INTRODUCTION TO FINLAND
Best place to live
Newsweek draw this conclusion based on health, economics, education, political environment and quality of life. Not only does Finland rank first overall, it is also the best small country, the best high-income country and the best country for education. Whether this is due to the climate we let for you to decide.
“It’s difficult to get close to a Finn, but once they warm up to you, they’re very nice, sincere and trustworthy. I find it inspiring to be with Finns.” – Deanna, Tennessee.
“Yes, yes, and again yes! I’d absolutely love to come again. This country offers so many opportunities, and there’s so much to discover.” – Marianne, Namibia.
Experience Finnish nature – pure adventure
Let the nightless nights, mirror-smooth lakes, foaming rapids and tranquility of nature capture your soul. Why not rent a cabin with a sauna next to a lake and experience the Finnish dream for a week? Wild North is Finland’s most versatile nature adventure tour operator. Their accommodation possibilities around Finland range from wilderness cabins to luxury cottages. Wilderness cabins are traditional types of lodging surrounded by nature and fitted with only basic amenities for fishing, hunting or hiking trips.
More information: http://www.villipohjola.fi/sivustot/villipohjola/en/Sivut/default.aspx
What about Finnish sauna? – Be courageous and say yes
Sauna is an essential part of Finnish culture and a place of tranquillity to be approach with respect. For generations sauna was a place where people were both born and prepared for their last earthly quest. It is estimated that there are two million saunas all over Finland. Companies and institutions have their own saunas. Unlike in many parts of the world the purpose is to throw water on a basket of rocks heated by the wood or electric stove.
Basic etiquette is simple. You first take your clothes off – using swimming trunks is acceptable for foreigners – and shower before going in. Otherwise, there are few rules. You can take refreshing shower or pop in the lake now and then. You may also be handed a bunch of birch branches with which to flagellate yourself. This stimulates the blood circulation and gives a fresh aroma.
Midsummer – where’s everyone, what’s all this light?
Finnish summer does arrive every year after the long period of darkness and cold. This reflects also in the Finnish people – we truly want to make the most of our summer. The awakening, especially in the north, is impressive. Birds return from far away countries and trees fill with leaves.
In the cities the silence can surprise the visitors. It is particularly quiet during Midsummer in late June when most Finns migrate to the countryside, lake or seashore for burning bonfires, couple of saunas and generally having fun. Midsummer is when the sun is at its highest and shines the longest. In most of the country, especially in the north, the sun does not set at all, or just drops briefly below the horizon before rising again. We have discovered that July is the best holiday month. Finns move to their summer cottages with a sauna or rent one for a week or for the whole vacation. They offer a place to relax – to stare at the calm waters, think deep and live a simple life.
July in also the time for the great summer festivals, with Savonlinna Opera Festival and Pori Jazz among the most internationally acknowledged events. Finnish summer bursts with all kinds of events for those with cultural appetite.
Finland at the border of east and west
Until the middle of the 12th century the area now Finland was a political vacuum, though interesting to Sweden and the Catholic Church, and Novgorod and the Greek Orthodox Church. Even raging Vikings avoided treacherous Finnish waters and deep forests occupied by tribes with magical powers. Sweden came out on top, as the peace treaty assigned eastern Finland to Novgorod.
As a consequence of Swedish domination, the Swedish systems took eventually root in Finland. Feudalism was never part of this system and the Finnish retained their freedom, although often heavily taxed and thrown around in the turmoil of internal and external conflicts.
The Reformation reached Sweden and Finland, and the Catholic Church consequently lost out to the Lutheran faith. Thanks to the Reformation written Finnish was created in the mid of 16th century, and during the resulting War of Religions in Central Europe the thankful Swedish king let the Finns used his coat of arms still in use.
Russia conquered Finland in the 1808–1809 war. Finland became an autonomous Grand Duchy, which proved to be crucial step on the way towards independency more than a century later. More troublesome times at the turn of 20th century ended in one of the most radical parliamentary reforms in Europe as Finland moved to a unicameral parliament and universal suffrage. Finnish women were the first in Europe to gain the right to vote.
Parliament approved the declaration of independence in 1917. However, it took a bitter civil war before Finland became a republic. 20 years later the young nation was tested when it stood practically alone but unified in the Winter War against the Soviet Union for the legendary 3.5 months. Later in 1941 Finland entered in the “Continuation War” as a cobelligerent with Germany when Germany attacked the Soviet Union. This war ended in armistice in September 1944.
