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You wouldn't be here if you weren't curious.*

Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

Lahti in Southern Finland: Warm-hearted homecomings, Huskies & Sauna near Helsinki

I just love visiting Finland. Like Portugal, Canada or New Zealand, this country runs with a spirit of humbleness, genuine hospitality, and warm-hearted delight when taking the time to truly meet the locals. “The Fins, they take a bit of a time to ‘warm up’. Especially to small talk … Well actually, Fins don’t really do small talk after all”, we muse, laughing with my new Finnish friends after attending #NBEFinland Nordic Bloggers’ Experience.

“But once they open up, they will hug you from the heart. That’s when you’ve really made a connection with a Fin.”

So true. When we left our local host Ari at Lehmonkärki, right at the southern shores of Lake Päijänne, Finland’s second largest only about an hour’s drive north of Helsinki, warmth & a genuine sense of farewell linger all over the place. That’s after two intense days together, and a time where Ari cared to cook for us, to take us out on several walks, to have us experience a true Finnish sauna, to race across the lake on his snow mobiles .. that’s when you really bond here, I believe.

Thank you, dear Ari. Really & truly loved my time at Lehmonkärki with you !

Thank you, dear Ari. Really & truly loved my time at your beautiful Lehmonkärki rural accommodation with you !

 

“For us Fins, everything starts with and in the sauna. People are born here, people heal, negotiate, or celebrate here …”

says Maaria, a traditional folk healer who treats us to a rather special whisk bath at Lehmonkärki’s outdoor sauna, right by the ice swimming pool. I just love my time with Maaria, her treatment reminds me of a slight cross-over between a Turkish Hammam and a traditional Finnish Sauna Experience, where steam, gentle massages & scrubbing, birch tree branches for the (also gentle!) whisking, and temperatures in the range of 50-60°C are primordial. Check out this wonderful travel video produced by my friend Lola Akinmade Akerström, describing an experience with Maaria the sauna lady in more vivid detail:

 

Ready for the Finnish take on the igloo? It's a sauna, of course ..!

Ready for the Finnish take on the igloo? It’s a sauna, of course ..!

 

Its modern equivalent comes with a complete glass front ...

Today, modern-day Finnish saunas are built with a complete glass front …

 

... opening up the view of what's recommended after each sauna session: A dip in the adjacent ice hole in the lake ..!

… opening up the view of what’s recommended after each sauna session: A dip in the adjacent ice hole in the lake ..! “The lake water is +4°C, and thus much warmer than if you rolled in the snow, for instance ..”, Fins would all agree, and tell us reassuringly.

 

You can of course also "just choose" to stay dressed, and enjoy a ride on one of Ari's snow mobiles ...

You can of course also “just choose” to stay dressed, and enjoy a ride on one of Ari’s snow mobiles on that same frozen lake …

 

... a beautiful, home-cooked dinner experience (I will never forget the tender taste of this beautiful salmon, slow-cooked by the night-time fire) ...

… enjoy a beautiful, home-cooked dinner (I will never forget the tender taste of this fresh salmon, slow-cooked by the fire) …

 

... and stay in what is one of the most luxurious, yet at the same time comfortable & cosy rural accommodation I have seen across Finland so far.

… and stay in what is one of the most luxurious, yet at the same time most comfortable & cosy rural accommodation I have seen across Finland.

 

So where exactly are all these hidden gems in Lahti, Southern Finland located?

I have included a map here for you, so you can enjoy a better overview of where we are talking about:

 

The next warm welcome awaits us in a place called Mukkula Manor. It is also the home of Bekka, a friendly Fin who has been credited as the inventor of snow kiting on Lake Vesijärvi.

Humble as Bekka is, he will admit to his international recognition only in by-passing, focusing instead on teaching us how to ice-fish, drilling holes in the frozen lake, and fly kites. “It’s what we love”, he says laughing, then continues with a stern expression, “When we go out ice fishing, we won’t talk for several hours straight. Only you, the frozen expanse of the lake, perhaps a little fire and some tea, then nothing. You wait. Patiently. There is nothing else to talk about”, he tells a rather shocked group of international people, used to talking almost constantly.

Luckily also for my chatty manner, Bekka does talk to us, especially when teaching us more about his passion, snow kiting. And so does Anu Kärkkäinen, the recently appointed manager of Mukkula Manor, who just loves the fact she can now look after a small group of guests in this beautiful countryside manor house. Another beautiful homecoming. Check this out.

