It´s difficult to remain unmoved when visiting Finland. Admittedly, Helsinki is probably not the most breathtaking European capital but in its own personal way it totally reflects Suomi culture as a whole: shy in an intriguing way, quiet and with lots more that initially meets the eye. We stayed with Laura, a fellow cyclist and great host who made us feel perfectly welcomed in her shared flat although we were totally exhausted from all the preparation, moving and trip. Similarly to us, Laura loves cycling in an indescribable kind of way and is always thinking about the next trip. She´ll be heading to Rome soon !
Our first day was a little nerve-racking since we had no idea of what to expect. We knew that the Finns are well behaved on the road but we weren’t really sure about what the road was going to be like: mega busy, narrow, unprepared for the gentle two wheels, … ? Lots of worry for nothing, the reality is that the first day was totally safe and uneventful, that is, if you don’t take into consideration the amazing bakery and coffee shop we stumbled upon in the middle of nowhere (which conveniently sheltered us from a heavy downpour) and the feeling of finally, after so long being on the road in the fresh, timid, Scandinavian spring.
Maybe one thing which immediately left us gobsmacked was the extensive network of cycle paths which radiates from all urban centres, no matter their size, which gives one regular mental solace from the fully concentrated state of mind in which a cyclist is normally absorbed. Anyway, having lived in ¨southern¨ Europe most of our life, we find this aspect of cycling in Finland absolutely and utterly fantastic !
The first day also brought along another unexpected surprise; our hosts in Porvoo were Kaisa and Christofer, very much like Laura, passionate travelers but on a different level: not only are they multi-disciplined, loving their two wheeled friends as much as the next cyclist, but also passionate paddlers. More to come on this amazing couple in future entries but meanwhile, check out their fabulous blog; www.pointlesssuffering.com
Personally, another pleasant surprise was the road/museum 3513 which connects Hamina and Virolahti. Yes, road/museum. We got a quick explication from our lovely last host in Finland, Mirja, who told us that it used to be a dirt road which slowly became more and more important until becoming part of the national heritage and now it’s now protected by Finnish law. Past the history lesson I may add that it’s a heaven for cyclists and bikes alike due to its tilted bends, low traffic density, pine forests surroundings … I’m almost temped to say that I’d rather have had another, lighter, bike under my bum for the occasion … but I shan´t.
Don’t forget that part of our adventure consists of fundraising and raising awareness for two incredible NGOs so please help us to spread the word and, of course, if you’re feeling generous, donate here; DONATE
We also have an amazing YouTube channel with lots of different videos (in lots of different styles) from the road; 421adventure on YouTube