Sunday 25th June
As always when we’ve spent the night before at a proper campsite, we had a really slow start to the day. We spent hours putting down the tent, making brunch, admiring the view and using the free wifi (which reached all the way to our tent and the beach – amazing!)
We were partly dragging our feet because we had no plan, except to drive vaguely south. After looking up some hikes, we picked one at random and put it into the sat nav. On the drive south we stopped at Vaala to visit our first Finish supermarket! I always find foreign supermarkets fascinating. Morgan avoids the unexpected surprises by translating the packaging, but I like the lucky dip approach to shopping. I found a delicious looking cheese which looked kinda like halloumi, so of course I bought it, thinking we could stir fry it with some veg and noodles.
A wonderful thing about Finland is its Skyr selection! Skyr is the best yoghurt in the world, and it constantly upsets me how few flavours of it they sell in England. In Finland so far, we’ve tried coconut, mango & melon, pear & vanilla and crème brulee flavoured Skyr and each one was a work of art. If the overlords of Skyr are reading this, please send all these flavours to the UK immediately. Ta.
Between the cheese and the yoghurt buying, I spent so long in the supermarket that Morgan made a friend in the car park.
A random man knocked on the car window, where Morgan was waiting with Lex (because dogs aren’t allowed in supermarkets, only one of us can ever go into a shop at one time). Over the din of Lex’s barks, the man delightedly struck up a conversation. He’d spotted the “GB” sticker on the back of the car, and simply had to check if an actual English person had come here, to this random Finnish backwater. He explained that he was from Birmingham, but married a Finnish woman 17 years ago and has lived here ever since – A story which was confirmed by a quirky Brum/Finnish accent.
“No one ever comes here!” he said, in a tone of amazement. “I’ve never seen another English person here… there’s just no reason to come here!”
Despite the man’s incredulity, his wife came and gave us a recommendation for a national park in the area, which sounded pretty great. So, based on her advice, we abandoned our original plan and drove to the place she’d scribbled onto a torn-out diary page: Rokua. She told us “there are cabins there too”, but we didn’t know exactly what that meant at the time.
Turns out, many of the national parks in Finland have networks of small “wilderness huts” offering shelter to hikers. We found a spot in the middle of the deserted forest with three huts: One with a firepit, one full of firewood, and one with a dry bio-toilet. Pleased with our location on the edge of lake Kirvesjärvi, we set up camp there for the night.
We set about cooking dinner, frying the cheese we thought was a sort of halloumi and adding it to a pan with some stir fried veg. We quickly realised it was not at all like halloumi. It was instead more like mozzarella, and the neatly chopped up cubes quickly melted back into one big cheesy blob, which we ate with noodles anyway. Fortunately, cheese is delicious in all circumstances.
Later that night, Morgan made us an excellent fire and we spent the evening in our wilderness hut, watching the flames crackle and listening to the heavy rain and thunder outside. It really felt like we were in the middle of nowhere, and there wasn’t a soul to be seen all night except for the 3 of us. And all the mosquitoes, of course, because it’s just not Scandinavia if there aren’t a thousand bugs trying to drink your blood all night long.
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