see any bedrock, except where the road is dug though. Here start to be a lot of flowers along the road, but I suspect them to be brought in with the gravel, placed along the road.
Here start to be more swampy areas, with crippled trees, plain grass or sphagnum mosses. I see the sea a few times, and get out to it once. Then I reach Hetta at noon, which is just a waypoint, and I drive right through. Then there are 450 kilometres to Nordkapp in Norway, 400 of them in Norway, and I recon I can make it today. Well, five and a half hour is the GPS' guess, but here are some campers on the road, and I tend to stop numerous times.
I had actually expected this very north to be something between lunar- and desert landscape, but only now, the trees are getting smaller, and here are real lush and green. And it turns out to be causes by the huge swamps, not by the temperature. Despite the sun is gone, I do some walking in different areas. One is with boulders, one swampy, one with mosses, ferns and with crippled trees.
I reach the border, but they are strangely enough rebuilding it all, and the detour is completely open. Only a small sign saying "Norge". Northern Finland.
Finland have been a great experience, and I have enjoyed the driving on their great roads. I have driven 1684 kilometres, taken 819 photos and not frozen - much. I have spend €161, diesel the major with €78, then camps with €47. Here are a lot of undisturbed nature, a lot of pines and lakes and little else. However, I am not planning to to return. From here, I enters Norway.