Finland - Wild Camping Spots, Hot Saunas and Talking Music in Helsinki

The second part of our trip takes us to what I call the "gruyère" part of Finland - if you look at the map of Finland, you'll see that most of the south is made up of lakes and rivers creating thousands of holes like the Emmental cheese! We drove slowly down scenic roads across the lake region keeping in mind Helsinki as our final destination from where we'd head to The Baltics. Leaving Rovaniemi we'd thought we may not have any more people to visit, but we were quickly proved wrong. Jamie had left his phone behind so Catri kindly sent it to her friend, Hannah in Helsinki - the only female rapper in Finland; how exciting was that!

On road E63 towards the Hepoköngäs Nature Reserve.

On road E63.

Hepoköngäs Nature Reserve - the well marked trail to the waterfall.

Hepoköngäs, one of the highest natural waterfalls in Finland at 24 meters high.
In need of a shower, water, electricity and somewhere to stop over for the night, we found probably one of the funniest named campsite in the whole of Finland; "Koli Future Freetime". Run by a lovely elderly couple, the quite high pricetag of 25Euros included the use of the sauna so it wasn't too bad in the end! And the campsite was in great surroundings located on Lake Valkealampi.

The campsite pier... It was just that little bit too cold to jump in!

Our "Autoquest" parked right in front of the Lake.

The main campsite building. The front is a family cottage. The back has saunas and a full kitchen. 

Olavinlinna Castle in Savonlinna.

One of the many cable ferries in Finland. This one was near Ruokoniemi.

In Finland, we were spoilt by a great choice of wild camping spots due to their "Everyman's right" policy which I referred to in my last post. Below are pictures from one of the spots we loved the most, off road 62 by Lake Saimaa. Just parked below the main road, it looked like our spot had once been the road leading to the cable ferry crossing before the bridge was built. Even though it was cold as we were getting towards the end of October, we'd been very lucky with the weather with beautiful sunshine and blue sky many mornings.

Our beautiful wild camping spot off road 62 by Lake Saimaa, just by the picnic area "Lietvest".

Our beautiful view in the morning of Lake Saimaa.

Back on road 62 towards the South.

Road 13 passed Ristiina.

Another wild spot in the woods - I took the picture from a wooden watchtower.

The above woods led to this beautiful beach.

In Helsinki, we decided to stay at the nearest campsite to the city, Rastila camping (second review from the top) for a few days (three in total). It was an expensive choice, but we needed showers and had accumulated quite a big laundry pile which included our beddings and towels! As we didn't know Hannah, we didn't feel we could call her about the phone and then ask her if we could park outside her flat and use her facilities - it's just not us or what we do. Below includes pictures of artworks I loved the most at Helsinki's Contemporary Art Museum, Kiasma. Although the Museum focuses on Finnish contemporary art, it also displays work from neighbouring countries.

One of the main shopping streets parallel to the train station, probably the "Oxford Circus" of Helsinki.

Elina Brotherus, Revenue (Part of the series Suites Françaises 2), 1999.

Elina Brotherus, Le Reflet (Part of the series Suites Françaises 2), 1999.

Kimmo Schroderus, Expander, 2004. Steel.

Kimmo Schroderus' piece reminded me of Louise Bourgeois' sculptures of Spiders.

Thomas Westphal, Hand on wire, 2012.

As the hand "walked" on the wire, the plasma screen was slowly rolling along the wall.

One of the beautiful allotments on the outskirts of the city. Each one had their own "pimped up shed"!

The beautiful hall of Helsinki Central Railway Station.

One of the many Art Deco buildings in Helsinki, not far from the main public sauna, Sauna Arla.

Near Sauna Arlaa little gem to warm up and chill, the Bear Park Café.

Even though Hannah was busy looking after her two kids and trying to launch her first album with the help of her partner Jani aka "Tes La Rok", a Finnish DJ, musician and producer, she made time for us and took us to some cool places: the Itäkeskus Library caféteria, where we ate some yummy Moroccan food, and one of the only remaining public saunas in Helsinki, Sauna Arla. Founded in 1929 and located in the Dalston area of Helsinki (vintage shops, independent cafes and bars and artist studios), the Sauna was given a new life by his friendly owner, Kimmo Helistö! On our last day, we went for a nice walk together around her area and she made us a lovely dinner. It was a nice touch to what was our last time in the country - Jamie and Jani shared their love of music and going out in Leeds (Jani had DJ'd in Leeds many times, including the West Indian Centre, a place Jamie had been many times).

Rastila tube station, only a three-minutes walk away from our campsite, hence the name.

With Hannah and her son Toivo at the Itäkeskus Library caféteria.

Back at the Bear Park Café, Agricolankatu 13, 00530 Helsinki.

The girl washing room before the hot room, the "sauna" at Sauna Arla, Kaarlenkatu 15, Helsinki.