Bicycles ... even in winter
Maybe someone will be hard to imagine how it can be possible by snow-capped roads in winter to ride by bike, but someone still can! Such a way of transport in winter is popular in northern Europe, where winters are usually snowy. Turku is not a exception.
Of course, not all cyclists are hungry for sharp feelings and many cycles are waiting for spring.
Local Central Tourist Office
This office is located very close to the river not far away from the cathedral. They can give you precious advice on what to visit in Turku and how to get there by public transport. They are experts not only on the town itself but also on the surroundings of Turku - the lake Littoistenjärvi and for instance the island Ruissalo. The people are nice and friendly. They give free maps and many types of brochures on the town. They speak English very good. They offer some souvenirs. They are in Aurakatu 4. Website: www.turku.fi
And now... a dip in the sea AFTER sauna!
As you may know, the Finns (and other people in Northern & Eastern Europe) have a weird habit that goes along with their sauna tradition: since the temperature within the sauna is really high and they cannot stand being inside for a very long time (even while drinking cold beer/cider), they come out after a while and plunge into the FREEZING water (in this case it was the ocean but it could be a lake too) and once they've lowered their body temperature they can go back inside the sauna for another while, then come back out and so forth. I understand that during the winter they roll over the snow instead..... BRRRRRRR!!!!
During my first visit to Finland I was invited to do this but I firmly refused..... I thought I would die of pneumonia if I did! I saw my friends do it but I was really afraid of doing it myself since I'm not used to it. On my second visit we were drinking and having fun and, since I already had a bad cold, I thought "What the heck...!" and I decided to jump in the water! It did feel ugly in the beginning, especially because I was too coward to jump inside in one motion (which is the best thing to do indeed) and I slowly entered the water until I finally allowed the water to cover my entire body & head -- so it felt worse. But it was a fun experience and I even did it twice! I never thought I'd gather the courage to do it but I finally experienced what it feels like and it was fun.
You may see in the picture how I was mercilessly attacked by one of my friends who started throwing cold water at me -- as if it wasn't enough to be already submerged in it!! This is quite a normal thing for them though....
- Adventure Travel
Watch out for moose... part 2!!!
During my first trip I could only catch a blurry image of one of these signs from a bus with my camera.... I was really hoping to have a picture of me taken beside one of these signs but it was not possible back then, and my friend & host told me that it was a "burnt" picture already (because another friend of ours HAD actually gotten one of her + the sign, taken by him too) so it would not have been original to have that pic of me taken anyway.
BUT.... I never gave up my hope and on my most recent trip I asked him to stop by the roadside while on our way to his seaside cottage and finally take the picture. He took TONS of pics with his camera and mine... and most of them turned out to be so nice!! The environment itself was really nice: we were next to a 2-lane road, very close to the woods and a field with many little flowers, on a very sunny summer day.... just us and nature.... and the sign!!! Too bad I didn't get to see a real moose in person, but I was so glad I got these pictures as a souvenir of my stay in Finland.
Tourists -- especially german, according to a Swedish friend of mine -- have been known to steal these traffic signs and take them back home as a souvenir. I could not believe this but some other friends of mine confirmed it because they saw one at an european friend's house. So funny!!! I only bought a cushion for my couch shaped and embroidered just as one of these signs, and I LOVE IT! It was a nice alternative to the real sign ;) I did not see them in Turku, but you can buy them in Helsinki (FIN) or Stockholm (SWE).
- Road Trip
- Adventure Travel
Watch for moose....
These signs are set up by Finnish (and Swedish) authorities on the roads around woody areas where moose are usually seen and could potentially cause an accident when crossing the road. There are many kilometers of roads protected by a metallic mesh that does not allow the animals to get close to the road, but this cannot be done everywhere and there are some stretches of road which are left unprotected. And if the authorities fail to make the drivers aware of this so that they can be extra careful in these areas and (unfortunately) there happens to be an incident, the authorities would be the ones to blame AND would have to pay for it. So they make sure there are signs put up everywhere! This was very interesting for me to know, as we don't have these animals in Mexico, and much less the authorities' concern about our safety! LOL....
I got a bunch of pictures taken with one of these traffic signs, please read the next tip for the whole story as well as a funny thing I happened to learn about them!
