Wednesday 27 July
Intoxicating Air Guitars, Oulu
The one thing that strikes you about Finland, is the lack of traffic. Today, we drove for several hours and it was a case of spot the car. It was only when we arrived at Oulu (a big town) at peak time did we finally pass some vehicles. Generally speaking, Finnish families only have one car and more often than not, they will cycle or walk, which became apparent when we arrived at the marina. Hundreds of bicycles everywhere (sorry not many photo’s as we left the camera in Vin)
The town of Oulu is an industrial town but in recent years regenerations schemes and investment in to the city has seen the town prosper. All along the water front are new apartment blocks with walk ways and plenty water sports facilities like ‘kneel boards’. A surf board that you knee on and paddle. Some of the youngsters made it look quite easy but to me, it looks like a disaster splash waiting to happen. Think we will give it a miss until we hit the Mediterranean sea. The marina with a stepped terrace provided a nice seating area for people to chill and relax after work. Further along a renovated warehouse area with local food stalls and the odd bar with a local band playing some local songs. All in all a pleasant area made all the better for a little sunshine.
Busy preparing our evening meal when a tap tap on the door. Craig jumped up only too happy to say hello and boy did he regret it. The next half an hour I stopped in the motorhome laughing my socks off as Craig tried desperately to escape. An intoxicated Finnish lady tried to engage in conversation and when that failed, she then went on to try and sell Craig a vase. Eventually, she gave up and Craig returned rather red faced. Maybe she’d had a few too many at the annual air guitar festival.
Our wild camping spot in a pleasant park area at the side of a small marina. Boats bobbing and duck waddling…life feels pretty damn good!
Wild Camping GPS position N065.009421 E025.454109
Route: Kemi to Oulu
Weather: Low 20, High 32 summer is here, yeah.
Thursday 28 July
Paddle in the Baltic, Oulu
The sun already high in the sky, penetrated through the motorhome blinds. It was quite warm even though it was still early in the day. One of the things you don’t think about is the fact 24 hours of day light means it stays pretty warm most of the time. Yes, it drops a few degrees but that’s about it.
We left the little ducklings by the waters edge and tootled off towards the coast. On route, we stopped at a Lidl…we like our Lidl’s and stocked up with a few more goodies. Then over to the post office were the young assistant asked if the UK was still in the EU! The young girl was really unsure, bless. She needed to know because the rate for in or out the EU varied. Post sorted, at the cheap rate for now, we bumbled off along the tree lined road.
Finland lays at the most eastern part of Europe. About 70% of the land is covered by forest and about 10% is under water, so only 20% is inhabited or farmed. There are vast areas of uninterrupted forests and woodlands, with tens of thousands of square kilometres of untouched terrain.
It is extremely pretty but at times it does get to you….and clearly today it got to Craig. About half way through the journey he had a spontaneous moment playing an air guitar and having a boogie. Highly entertaining and certainly a break from tree hugging.
We arrived at the village of Kalajoki and noticed a colourful building, a church and some lovely tendered lawns. We got so exited at the prospect of seeing something cultural or historical. We parked up and ran over like giddy kippers only to arrive and find it shut at 4pm…it was 4.01pm! Having all this day light messes with your sense of time! We wandered around the outside and peaked inside through the windows.
Back in Vin and we moved a towards the coast passing lake after lake. There are more lakes in Finland than in any other country in the world. In fact, we read there are some 187,888 lakes, 5,100 rapids and 179,584 islands.
As we arrived at the coast our first reaction was wow, this place is stunning. We travelled through a forest area with beautiful log cabins. Each one unique and set in their own area of the forest. Then a small hotel on the beach. A little further along a water park then a supermarket then some more cabins all of them nicely situated within the forest, so as not to spoil the landscape. We hugged the beach and followed the coastline around to the headland. Perfect..handbrake on, sandals on and off to the beach we trot.
The beaches are brilliant with lots of little bays. First a stroll in to the forest, a toot at the wood cabins, hike over duckboards and trek over the sand dunes. The dudes were running wild and loving it royal style. Finally we strolled on a thin strip of sand and walked right out to sea. Next minutes the dogs darted in to the sea and went for a swim. Chasing the waves and darting around. They thoroughly enjoyed it. I even rolled up my leggings and went in for a paddle. Glad to report the water was rather warm.
Back at base and a rub down for the dudes before they are allowed in the van. Mac is in full moult mode and with every brush stroke you end up with your hand covered in fur. A drop of PVA glue on the hand, rub his neck and sure enough we’d have furry mittens for winter. With the sunshine the dudes were soon dry and fluffy and enjoying a Finnish pork & fennel sausage sprinkled with Royal Canine biscuits. Spoilt or what!
We’d not been sat down long when Jenny and Creighton arrived. We shared stories, past and present, only to discover they did a 12 month tour of Europe when their children were young. Some fascinating stories of their home education adventure including a most memorable sailing from Greece to Turkey.
Our wild camping spot, right on the beach front with stunning views of the Baltic sea
Wild Camping GPS position N064.233892 N023.788238
Route: Oulu to Kalajoki
Weather: Low 20, High 32 summer is here, yeah.