Reading material for those who love the camping life

By Bjørn Egil Jakobsen
Motorhome and Caravan magazine, December 6

Around Finland in 30 days

In the summer of 2020, the borders to Sweden and many other countries were closed due to corona, but when most Norwegians had decided to stay at home or on holiday in Norway, the borders between Norway and Finland were opened. Just that summer it was wonderful to be Norwegian in Finland.

In the weeks and months before, we had lived with the "søring quarantine", outbreaks of infection, disappointment that the borders to Sweden were closed due to corona, trips to the south and European holidays that were cancelled. Many Norwegians had therefore started planning a Norwegian holiday this summer.

Shortly before the joint holiday this year, the news came that the borders between Norway and Finland could be kept open. Then there were more Norwegians, especially in the north of the country where Norway and Finland have common borders, who started booking campsites, cabins and hotel rooms in Finland.

Popular winter resort

On 10 July we drove over the border crossing in Kargasniemi, which is a short drive from Karasjok. Usually we usually drive over at Kivolompolo/Kautokeino, but we wanted a change and the first leg went to Saariselkä. This is a place known for winter tourism in the north.

Although we mostly find the same offers at home in Finnmark in winter, there are many Norwegians who go here to ski, drive scooters and from the south of the country many also come to see the northern lights, drive reindeer and visit Santa Claus, who however, is not so unknown to people in the north. Admittedly, we only stayed the night here, and like most Finnmarkers, we know that Northern Finland is not a place where we camp for too long in the summer because of the annoying mosquitoes.

Trollkærring along the road

The next day we were on the road. We drove together with Anne Kristine (daughter/stepdaughter), Ståle Løvik (son-in-law) and grandson Oskar. They had a caravan. We drove a motorhome. My wife and I bought it just a few days before the holiday.

In Raudanjoki we stopped at a roadside inn. By the side of the road, there is a huge "troll kärring" with kicks, and the troll is probably a popular photo motif for many tourists, I think.

In any case, it was also good to stretch the legs, and both the coffee and the ice cream tasted good. Late that evening we arrived at Nallikari camping in Oulu. In advance, we had agreed with several friends that we should meet here, and in any case be in Oulu for two weeks.

Hotel and swimming pool

The campsite has a great sandy beach nearby, and the roads to most pitches for caravans and mobile homes are paved. There are green, beautiful lawns, and if you travel with friends who don't have a motorhome, caravan, combi-camp or don't want to live in a tent, you can rent a cabin or simply rent a hotel room.

On the campsite you will also find a hotel with a swimming pool and a restaurant with good food. Even we were not so lucky with the place we had booked. The road there was not paved, and after days of rain it became muddy around us. The electricity rate here was nothing to brag about either, but with a solar panel on the roof, gas to keep it warm and a box of spare fuses in our pocket, we could let the neighbor "use up" for the fan in the awning in the evenings what the electricity rate we shared could withstand of consumption in the evenings. Then it was just a matter of having the umbrella ready and going out and changing fuses several evenings in a row.

Umbrella and barbecue

Fortunately, there were a few sunny days, and the temperatures were fine, but the umbrella was also nice to have for the camping neighbor Raymond Robertsen, who on some days was given the role of cook.

The neighbors Raymond Robertsen and Hilde Johnsen were friends from Hammerfest, and several evenings we enjoyed the warmth from the fan in their awning. It was therefore not the case that we sat and scowled at them every time the fuses blew.

A little further away for us at the campsite, but with a paved road and proper current courses, Jan-Ove and Tone Sætermo had room. Also those from Hammerfest.

"Everyone from the north" in Finland

It was clear that the borders to Sweden were closed. Because at the campsite in Oulu we also met many other famous people, and in social media it was clear that this was the year "everyone in the north" was in Finland.

Despite a few days of rain, we of course also had sunny days, and all in all, Nallikari camping is a nice place. Just be careful which place you book.

Beach og svømmebasseng

Oulu, or Oulu in Norwegian, is located in Northern Ostrobothnia. The municipality has almost 200.000 inhabitants, and is the fifth largest city in Finland. In addition to a great swimming beach at the campsite and a swimming pool at the hotel, it is a short distance to shops and the city centre. Here, it is also well organized for the use of bicycles.

In previous years, we used to holiday in Sweden, but have talked several times that it could have been interesting to try driving south in Finland with caravans and motorhomes. Several together also tend to be fun.

The trip goes south in Finland

Once before, we have been to Oulu together with several friends, and that time we drove a quick trip to Vasa and stopped on the way at a place called Alahärma which we had heard rumors about had a big fairground.

The trip back then gave me a taste of Finland, but the years went by and nothing of the trip to Finland we had talked about ever happened. So not before the corona year 2020. Because while the others in the traveling party packed up in Oulu and headed home towards Finnmark, I, my wife Gro Hege Jakobsen, Jan-Ove and Tone Sætermo planned to drive to the capital Helsinki.

Powerpark in Aläharmä

The two of them were also there when we had been in Alahärmä and surprised the children with the big fairground "Powerpark", which is not that far from Oulu (well, from the perspective of Finnmark).

