On the shores of Lake Saimaa
When you talk of a "trip to Finland" what immediately springs to mind is Lapland, the wondrous Aurora Borealis, sledding, reindeer and of course Santa Claus!
But there are equally beautiful places like Lapland that are still completely unknown to most Europeans. One such region is Mikkeli: just three hours by train or bus from Helsinki you can reach the lovely town of Mikkeli on the shores of Lake Saimaa, the largest lake of Finland.
Despite the beauty of this country many people pass on the opportunity of visiting Finland because of extreme winter temperatures. The locals are accustomed to it and it is not surprising to see cyclists traverse icy road sections without hesitation. Cover yourself with warm clothing and heavy and waterproof footwear: this is the only rule to follow to avoid suffering the cold and then you can really enjoy this beauty of this land.
In the town of Mikkeli it’s worth visiting the Cathedral located in the city centre and tasting Finnish specialities thanks to local restaurants like Bistro Vilee, known for his use of local products and fresh fish.
Mikkeli is a great base for exploring the entire region both by public transport and car rental. One of the most picturesque and quiet places to see is the small village of Puumala, on the shores of Lake Saimaa. Here you can enjoy the hospitality of Sahanlahti, a lovely lodge situated on the shores of the lake: the ideal place to spend whole day in total relaxation surrounded by nature and silence. The staffs are welcoming and friendly: Mrs. Jaana treats her guests like old friends. Breakfast with sunrise over the lake makes the whole trip worthwhile.
If you'd like to try the experience of ice fishing, Mrs. Jaana is the right person to ask for some info: you can fish for salmon, trout and perch. Once on the frozen surface of the lake and a hole is drilled with a tool, all you need to do is throw the hook and wait. This is not the most extreme sport you might enjoy, but to fish by yourself your own meal gives you a lot of satisfaction.
Leaving Sahanlahti, a few kilometres from Puumala you can find Niinisaari Island, reachable by car through a small ferry: an enchanting and isolated place, with only 100 inhabitants, and among them the family of Martti, one of only two makers of axes of Finland: he builds manually axes, knives and various tools and by appointment you can also visit his workshop.
His wife Sanna deals instead of accompanying tourists in snowshoe through the forest up to the shores of the Lake; a magical experience, surrounded by stillness and total silence. This is the ideal place to rediscover yourself and break away from the stresses of every day life.
Finland isn't just snow and good food, this land has also old traditions and beliefs linked to the spirits of the forest, which you can learn with Guide-Tiina mystical tour and in total harmony with nature.
Where to stay:
Sahanlahti Resort – a familiar and welcoming environment. Here you can also try the wood-burning sauna experience.
Anttolanhovi: a resort located on the shores of the Lake, with villa for 6 people and a sauna inside. Beautiful and innovative design in harmony with the natural surroundings.
Written by Marco Allegri, nonsoloturisti.it
Independent travel and adventure blogger