Finns, at least older people, are fond of gambling. We have monopoly, or in the matter of fact three monopolies for gaming, RAY takes care of slot machines, Veikkaus is providing lotteries and FinnToto is the horse related tipping.
You can find slot machines in stores, restaurants, we have one (RAY) casino in Helsinki, and in some department stores you can find smaller (RAY) casino rooms. The is "reason" behind, RAY casino is the only one to use whole profit to charity. Veikkaus's supports art and sport with the profit and, suprice, Finntoto's profit goes to horse sport.
This video came is one of the most famous currently, called "Gold Jack" and you can win maximum 100 euros with 1 euro bet.
- Casino and Gambling
Christmas is the most important tradition to (Lutheran) Finns and there are old and new habits to celebrate it and last weeks before. One of the newest, imported from Germany, is Christmas Markets. Like other big towns here, Lappeenranta has it's own, starting just after indepence day, 7th Dec, and closing just before Christmas on 22nd Dec. Handicrqaft, Christmas decirations, wollen socs of course and special Finnish food is sold there. As you can see from photo, smoking is one of our specialities, you can select from list of smoked cheese, sausage, fish and meat. My recommendation is definitely smoked Fish, but be carefull, avoid cheap copies, select one from local producers and check that they use alder and juniper wood when smoking.
Opening times (2014):
You know, alcohol is strightly regulated in Finland and it's quite rare to have licence to sell it on markets, but that is possible here, so take a local glühvine, glogg as we call it here also.
Karelian Pies - Karjalanpiirakat
We have a strong Russian background, most of us are Fenno-Ugrian origin and our roots are in Ural and Siberia. In Karelian areas any type of pies are very common and this is the most famous. It is baked to rye flour (with some wheat only) and it is filled with rice porridge. Very simple to do, but like Indian curries there are only one and only producer making the best: your grandmother, and the second bests comes from your mother.
These are "cheap copies only" industrially produced, so, if you have friends here, ask if their grand mother can make some and you eat your tongue with. I update the photo to original (or to ones made by my sister, the third ones) when I have the next possibility.
Saipa - Local ice hockey team
You know, if you have followed my fight in Tampere, I was force to select my team between Ilves and Tappara. Ilves won, but here it is easier, there's only one team to select, like in North Korea, Saipa (Saimaan Pallo, "The ball of the Saimaa").
This is secret so, let's not tell this to anyone, but I remain Ilves fan and only follow Saipa with respect (they don't even have a dot com, like Ilves)!
(Photo is enclosed after I have seen my first game).
Because this is very seasonal product and the season is now over, hopefully forever, I placed this to local tips. You know, because of Ukrainian crisis EU has now sactions against Russia and Russia have anti sanctions against EU, some Finnish companies face product problems. One of the companies is Valio, producing milk products like cheese. They were prepared a lot of cheese to Russia's market and they couldn't export those to Russia. Instead of export they agreed with Finnish authorities that they could sell the products with Russian labels in Finnish market.
This kind of products got prefix Putin, so during some weeks you could buy Putin Cheese from largest Finnish markets like Prismas and City Market. I bought this Putin cheese from Lappeenranta's Prisma and the price/quality was extremely high. If I remember correctly, the price of this piece of cheese was 0,99 euros (the price was 3,69€ per kilo). Normally the biggest markets sell 100 000 in a month and now those were sold within a few hours.
The Oltermanni is one of the most sold cheeses in Finland, so it was not a surprise that the sale didn't last for a long time. This size was not sold in Finland, but after the campaign there are a lot of customer requirements to get it widely to daily offering.
Let's eat Vety and Atomi (Hydrogen and Atom :)
Lappeenranta is well known of Vety and Atomi (like Mustamakkara in Tampere or Lörtsy in Savonlinna).
The basis is the same, a meat pie (Lihapiirakka) and Vety contains ham and egg but Atomi only ham. The other ingredients (as we call them spices), according to your choice, are mustard, tomato paste, crushed cucumber, fresh onion and some (garlic) mayonnaise.
The best place for you is to get one from the Harbor area. It's a similar Must than Hod Dog in New York, but better :)
The Finns are very clear about where your doggie is allowed to go and where not. Like this "doggie parking" in front of a restaurant at the lakeside.
Well, those are Karelian pies, (karjalanpiirakka) they are common all over Finland but here in south Karjala they are the best, I never had such as good ones as I had in my hotel breakfast