- Road Trip
- Adventure Travel
My personal "Aurora Borealis"
This is what I call my "personal Aurora Borealis".... a beautiful sunset at the Finnish countryside. This picture was taken at about 11 PM !!! And the sky wouldn't darken completely, even during the late night... This photo was taken while sleeping over at my friend's summer cottage by the sea, which is something that most finnish people have (not necessarily by the sea but in the woods too) and is very distinctive of their culture... A few days spent there let you see a big deal of their calm and natural way of living.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
A GENUINE Sauna!
Ok, remember I was just talking about summer cottages in Finland (please see my Rauma page for information)?? Well, most of them have a REAL sauna attached! This is also a very Finnish tradition and something they enjoy a lot (comprehensible, with their COLD weather!) and which is an important part of their lives... Here I am inside my friend's sauna, also next to the cottage by the sea.
It's important that you know that you will NOT go into a room full of steam where you can sit & chat for hours. This room will have a very high temperature (around 80° Celsius) and will make you sweat a lot, but will have almost no steam and you will very probably want to get out of it after 10-15 minutes at the most. You must go out to refresh yourself a little and then go back in if you wish. Finns even jump into the CHILLY COLD water or roll over on the snow in winter to "refresh" themselves and then go back into the sauna -- and the temperature change does not make them sick! Amazing!
Being in one of these rooms is an interesting experience, because it's not that easy to have a GOOD sauna and know everything there is to know about them! You must choose the rocks for the stove very carefully, to have the wood ready to light the fire and heat the water, enough space to sit and even to "shower" (after your sauna session is over), etc... The room will stay hot / warm for a LONG time!
Thanks Kalle for this nice pic :)
- Arts and Culture
Finland has two official languages. About 93 % of the population speaks Finnish, whereas Swedish is the mother tongue for 6 % of the people.
So all signs are bilingual in Finland. For example "Turku" is the Finnish and "Abo" is the Swedish name of Turku. Most of the Swedish speaking Finns live in the coastal areas of Finland.
- Budget Travel
No, "kiitos" in Finnish does not mean garbage or rubbish.
Kiitos means "Thank you." In Finnish, you will see many words with multiple or repeated vowels consecutively. This means you just say is a split second longer.
So "kitos" would be pronounced: "keeey-toss."
This tip has been brought to you by Hesburger ;--) .
- Road Trip
- Study Abroad
Ice Cream in Finland
Yes, like most places in the world, Finns love their ice cream. Here's a typical ice cream on a cone you can purchase in front of Turku's Main Library which allows you 30 minutes of free internet access.
- Food and Dining
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
Where to Mail Postcards When in Finland
Unlike the post offices in America where the interiors are generally dusty, old, rundown, and the overall energy is grey, dull, and lifeless, in Finland, the post offices are warm, friendly, fast services, and colorful.
You can spot a mail box, post office, or mail carrier car with by spotting anything bright orange such as this mailbox where I sent a post card to my father.
- Women's Travel
- Family Travel
Sauna, a national institution ;-)
You simply have to try it !
I was not really keen on trying it myself, I doubted that sitting in a hot place could do me any good, I was affraid I would suffocate... But then I thought, "oh well, lets do it once at least". There was a sauna in our friend Alain's building, so we just had to write our names on the list, and let's go ! Well, I liked it a lot !!!! It is amazing how good you feel afterwards ! The room seemed so cute to me, with the little wooden benches, and so clean !! I really enjoyed it.
We didn't dare to take our camera with us, so this picture was taken right after the sauna.
In Scandinavia door locks or keys often have to be turned contrary to how you are used to turning them to open or close a door. For example, in Germany a door with a door handle on the right side is usually locked by turning the key clockwise, whereas in Scandinavia you might have to turn it anti-clockwise.
- Budget Travel
Salt on porridge
You go away on holiday and you think , yeah i'm going to try everything , live like a local and all that rubbish , then you get lured down the pitch and stumped by something totally random like salt on porridge.
Porridge in the U.K has sugar , syrup and jam on it but not normally salt . Therefore you get confronted by salty porridge , while suffering from a 40 cigarette hangover and you chew a bit while trying not to gag , and your host notices your discomfort and exclaims " not enough salt eh? " and loads more on. Longest half hour of my life.
Dressing up for Vappu
Everyone wears their white hats and the students wear their overalls and it's definately the day for dressing up , streamers are popular , as are wigs , wizard hats and all kinds of other fancy dress gear.
All of which falls off , gets lost , or stolen by drunk Finnish girls.