Now the children, who were then with adults, are. Tivoli is not that important. We decided to drive the coastal road to the south, and on 24 July we were on our way. That same evening we arrived in Vasa, and we still had rain.

Drove straight to Turku/Turku

Now we four pale Finnmarkings were hungry for sun and warmth. The following morning we got up, got ready, and drove straight to Turku. Or Turku, as the city is called in Finnish.

In Vasa you can usually take a ferry over to Umeå in Sweden, and the city is known for its museum, parks, sandy beaches, water park, churches and cathedrals, but we dropped all that, drove off and checked into Ruissalo camping in Turku that same evening.

Now we finally had sun and summer again. The grill was brought out, and after a good meal we went to see what Turku has to offer. Of course, only the little you can manage for a short afternoon and evening visit.

Ferry town number two

You can travel to Turku by ferry from Sweden, Estonia and Latvia. The city has a ferry connection with Mariehamn, Stockholm, Talling and Riga. Taking the ferry from Umeå or Stockholm is an alternative to experience Finland, if you are driving from the south of Norway.

Turku is considered the city for those interested in culture, and is one of Finland's six medieval cities. This is Finland's oldest city, founded in the 1200th century.

With the feeling that there would have been much more of value to visit in Turku, we still rolled on the next day. Then we didn't drive very far, and pulled into Tammisaari camping Ekenäs in Raseborg. Or Raasepori in Finnish.

Swedish as the majority language

Here we got great pitches with a great sea view. Raseborg has approx. 28.700 inhabitants, and like Vaasa, this is a bilingual municipality where Swedish is the majority language.

After a pleasant evening, it was off to the capital Helsinki the next day, and on 28 July we arrived in the Finnish capital, which has 650.000 inhabitants. Rastila camping is the name of the campsite close to the city centre, and is quite centrally located.

It is 13 kilometers to the city centre, but it is quick from the metro station, which is close to the campsite. Here we ended up in the middle of a festival, and had a very pleasant time.

Drove inland road north

We stayed in the capital until 31 July. To the south we followed the coast, but on the way north we chose an inland road and set course for jumping legend Matti Nykänen's birthplace.

I have been to Helsinki once before, but that time we traveled by plane and stayed in a hotel. However, the traveling party we drove with had been to some of the places earlier in their childhood and teenage years with their parents, so some of the route and some destinations were chosen based on that. 

So from Helsinki we drove to Jyväskyla, in case you didn't know where Matti Nykänen came from. The location is approx. 270 kilometers from the Finnish capital.

The campsite in the summer is actually located in the area by the ski resort, and the ski jump that was the late Matti Nykänen's home track is right next to it. Our friends were here with us until 2 August, but we stayed a little longer in Jyväskyla.

Pensioners from Tromsø

When several people are driving together on a trip, it's good to have some "alone time" as well, and when our good friends had driven on to a new place, we met two pensioners from Tromsø that same afternoon. They had arrived the same day and parked their motor home close to us.

It was another pleasant evening together with the two of them, and we still have some contact with the two of them via Facebook today. It is nice.

Along the way there were several people who recommended us in messages on social media to drive by Kalajoki as well, and when my wife and I drove on alone on 3 August, we changed course towards the coast again and 284 kilometers later we arrived in Kalajoki.

Here we could choose our own place on the large camping site, and we chose what must have been the nicest pitches for the motorhome on the whole trip. At the same time as the weather gods showed their very best side.

Clean and neat everywhere

The campsite is located by a nice and long swimming beach, which is also one of the nicest "southern beaches" that I have seen. It was clean and tidy everywhere, but Finns are generally good at it in all the places we were.

We stayed in Kalajoki for a few days and enjoyed the summer, the sun, the sandy beaches and the very last days of holiday to the fullest. We ate good food at the restaurant on the campsite, and I can only say that the many recommendations we had received were correct.

Climbing park at the campsite

Right next to the campsite there is also a climbing park, which attracted children, young people and their parents, but Kalajoki is not a big city and has only 12.500 inhabitants.

On 7 August we started on the way home. Usually, from experience, the trips go quickly past the northernmost parts of Finland without stopping because of the annoying mosquitoes, but we weren't quite done with the holiday yet and stopped in Muonio in the north of Finland for the very last night of this holiday.

Find help against mosquitoes

Mosquitoes can be so troublesome that they easily find their way into motorhomes and caravans while you sleep at night, but on this August day there were few mosquitoes in Muonio. We managed to keep the mosquito at bay with aids available on the market for it. We have most of it.

It may also be a good idea to put plugs in the sink in the kitchen and bathroom, and cover the drain in the bathroom and other openings in the motorhome/campervan. In any case, there weren't that many blood-filled mosquitoes sitting on the curtains, ceiling and walls, and barely managing to fly, the following morning.

This time the mosquitoes stayed away in Muonio, and we had a great afternoon and evening here too before we drove home to Hammerfest the next day.

From the time we started from Hammerfest on 10 July and were home on 8 August, we had been on tour in Finland for 30 days and covered over 3.200 kilometres.

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