Bekka, on a beautiful "fly-by" across Lake Vesijärvi doing what he loves most : Snow-kiting in the wintertime. "Why not attach skis to a kite on a frozen lake?", he would ask sheepishly, and smile.

Bekka, on a “fly-by” across Lake Vesijärvi, snow-kiting in the wintertime. “Like, why not attach skis to a kite on a frozen lake?”, he would ask us with a boyish grin.

 

Another warm-hearted smile and we are part of the "Mukkula Manor family", where ... receives us.

Another warm-hearted smile and we are part of the “Mukkula Manor family”, where Anu receives us to delicious, home-cooked Finnish meals as well as their traditional rye bread & butter.

 

Love it. Don't you agree, Janicke? ;)

Love the Finnish countryside winter magic. Don’t you agree, Janicke? 😉

 

Of course, there's "work" here, too: Learning how to drill holes into a frozen lake for fishing ...

Of course, there’s “work” involved here, too: Learning how to drill holes into a frozen lake for fishing …

 

... requires patience as well as being taught the right technique: François here is lucky, maybe he even catches an evasive "ice fish" ..?

… requires patience as well as being taught the right technique: François here is lucky, maybe he even catches an evasive “ice fish” ..?

 

I must say that I enjoy the "gentler" of activities: A short snowshoeing tour around Mukkula Manor House, followed by a lovely visit to the sauna.

I must say that I enjoy the “gentler” of activities: A short snowshoeing tour around Mukkula Manor House, followed by the sauna. Naturally !

 

Last but not least, when in Finland, brace yourself for a Nordic “wildlife” experience: Huskies, foxes, reindeer – even a noble wolf that greets our path at Koira Kikka. Right next to beautiful Kinnari Farm in a place called Hollola!

Yes, Finnish (place) names are sometimes hard to remember, but almost always a fun way to bond with the local language. Or did you know that “susi” is wolf in Finnish, but a girl’s name in German? (I wrote about this when visiting Lapland last winter. Learning with the locals is fun.!).

The best way to communicate with the Finnish is through warmth of expression, anyway. Or cooking – creative travel, that is, baking typical rye cookies with the local couple Terhi & Teemu at Kinnari farm, a favourite activity of the entire trip for me! There is not much else in the way of communication needed, than some simple kitchen tools, a well-kneaded dough and some smiles and laughter.

But then, the husky puppies are something out of this world, too …

Puppies !!! These huskies are but four months old, and will start sledge training at six.

Puppies !!! These huskies are but four months old, and will start training at six.

 

Ready for a ride "around the block" with the husky sled?

Ready for a ride “around the block” with the husky sled?

 

These huskies certainly are ...

These huskies certainly are …

 

... and so are we: Ready for another adventure! Love my time in Finland with this international group of bloggers:

… and so are we: Love my time in Finland with this international group of friends & fellow influencers from seven countries: Angelica, Kathrin, Amandine, François, Sangyune, Lola, Dave & Janicke (clock-wise from top left).

 

Time for lunch after all this outdoor adventures ...

Time for lunch (in this lovely little wooden hut on Kinnari Farm) after all these outdoor adventures …

 

... before it's time to get creative: Baking typical rye cookies takes us less than half an hour and makes for a perfect souvenir from our trip.

… before it’s time to get creative: Baking typical rye cookies takes us less than half an hour and makes for a perfect souvenir from our trip.

 

Thank you Finland, for such a wonderful time here in Lahti. What an area worth discovering !!

Thank you Finland, for such a wonderful time here in Lahti. What an area worth discovering !!

 

And you, when will we see you heading to Lahti in Southern Finland?

And you, when will we see you heading to Lahti in Southern Finland?

 

Check out all my travel photos from Lahti in Southern Finland here:

 

Disclaimer: We have been invited on this trip by #VisitFinland #VisitLahti as part of our #NBEFinland Nordic Bloggers’ Experience. All opinions are my own.

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Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

Ready for learning even more about creative travel?

Elena has recently published "The Creative Traveler's Handbook". Chock full of inspiratinal stories, travel tips and advice, it offers everything you need for planning and managing your next creative escape, addressing beginners and experienced travelers alike. Here's how to get your hands on it now!
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