We flew to Helsinki on Friday June13, spent the first night in Lahti. Feasted on rye bread, Karelian pies, smoked salmon. My sister had stocked up on Fazer boxed chocolates at Christmas, a dozen kinds! Celebrated parents 50th wedding anniversary in Lehmonkärki, Asikkala for the weekend. Very nice, large log cabin on a lake with fantastic food; we had it catered for 17 people.
On Monday we started our roadtrip north, and made it to Äkäslompolo in a day. On the way we stopped at Karoliinan Kahvitupa for cake and Jyväskylä Panda licorice factory for shopping bags full of candy! Stayed in Oulu for a few hours visiting grandma and the graveyard, stopped in Haparanda Ikea, Kukkolankoski, and the Arctic Circle. Stayed at parents luxurious villa right in the little village of Äkäslompolo. No mosquitos!
On Tuesday we drove further north, stopping only to get a bit of reindeer meat for a treat, and walked the short path to the old hotel ruins in Pallas and on to Kilpisjärvi. We had booked a cabin. Hiked Saana that night; we were the only 4 people on the Fell! Overcast and snowing on top. We had planned a visit on Malla Boat to the Three Nations’ Border Point, where the borders of Finland, Norway, and Sweden meet, but there was still ice on the Kilpisjärvi and the dock was destroyed (so saving that for the next trip).
Wednesday we visited Skibotn and Alta in Norway and back to Äkäslompolo via Kautokeino. The winding road followed the coastline, magestic scenery, and the bravest of us went for a skinny dip in the Arctic Ocean!
Thursday: shopping (excellent shopping at Äkäslompolo, Jounin Kauppa, Mailan Putiikki, Marimekko), hike to Varkaankurun Laavu for a sausage roast, and visit to Pakasaivo, Lapland's Hell.
Friday to Rovaniemi Santa village via Pello (Pentik and Marimekko stores!!! Loved!) and on to Lahti. 3000km scenic roadtrip completed! We had the midnight sun shining on us every night in Lapland!
Saturday beautiful Hollola Church!
Visiting family in Hauho.
Sunday Tank Museum and Hauho Church.
Monday guided tour of Häme Castle.
Bus direct to Katajanokka Harbour, Viking Line Gabriella to Stockholm.
Lux seaside cabins with balcony on captain's deck, excellent choice!
Buffet dinners and Food Garden breakfasts, both delicious! The Princess Torte, we all agreed it was the best cake ever!
Tuesday Stockholm, easy walk from terminal to Gamla Stan, saw Changing of the Royal Guards and in the afternoon the group just strolled around in town.
Wednesday back in Helsinki, got day passes for public transport outside the cruise ship terminal, rode couple of stops on the tram, met with family, visited Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral, Bridge of Love, Kauppatori (Harbour Market), Suomenlinna Fortress (with the same day pass), Helsinki Cathedral, walked Esplanadi, took sightseeing tram 2/3, peeked in the Rock Church and bus to Espoo for a visit with family.
Thursday shopping at Stockmann's in Tapiola and Linnanmäki amusement park.
Train back to Lahti.
Friday shopping at Karisma Mall. Mustard, candy, 1 litre Karhu beer cans, Marimekko and Pentik, again!
Saturday charter bus to Tallink terminal in Helsinki and ship to Tallinn, Estonia, breakfast onboard. Sunny. Stayed the night in a suite at Tallink Spa and Conference. Dinner for 25 family members at Munga Kelder (Munk's Cellar). The old town is so beautiful!
Sunday breakfast, swimming and sauna at the hotel, back to Helsinki. Charter bus to Lahti, packing and goodbyes, bus to Helsinki Vantaa airport on Monday... Got last bit of ryebread and candy and flew home on June30...
I had a lot on my wish list, and, unbelievably, it all came true! Tripadvisor was essential in planning our days in Helsinki, 2 day regional ticket made moving around so easy! The weather on the trip was cool, only got really rained on in Hauho. And sauna was on every night, daughter's Canadian boyfriend's most used Finnish phrase was 'Onko sauna lämmin!?' (Is the sauna warm!?) We loved the visit!!!