For the last week we have been travelling along the west coast of Finland – which borders Sweden in the north and further south, the Baltic Sea. It’s the area of the country with the least number of lakes and hence, the most heavily populated by Finish standards. It consists actually of a number of towns interspersed between vast areas of forest. Some of these towns have old centres and it was these which drew our interest. After two weeks of walking in Lapland, we thought it was high time to visit some of the towns on our way south towards Helsinki and our flight back to Amsterdam.
We travelled by bus – and the buses here, often double deckers, are excellent.
The so-called historic centres of the towns bordering Sweden were pleasant enough but nothing compared to the historic towns and cities further south in Europe (eg, Netherlands, Belgium, France and Italy). One town, Rauma, had accoring to the LP guide the most impressive old centre from all the Nordic countries. Which suggests that a reason to visit these countries is not to experience history but rather to appreciate the forests and the space and the environment of countries with low population densities – something very rare in today’s overpopulated planet.
One rather pleasing aspect about the towns in Finland – for us anyway – is the number of Indian and Thai restuarants. This was quite a surprise for us and very pleasant one!. I wondered how and why the Indians and Thais had come to Finland in the first place and in the case of the people we got the chance to talk to, it appears that some of them at least came to Finland in the first place to study. We like our curries hot and always made sure to ask for that when ordering (the Fins aren’t the most adventurous people when it comes to cuisine).
The journeys between towns was inevitably with forests hugging both sides of the road. We saw very few farms and the ones we saw were growing crops (especially rye, a staple item here) and hay. My guess is that the animals that are kept in Finland are all inside and probably at the outskirts of the cities though we never saw anything like it. We don’t eat meat in any case, but I can certainly testify that the cheese is lousy – and the opposite of the cheese in The Netherlands.
The ubiquitous forested roads in Finland – this is what you see for hours on end!
The Reindeer Man – he appears on the screen at the front of every intercity bus in Finland. Of course we had no idea what he was advising his clients!