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Helsinki - Jyväskylä - Oulo, we see mainly forests

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Thursday 20 June, Helsinki - Jyväskylä - Oulo, we see mainly forests

Squirrel near our cabinWhen we wake up we find game behind our cabin: a wild squirrel who is just minding his own affairs. But when we come too close, he runs away. Soon we have packed our car and are on our way to the north. First we visit Heinola, a small town with a pleasant market. The weather is nice, it is quite warm and we have a cup of coffee on the market square, we buy some fruit, and then we start looking for the water tower. From there one should have a superb view over the surrounding area. But when we finally find the tower, we have to pay a fee because there is an orchid nursery garden in the tower. We look at the trees around us and they seem to be pretty high, maybe as high as the tower. So we don't climb this tower and go on our way. Our Dutch neighbours (as we call them now) tell us later that day, it really isn't worth the climb nor the money.
From Heinola we drive back to the south a bit and then take all sorts of small roads. According to the map we are in a region with lots of lakes, but we don't see much of them. It's mostly woods, woods, more trees and more woods, with a lot of bare trunks. Acid rain? Or a consequence of the nuclear distaster at Tsjernobyl? Well, it doesn't look very healthy, that is for sure. A Dutch man, Bart Braafhart, who is living in Finland for years, sent us an email, saying: The bare trunks are generally not a result of acid rain, but many people keep thinking that. They are bare because the lower side of the trees don't get much sunlight. Dead trees mostly have died a natural death of old age (not in the woods which are being cut, of course). And Tsjernobyl had almost no consequences for Finland.
Endless woods LakeWe drive around to find a nice picnic-place, but everywhere there are houses and traffic goes on and off. After dozen of kilometres on sandy paths we finally find a nice spot near a lake, but even then a car is passing every five minutes.
PicknickWe are glad we like woods, otherwise this country would be unbearable after a few days. But it is amazing that in a big country with so few people we see habitation everywhere. We make a fantastic trip through the woods and sometimes we see a real village. But despite all the lakes that surround us, according to the map, we don't see much of them.
Log cabin at JyväskyläIt is still quite warm when we arrive at Jyväskylä, where we have a cabin near a lake. Until 12 at night people jump into it, as if it were high summer. Well, it is, certainly for the people here. Our Dutch neighbours have also arrived. We have a short talk with them and get to know they are from Purmerend, somewhere near Amsterdam. They keep to themselves, as we do, so we like them. But it is quite funny how people slowly can learn about each other on a trip like this.
At night it doesn't get dark anymore and we screen the windows with quilts, blankets and towels. But it is quite late before we turn in, because it is still very light.

Friday 21 June 2002, and more woods

The temperature isn't bad today, but it is cloudy and sometimes it seems as if rain will be falling soon. But it doesn't fall when we are heading to Vaala. At least, Vaala it would be, we thought. But our Dutch neighbours told us they first had a reservation for Vaala but that it had been changed; so we looked at our itinerary and we also have a change of plan. This has to do with the festival of he midsummernight, the most important celebration in Scandinavia. All campsites have been booked by locals long before we did.
And again we pass hundreds of lakes without seeing a bit of them.
Church at ReisjärviIn Reisjärvi we pass this church as the most interesting building on our journey today, although we try hard to find other places as well. Even when we are looking for a nice place to have lunch and drive on sandy paths it is hard to find a nice spot near a lake. We like Finland for its woods, but of the 50,000 lakes we have passed now, we have only seen 5! In fact, Finland falls a bit short on our expectations: we expected a somewhat more rough nature, but the woods are straigth and reforested and the roads are long and straight without much alternation. And in this country of lakes we see see very little of them. Or is it a joke of a cartographer who has drawn all these imaginarily lakes on his map?
We are now on our way to Kalajoki, located at the Botnic Gulf; wherever it is possible we take side roads and enjoy the woods; but probably one has to stay on one spot for a longer time to get a glimmer of one of the 100,000 lakes Finland claims to have.
When we are one kilometre away of the camping at Kalajoki, we come across a traffic jam and it takes more than an hour to arrive at the gate of the camping. The roads are filled with drunken youths, stalls and youths who want to get drunk as soon as possible. At the reception of the camping we are told it would be better for us if we would seek another place to stay and they want to give us our money back. We would like to attend this great festival, but we don't like all these drunks (at four in the afternoon) and decide we take our money (€ 50) and look for another place to stay.
Fortunately, it is still early (and light) and we drive to Kempele, more than hundred kilometres to the north, a bit south of Oulu. We find a motel which also costs € 50, but now we have a shower, streaming water and our own private bathroom! We miss the party, but at least we get some rest this night. Also we can change some of our Dutch euro's for Finnish ones; we had promised some Dutch friends to take back Finnish euro's. After the owner tells us almost every year someone gets killed at the festival at Kalajoki, we are really happy we didn't stay there.


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