Environment shapes culture. Almost 80% of Finland is forested, there is an outdoor culture here: cycling,hiking, swimming, skiing, hunting, boating fishing and foraging. Finns make the most of what they have.
Presented with a breathtaking landscape of lakes, islands, forests and farms, we cycle across the lumpy rolling countryside on mostly quite back roads, over wooden bridges , beside fields of wheat, barley, oats or rye, while potatoes, turnips, beetroot and lupins create a luminous green blanket against the white speckled blue sky
Wildflowers abound at the roadside verge: Violas, primulas, anemones, cosmos, dandelions and cornflowers, are set off against the majestic stands of birch, fir , pine
spruce or oak.
Jackdaws chatter amount themselves while barnacle geese honk angrily at flocks of fluttering pheasants. We keep a keen eye out for Elk, but settle instead on wild dear gambolling along the tree line .
Cycling the ancient Kings Road between Helsinki and Turku we eat like royalty. Snacking on Vendance (lightly battered whole whitebait) scoffing platefuls of butter sautéed chanterelles (seasonal orange mushrooms) Elk burgers (You want fries with that?) along with all manner of fish, baked boiled, smoked, fried and pickled, leaving no room for the reindeer kebab. Rudolph will be pleased. Soft fruit is in full season. I sampled the rare (expensive) sublime cloudberries, hand picked in the wet northern forest region, ate fresh cherries and currents from the roadside, gulped freshwater by cool streams, whilst drinking in the rich heavily scented natural aromas.
Ahh cycle touring in Europe!
The Finnish invented the sauna, its a healthy daily ritual for many. However, a pleasure I denied myself. Being too old , provincial and repressed to sit around naked with strangers in a steam room!
Finland has a rich diverse cultural history, dating back thousands of years , coupled with a sophisticated vibrant present.
Killing time at the ubiquitous McDonalds in Turku (Free internet), I’m drawn to a quartet of women in oversized velvet skirts with colourful blouses. I was thinking they were part of a pantomime group, but discovered instead they were Finnish Kale, a local group of Romani, in their traditional dress, A gaggle of Death Metal devotees in the adjoining booth don’t bat an eyelid , resplendent in black with their pentangle motif ” God is Good , Satan is Super ”
Finland has provided a tantalising appetiser to Scandinavia, its suitable for the adventurous and independent traveler or intrepid cycle tourist .
Kiitos (Thanks ) Finland .