As a continuation to my previous Heinävesi cottage tip I just wanted to continue, that there are so many things people can do. Many people might have the feeling that they don't want to come to the quiet simple places for too long time; and that they would bore in a few days.
I wouldn't believe so, as one can swim, play with swim tools, sunbath (weather permitting), take the sauna baths every day, barbeque, read, do nothing, relax, get familiar with the neighbourhood, taste local specialities and so on.
My holidays, even two weeks, have always passed two quickly and I find it hard to return to the city life.
The log house living is something, which will remain in your fondest memories forever. It is such a special and different feeling for especially those coming far away and not familiar to the culture. I've traveled soon to 50 countries but my fonderst memories and my most relaxed feelings are from Finnish log houses. And what if it rains - it doesn't matter. You may put fire to the fireplace, take a good book and a glass of your favorite drink. Swimming in the lake when raining is real fun - and water feels warmer.
You can freely choose anything from a very primitive log house with no inside facilities to a very modern log house having a bathroom with shower, oven, microvawe, TV, all the same things as at home. It depends on how much money you are ready to put on it.
Anyhow, every log house have the Finnish sauna.
Look at my pictures and find out how surprisingly many-sided a vacation like this can be and what can you do!
When you rent, it is good to take into consideration and ask before booking e.g. the following things: 1) the amenities like mentioned above 2) does it have full kitchen stuff to cook 3) sauna? 4) rowing boat or motor boat? 5) fishing permit if you like fisihing 6) fire place 7) to what direction the cottage and its terrace are - if you are an early morning person, you might have the garden (and sunshine) coming from east, but if you are an afternoon-evening person, then rather towards west. 8) What is the "beach" like; is it sand, rock or something else. Is it steeply deepening or very slowly (important for those having kids). Usually the renter tells everything (honest people) and on-site they come and show some things. But still, to be on the safe side, do ask, as these people might keep something as self-evident.
To get a log house for rent, in addition to the means mentioned below, you also can, if you know a Finn, you can ask him/her to watch the Helsinki area main newspaper as cottage owners put ads there, and they are much cheaper than to rent via some chain.
The centre of Heinävesi hosts a summer outside market place with open air coffeehouse. In summer there is also a beer festival.
One of the small villages of Heinävesi hosts every year a local happening named "Palokki Koskiwestivual"; meaning Palokki Rapids Festival. It sounds proud and big; but it is so sweet and small - locals play their harmonicas and sing, there are simple competitions - but they open the rapids. Also some local food is for sale at very cheap price.
If you want to dance and wonder where to do it here far from real civilization - there is a place worth seeing: "Sarvikummun lava". It is an old-fashioned place where women still wear their summer dresses and high heel shoes, men try to dress - if not a tie, then at least pants, no shorts, and a skirt (also coloured OK) with a collar. They dance everything except the youth music of the 21th century - they waltz, dance tango, foxtrot, some Finnish dances, polka, perhaps some old rock'n'roll and disco later on.
They don't sell alcohol there, but according to a very funny and dozens of years old Finnish habit (men), men go out to "cool down" or "having a cigarette" or something. They actually go and open their/someone's car's trunk(s), take bottle of vodka or some beer and drink it up. Even we Finns have many jokes about this stupid Finnish habit.
The "rantakalailta" is much waited: locals make outside by the lake a huge pot full of a kind of a fish dish which is super delicious. It is made of fresh vendace/white fish, water, potatoes, onion and lots of salt and butter. It is often eated as such (soup) with rye bread.
Heinävesi is one of my favorite towns in summer; it might even be number one. It has a numerous amount of summer cottages/log houses to rent, yet you can't see your neighbours and have your own peace. You may fish, swim, take sunbath, just relax, or go to visit the Monastery and Nunn Convent, see the canals, visit the cosy little souvenir shops.
Or you can drive to quite a big shop selling only herbs and tea and health products, all hand made by them there in Heinävesi, Finland. The place is called "Heinäveden Yrttipaja", it's in the middle of nowhere so you need a car and a map where someone has marked this place.
Also one of Finland's most respected ceramics and set of dishes/dinner set manufacturers is there in Heinävesi. It is called "Kerman Savi". They often have sales on summertime, and a second-hand room where they sell good stuff at amazingly reasonable price. Just because there might be some minor deficiency in the product.
If you want to see something unique, go to Heinävesi (equally far from Varkaus and Kuopio, the bigger cities). The several channes, canals, with the old-fashioned "floodgates" are a sight. This place is one of a kind in Finland.
Even I enjoy watching the gates closing behind a boat and opening in front of it so that water can fill in the canal and lift the boat up to the next level.
The most famous of the canals are Taivallahti, Varistaipale and Karvio.
In the small kiosk like building there is a small museum; open at least at summertime.
In addition the Old Valamo Monastery for Monks, there is another similar place; but for orthodox women: the Lintula Convent. It is also located in the Heinävesi area (but separate from the Monastery). Lintula is located in the village of Palokki.
The Lintula is very charming; it is small at size and very pretty inside. The Nunns were very helpful and smiling all the time. They kept a little souvenir shop, where you could buy your lucky angel or icon or candle related things.
There is a little separate praying house, "tsasouna", in the yard.
I could feel the peace and balance of souls as I entered the place. When I came out, I felt like I weigh 20 kilos less!
I had to put this tip either under the city of Varkaus (which I did) or Kuopio, because the town of Heinävesi was not found in the list of VT cities. It's understandable; the place is quite small but summertime its population grows enormously.
In the Heinävesi area there is lot of things to be seen. One of them is the New Valamo Monk Monastery (the original old one is now in the old Finnish area taken by Russia in WWII). The Monastery is an orthodox Monastery.
What is special in the monastery area, is the fact that they offer summertime accommodation for a reasonable price. You don't have to be religious to stay overnight there; just normally obey the area rules (don't yell, dress properly etc.).
Even though the monks don't drink, they make good wines and there is a souvenir shop from where you can buy their wines and e.g. small icons and angel figures.
Varkaus is located in between lakes and it's best sight is the beautiful nature. One of the nicest ways of taking a tour is by an original steamer ship, the s/s Paul Wahl. They are in operation from late May til October. They have a cafe and restaurant onboard but any food reservations must be made in advance.
I didn't know what to expect when we went to this museum. Another place with dusty old things...but I couldn't have been more wrong. I only knew that there was a collection of old mechanical instruments, but I was not prepared to the tour or one could call it a show. The owners German born Juergen Kempf and his Finnish wife Liisa have this museum in a lovely old stone house a couple of km from the centre of Varkaus. I can highly recommend this museum to you, it really is worth a visit. The staff speaks Finnish, Swedish, English and German.
and you browse through it during the tour. A new tour starts every hour and you can join it in the middle of it and continue exploring with the next tour. You won't miss any items because you can always continue with another group.
Their collection is a result of over 30 years of collecting items. Some of the items are rare and there are only a couple or only one of them left in the world.
The collection of this museum is not owned by the city of Varkaus, state of Finland or any other public institution but Juergen and Liisa Kempf.