Good morning Finland!

by | Sep 20, 2020 | Diaries, Europe, Finland

We left Tallinn last Wednesday with clear sky and arrived to Helsinki with dark clouds and strong winds. Everything looked grey.

We left the port after a short control by local customs: “why do you travel with Italian plates since you are Greeks?”, asked the young officer in fluent english. 

We easily found a parking space on the beach thanks to park4night app. It was free but with a 4-hour limit, which nobody seemed to care controlling. There was another motorhome at the spot. 

Have you seen Helsinki on Google maps? It’s built on a peninsula and is surrounded by islands – some of them are connected to the mainland. 

That day we were locked into the Iveco because I had to finish my article for Quattroruote.

It was very windy especially when we moved to the opposite beach so during the night I woke up twice at least frightened by the idea that the wind might push our vehicle into the sea.

We woke up safe and sound and the wind was eased. We took the Iveco and crossed the city’s center, which was completely empty.

Then we followed Vula’s directions to a shopping mall to the other side of the city – next to the island zoo of Helsinki. There is a new residential block there next to the mall that reminded us Puerto Madeiro in Buenos Aires. 

When we parked, a young guy, Tim, arrived. He is a Belgian who lives in Helsinki for the last six months with his girlfriend. He had lived in Cefalonia island of Greece years ago, so he loved our country. Tim is into free climbing and has also created a digital guide for free climbing. 

“I followed you”, he told us “because I thought I should meet you guys”.

Why? Because Tim is ready to follow the same lifestyle and live in the white van he prepared. We were the first people who visited his place and we liked it a lot – it is like a tiny house with a proper fridge, a suspending bed over the dining area and lithium batteries. You only need a WC guys!

Tim gave us some useful tips about Finland. First he advised us to wild camp at the edge of the residential area, where there is Sompasauna – the only social sauna in Helsinki. 

“it’s free and you will see a lot of people there. It’s a weird place some times but I think you will like it. Go and try it because they will take it down soon for the real estate business”. Tim also advised us to take care of the arriving storm. 

After we bought a Telia SIM card (20 euros unlimited internet for a month) and a pair of Viking boots for Anastasia, we proceeded to the sauna place. There were 3-4 wooden huts there with a few people around strolling. Completely naked with winds over 60 km/h. What? 

So we parked there. We were supposed to leave the place on Friday but it’s Sunday and we are still here. Thursday – the day of the storm – we stayed inside waiting for the worse. In case winds were getting dangerous, we were ready to move to a safer place. We didn’t need so. 

Friday morning the wind eased and sunny weather arrived. I got naked and went for a sauna together with three other local men. All very friendly.

It was getting so hot when one of them was putting water to the stones that I felt my face burning. I stayed for 15-20’ and then I took a dive in the sea, behind the settlement. Vula and Anastasia were reluctant to follow but I think I will convince them as long as we are in Finland. Sauna is so good for your health. 

This is our third day at the spot and we have met with many interesting people. Friday and Saturday nights were busy till late. It’s great fun watching locals getting out of their cars naked and going for a free sauna. Men, women, young or older strolling around nude in Helsinki!

Prompt parties were organised both nights around the old piano in the outdoor area. Yesterday afternoon, while we were ready to depart, two guys knocked our door and invited us to test komba, the new martial art one of the men – Yussi – created. 

They carried half a ton of equipment – outfits resembling samurai or video game warriors. They unloaded everything next to the sauna huts and started building the outfits, which were made of recycled components from motocross/enduro equipment.

The best outfit was a transformed leather saddle. Everybody could participate as the guys really want to promote their concept without any thoughts of making money. Yussi trained me a bit but I didn’t wear a proper uniform to participate in the group fight. Cool!

Komba is something between a martial art with hands or fake weapons and yoga. It’s action without violence, as Yussi explains. For him it’s also something like an active form of meditation. I tried it and it feels nice. 

I forgot writting that we took our Bottecchia bikes downtown Helsinki these days. It’s a pleasant and safe city but nothing more. The photos of the articles will give you an idea of the Finnish capital. What makes the difference here are the people.

Locals seem to be great, all of them! Maybe this is because we stay next to a hippy style open community but we have met and talked to at least 7-8 interesting people so far.

I had met some Finnish in the past – particularly F1 and rally drivers – and I can say that they are open minded, curious, cool guys with high intelligence but subtle, they speak excellent english (all of them) and most are like grown up kids. They are completely different to Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians by the way. I don’t mean people are not good there but very few were keen to meet and talk to us.  

This is the reason we are still in Helsinki while we were ready to leave the city the same day we arrived by ferry. To be honest, we feel we need some rest these days with all the new cultures and landscapes we have experienced in the last 40-45 days.

It may seem strange but even overlanders need to stay home sometimes and watch Netflix. But today we are ready to depart. Destination is Repovesi National Park.

We have made a plan for the next 15 days in Finland. Good news is that this country is ideal for camping. Free camping, actually, is a constitutional right according to the “free to roam” philosophy. Fishing is also free. So you can camp anywhere you want – even on private territory – and fish in any lake or river. You only need to respect the environment. 

As you can understand we feel good here. I have many more things to write but we need to go._Akis Temperidis

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