During the era of Cold War, the Finnish presidents worked to increase Finland's latitude in foreign policy by pursuing neutrality. The upheaval of the 1980´s and 1990´s led to a more liberalized atmosphere. Eventually, Finland became EU member in 1995.
HELSINKI – NATION’S CAPITAL
1.2 million inhabitants have packed in Helsinki and the surrounding metropolitan area including cities of Espoo, Kauniainen and Vantaa. Helsinki is the natural location of both government and trade. In addition, Helsinki was the World Design Capital in 2012. More information about the sights and services in Helsinki can be found: http://www.helsinki.fi/eng/
Helsinki Week 7–15 June 2013 kick-starts the summer http://www.helsinkiviikko.fi/en/home
Taste of Helsinki – Gourmet food and wine festival in Finland 13-16.6.2013 http://www.tasteofhelsinki.fi/en/
Great possibility to test a wood-heated Finnish Sauna (bring your own swim suit if you wish to dip in the sea): http://www.kulttuurisauna.fi/
PLACES TO SEE AND EXPERIENCE OUTSIDE OF HELSINKI:
Espoo – unique combination of regional centres and wilderness
The city of Espoo, established 1972, has grown rapidly to become the second largest city in Finland with a population of ca. 250 000. There is no clear centre in the city, but five regional centres, each size of a medium-sized Finnish city. It is easy to get around Espoo. In addition to public transport, you can hire a car or a bike. If you like to see Espoo from different kind of angle, choose a cruise and get to know Espoo inshore.
Espoo's nature is an astonishing experience offering beauty and tranquillity. The unspoiled nature of Nuuksio National Park is worth exploring only few miles away from the hectic city life. There are almost 30 kilometres of trekking trails. If you are lucky you might catch a glimpse of a bear also known to visit Nuuksio.
Haltia - The Finnish Nature Centre http://www.haltia.com/en
Too wild? Choose a guided architectural tour and see a building designed by Alvar Aalto or join a theme cruise in Espoo archipelago. Please have a look at http://www.visitespoo.fi/visitors_guide.
Close to the venue
Exhibition centre WeeGee, Ahertajantie 5, Espoo
Espoo museum of modern art, Ahertajantie 5, Espoo
The Gallen-Kallela museum, Gallen-Kallelantie 27, Espoo
Angry birds showroom & shop at Rovio’s headquarters
Keilaranta 17, Espoo
A scheduled boat carries you swiftly to and from the islands in Espoo archipelago. Departs from Otaniemi.
Nature trails & bird-watching
Porvoo – jewel of a town just an hour from Helsinki
Porvoo has lots to offer all year round. Picturesque Porvoo, the second-oldest town in Finland, invites exploration and offers historical treasures, design shops, fashion and fine dining.
The town's main landmark is Saint Mary's Cathedral, a building with origins in the late 13th century. The aroma of tar hangs in the air in and around the cathedral, a reminder that it has been bombed, burgled and burned several times – most recently in 2006 in an arson fire.
The cathedral is surrounded by a charming old town where some houses are several hundred years old and still standing strong. Porvoo once held status as an important cultural centre, and many significant historical figures lived and worked in the town.
Hanko – Finland’s southernmost town
Hanko is a cosy small town accessible from Helsinki by train or car. Hanko offers nice accommodation by the sea, excellent restaurants and small cafes. You can also visit the small boutiques in the pedestrian street in downtown Hanko. Hanko is regarded as the sunniest place in Finland, and as a seashore town it offers some 30 km of beaches. On the way to Hanko by car you can also visit the the medieval Raseborg Castle founded at the end of the 14th century.
More information: http://tourism.hanko.fi/2007/?pid=&lang=en
Tampere – all bright and alive
With a population of well over 200,000, Tampere is the largest inland city in the Nordic countries easily accessible by car or train from Helsinki within two hours. Founded in 1779 on the banks of the Tammerkoski Rapids, Tampere evolved into the most industrialised locality in Finland during the 19th century. Thanks to the new city planning, former industrial areas are alive again: cafés, restaurants, shops, cinemas, museums and galleries.
There is a lot to see in Tampere: original Finnish architecture, breathtaking lake sceneries, magnificent glacial ridges, beautiful parks and lush forests right next to the city centre - and what could be better than a lake cruise on a beautiful summer’s day?
More information: http://www.visittampere.fi/tampereallbright
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