How to be a Finn (for a day)

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I visited Finland for the very first time this year and was completely blown away by everyone I met! Before my visit, I had heard so many things about Finns being shy, introvert and socially awkward. Well, I don't know where these misconceptions come from but I can assure you, that's not how I experienced Finnish people at all!

Everyone I met was super friendly and welcoming and there was loads of small talk with strangers - I didn't meet anyone who really seemed shy. Now, it might be the yummy cuisine of Finland or maybe just all those views and nature, but Finns seem like a very happy people - and I could totally picture myself living in Helsinki!

While that's probably never going to happen as my brain doesn't seem willing to learn a 7th language - at least if the language in question is Finnish - I did have the pleasure to get a taste for what life as a Finn is like in Ruka-Kuusamo!*

*Snow in Tromso was kindly hosted by NBE – Nordic Bloggers’ Experience and Ruka-Kuusamo on this trip. All opinions, however, remain my own.



Pohjolan Pirtti - Santa's Cottage

We visited Pohjolan Pirtti - an old farm from 1686 in one of the oldest villages of the Kuusamo region. The farm is still owned by the family who first settled down there but the old cowhouse of Grandmother Pohjola is now a sauna and spa, and the old farmhouse has become Santa's Cottage.

The entire estate is absolutely gorgeous and I can't image visiting - or even living - somewhere more beautiful. I mean, there's nothing I love more than snow but if you give this girl some sunshine and a red cabin in addition, she's in heaven!

The Pohjola family organizes different programs at their estate for visitors to get a taste of Finland - both, in the culinary and cultural sense. Families, for instance, can meet Mr and Mrs Santa Claus, while couples can book a sauna session at the old cowhouse and friends travelling together can book an Arctic beach party - so, something for everyone!

 

How to be a Finn - for a day

We got to experience the "Day as a Finn" program which has the aim to introduce visitors to the Finnish way of life. Now, I'd never heard of such a program before but I absolutely love the idea!

It does help that the Finnish way of life seems pretty relaxed, though. I mean, if they wanted to incorporate a program like that in Norway, it would involve a whole lot of outdoor activities that'll leave you exhausted by the end of the day...

Now, what does a "typical" day in the life of a Finn in winter look like? Apparently, it involves at least one of the following activities:
 

1. Enjoy a cup of tea with a view

I couldn't imagine a better start to the day! Although, with a view like that, I would probably never get any work done as I'd just stare out of the window forever...


2. Go for a walk in -23 degrees Celsius

I'd be lying if I said that it wasn't cold - I mean, minus 23 degrees is when your hair starts to freeze - but if that doesn't wake you up, nothing will!
 

3. Admire the sunrise

Granted, there's nothing particularly Finnish about it but after a long and very dark winter, I know the feeling of the first sunrays of the year only too well. It's a special time!


4. Bake traditional Finnish flatbread

Bread is an essential part of Finnish cuisine and I have to admit that I love Finnish bread 1000 times more than Norwegian bread - sorry, Norway! There are so many variations and it also is so easy to bake - and trust me, if I say that it's easy, it really is cause I'm absolutely useless in the kitchen...


5. Have some reindeer meat for lunch

Now, I'm really not the biggest fan of reindeer meat but I love a good casserole and this potato-reindeer bake was absolute heaven!


6. Go sledging or snowshoe hiking!

I mean, after a lunch like that, you've got to work out a bit and what better way than by playing the snow?


7. Enjoy a "pulla" with your cup of coffee

Apparently, Finns don't only enjoy bread but also pastry. A "pulla" is a cardamom-cinnamon bun which goes perfectly well with your afternoon coffee - which has to be consumed at a bonfire so you warm up faster after all those winter adventures in the cold!


8. It's time to hit the sauna!

Finnish saunas are amazing! Before visiting Finland, I never lasted longer than 2 minutes in a sauna as I just don't cope well with heat. During my time in Finland, however, I've learnt to embrace it and now last a good 10-15 minutes and actually relax in there.

We also got to hit each other with a "vihta" - a bath broom made of tree branches - which isn't a way to deal with pent-up aggression but actually, a healthy way to ease muscle pain, headaches or even flu symptoms, depending on what kind of branches you're using. 


9.  Get back out into the cold...

You need to cool down after a visit to the sauna and while you might think that simply walking outside into the -23 degrees cold air should be enough, you're wrong! Finns like to take it to a whole new level and go ice-swimming - or, if the lake is too far way, they simply jump into the snow...

Finns do seem a bit crazy after all, don't they? 


10. Relax in the jacuzzi

Now, what better end of the day than sitting in a jacuzzi and admiring the view? While there are 2 million saunas in all of Finland and almost every Finn has a sauna available nearby, I guess not everyone has easy access to a jacuzzi though...

Pohjolan Pirtti did have one, however, and it offered fabulous views. Just imagine what sitting in that jacuzzi must be like if you actually see the Northern Lights at night?!

 

Be a Finn for a day yourself

If you'd like to get to know the Finnish way of life in summer, according to Pohjolan Pirtti, it involves:

  • berry picking in the forest
  • chopping up some wood for a bonfire
  • making bath brooms for the sauna
  • and, of course, enjoying loads of Finnish food and time spent in the sauna!

You can book your own visit to Pohjolan Pirtti here (unfortunately, some of the activities can only be booked by larger groups).


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