We picked up our luggage from Mannsdalen Lodge and drove about 300 kilometers to Lasse’s (Lars Malmström) cottage village, called Rajamaa. The cottages are located around a manse in Swedish side of Muonio area. We ate again the late dinner (delicious salomon) and no disco, at least for me, because I was, and I suppose, most of us, were exhausted, after climbing to the top of Haltia. Rajamaa is woderful place to visit! And Lasse is a an excellent guide, skilled in colourful storytelling and languages. Cottiges were clean and at least our’s was quite big, too. So who wants to visit Lapland with a professional guide, here is the right man for you. In french Trek magazine there was resently a big article about Lasse and the group travelling in winter with huskies.
Early in the morning after breakfast we left and drove through Rovaniemi (Finnish Lapland’s capital) to Ranua. We visitin Ranua zoo in which many of us were attracted especially to their owls. From the zoo we continued our way to Ruhtinaansalmi, Suomussalmi. There is located the Arola farm. Most of the farm buildings in this area were burn during World War II, but luckily not Arolas great timber buildings. At the farm we were told some history of the area and we for example got to know how the local bears are doing. The newest visitor of the bear watching place is Igor, because this male bear comes from Russia.
Arola is located just a couple of kilometers from Russian borderline. The meals were excellent, and I don’t think many will feel opposite, if I say that the were all the way in Finland of high quality. Ofcourse local food is different than created in the famous french kitchens. But it is local! The group lodged in this farm. Here in Suomussalmi the originally french Sabrina from Kuhmo, joined the group. She has an own tourism company, called Taiga Spirit. She is a brave french lady who has integretaed in Lentiira village community suprisingly well.
From Arola the group continued their way to Raatteentie-museum. In this museum area there are a great collection of artefacts and history connected to Finnish winter war. The next point to visit was small Siirtola farm in Kuumu, northern Kuhmo area. The couple Ari and Kati started about five years ago ”slow life” in this modest farm. There can be lodged just 4-6 persons. Siirtola’ is though closely connected to Domnan Pirtti, Kuivajärvi, where is extra room for bigger groups. In Domna area, Kuivajärvi and Hietajärvi villages, there are still left relics of Vienan-Karelian indigenous culture. In addition to Siirtola, we visited Ari’s home farm, Järvelä, in which the time has paused in 70’s. Then the group had the coffebreak on the shore of small lake in the middle of wilderness. By the way, french volunteers have partipicitated in summer 1963 in building Järvelä.
The group left Kuumu village and they continued their way to Lentiira. Topi and Eija Heikkinen, in Lentiiran lomakylät, have worked in tourism business for years. You can feel in their place their long experience with tourists. They have several cottages of high quality and they know the secrets of tar burning and tar products. Tar burning used to be an essential source in livelihood in old days in Kuhmo area. Hospitable Eija served some finnish pies, ”piirakoita”. In Lentiira the group visited the local church, too.
From Lentiira the group drove via downtown of Kuhmo to Sotkamo, Tervamäki. Tervamäki is Martti’s and his wife’s farm or actually it is at the moment there is going on the management change: His son Vesa and new daughter of law are going to be the next hosts of the farm. Tervamäki is a great example of finnish traditional way of living. It is located on the hill, Tervamäki. So you can see tens of kilometers views from there. It was marvelous to do some treshing of the grain in old way and Martti showed us how to do some traditional finnish stick fence. In their farm you can do many kind of traditional activities including picking berries, skiing, fishing all around the year. The grou’p lodged in Tervamäki.
Next morning the first sight was Kotila’s farm, just about ten kilometers from Tervamäki. In this farm Ritva and Eero Niskanen product their excellent jams, which are not just water and sugar. They jams are are concentrated berries sweetened with natural sweeteners . They fit to the diet of diabetics, too. Ritva, the vivid madam of the farm, is going to join the finnish group visiting France.. The Kotila farm has seasonal lodging, too.
After Kotila, we drove to Vuokatti. There we ate lunch, did some shopping and visited Vuokatti Husky. The host Kimmo has about fifty huskies. We got and opportunity to be on a carry, pulled by a herd of huskies. The biggest season for Vuokatti Husky is in winter. Then Kimmo arranges husky sledge excursions.
The last night we stayed over Maaselän etappi. The place is an example of finnish SISU (”guts”). The 75 years old mam told us that she still works about 16 hours a day and she loves what she does! No day she would change. If she have at the same time more than 50 gests, she needs some extra help. The hosts have started from really little place and now they have lodging for about 50 persons. The respectation of traditions can be seen in this farm. They have for example a great SAVUSAUNA (=smoke sauna) and wooden hut for 64 persons there. Many different animals are available for children, reindeers, rabbits, hens, turkeies etc.
In the evening I gave a french kiss to everybody and left filled with different emotions. The trip was wonderful and I got some new ideas for my tiny little farm. I do hope this new network will enrich our lives in future. It was interesting to see how the group became more and more coherent, in spite of some language barriers. It is nice to know, that most of these wonderful people I am going to see in France next week!