Tag Archives: Finland

Free book shares tips to travelers planning a trip to Scandinavia

2017-08-15

If you haven’t visited any of the five Scandinavian countries before, but you believe now is the time go, a bit of research will help you decide where and when to travel. It is a large area, and the further north you go in North Europe, less people there are. If you go as far as Lapland, there are more reindeer than people.
Reindeer at Aakenus fell in Yllas-Pallas national park Finland, Lapland, north Europe.
Traveling in Scandinavia is an ebook that we have made available for free. You can download the book right away simply by choosing an EPUB or Kindle version of the ebook.

The book includes information on destinations in Sweden, Norway and Finland. Cultural insight on people, customs and etiquette are featured as well, because, well, you are supposed to behave in the sauna as the Scandinavians behave.

We have chosen chapters from our travel guides and cultural guide for Traveling in Scandinavia, and even selected chapters from a cookbook, and a history book. All and all, the book gives an overview on Scandinavia from many angles.

It is easier understand the silence of Finns, drinking songs of Swedes and electric car enthusiasm of oil-rich Norwegians after reading chapters from the book.

Some travelers like summer and sun, others snow and fun. Summer and winter are the best times to visit Finland, Norway or Sweden. Unless, you are a Scandinavia expert and know that the peak season for hiking in Lapland is autumn. It is because the color of green in the fells and mountains fades, allowing other colors momentarily shine.

Book cover image: Traveling in Scandinavia

Get your free copy of Scandinavia travel guidebook

2017-06-22

What is the one thing you know about Scandinavia? Long winters, midnight sun in summer, design, education system, welfare, Abba, HIM, or A-ha? Well, the best way to find out more is to travel in Nordic countries and see how the region is yourself. A good starting point is the book we have put together from travel guidebooks and cultural guides that talk about Sweden, Norway and Finland.

Traveling in Scandinavia is an ebook that you download for free here.
Book cover image: Traveling in Scandinavia
The book is a selection of travel tips and cultural insights into the Nordic countries. A little bit of information on food and history is included as well.

Here is a taste of Scandinavia for you to explore at the comfort of your reading nook – perhaps before heading out to the North yourself. As the selection of writings show, there are plenty of destinations to see and things to do: city life, mountain biking, fishing in pristine rivers, camping, island hopping, road touring, Arctic adventures, or hiking in the wilderness. If something is missing, Finns will invent it (e.g. wife carrying competition), Swedes will sell it to the world (e.g. entire country available on Airbnb), and Norwegians will win the cross-country skiing world championship (again).

Top 5 scenic drives in Lapland for road travelers touring North Europe

2017-06-05

It is a long way to the north of the Arctic Circle, Lapland in Scandinavia, from other parts of Europe. Yet, so many road travelers make the trip that during the busiest summer season in July and August, popular camp sites can be fully booked if you arrive late in the evening. Enjoying the great outdoors is the primary reason for visitors to drive to the far north, and while doing it, why not enjoy the best scenic drives while on the road.

Here are the top 5 scenic drives in the land of fells, fjords, reindeer and Sami people as ranked in the travel guidebook Lapland. Some of the routes cross the borders of Finland, Norway or Sweden.

Lakselv-Nordkapp

Travelers who are heading to Nordkapp can approach the Europe’s northernmost point from Alta or from Lakselv. The road from Lakselv to Nordkapp is the one to take if you want to maximize your time taking in spectacular scenery. Without breaks, this drive takes about 3-3.5 hours.

A video that shows the sceneries along the Lakselv-Nordkapp road:

Lakselv is located at the southern end of Porsangerfjorden. Heading north of Lakselv, towards Nordkapp, the road (E6 and E69) follows the shores of the fjord. You can admire fjord views practically all the way to Nordkapp, apart from two long tunnels that dive into a mountain and under the sea.

There are plenty of places to stop and take a break on the way. It is really better to stop on the roadside and take time to absorb the scenery, take some photos, and perhaps take a dip in the sea than to drive slowly and block the narrow road. Local truck and bus drivers may want to go faster than tourists even though the road is narrow.

Karigasniemi-Utsjoki

The road from Karigasniemi to Utsjoki may not be one of the best known road sections in Lapland, but it definitely is one of the most beautiful. The road follows Tenojoki River which is famous for its wild salmon and trout. There are many places along the road where fishermen can stay at a cottage and hire a local guide with a boat to fish for the famous Tenojoki salmon. One thing is common for all travelers: everyone admires the varying landscape. The lush river valley, high fells and snow-capped peaks come into view as the road undulates along the river shores.

You can choose to drive on the Norwegian or Finnish side of Tenojoki River. I have only made the trip on the Finnish side where the road was in good condition. Roadside carparks were built in scenic places that provided beautiful views to the river and the surrounding fells. In Finland, the road starts from Karigasniemi village, and in Norway from Karasjok. There are no bridges across the river between Karigasniemi and Utsjoki.

Narvik-Kiruna

The road between Narvik and Kiruna shows the many faces of Lapland landscape. In the west near Narvik, fjords and mountains create the unique scenery Norway is renowned for. From Narvik towards the east, the road ascends to a mountain plateau. Approaching Abisko, a whole new world opens up: mountain peaks, lakes, rivers and scarce vegetation establish a unique landscape that doesn’t look like anything you have seen before. As Kiruna comes closer, scarce vegetation gives way to lush forests as the landscape changes from fells to undulating forests and hills.

The landscape between Kiruna and Narvik is shown on this video clip:

There are many roadside carparks on the way, especially near Abisko. During weekends, the carparks may be crowded as locals head to lakes and rivers to fish and hike into the fells. Abisko and Riksgränsen are the only places where services are available along this road section.

Kong Olavs Veg

Kong Olavs Veg (King Olav’s Road) leads travelers from mainland Norway to the Lofoten archipelago and across the islands. The scenery is pretty much continuously spectacular: mountains, fjords, villages and fishing ports. There is not a dull moment on Lofoten no matter which road you choose to drive. Occasional bridges and ferries along the way let you admire the landscape from the sea as well.

Summer sceneries along the roads of Lofoten can be viewed on this video clip:

Winter/spring sceneries along the roads of Lofoten can be viewed on this video clip:

Roads, even the main roads in Lofoten, are narrow and some sections can be a bit bumpy. Take care that right-side wheels travel on the white line on the right edge of the road, because local bus and truck drivers want to drive at their own speed on the roads they know so well. Plan your trip so that you have plenty of time. Driving across the archipelago is slow because of narrow and twisting roads, and villages on the way.

Bjerkvik north of Narvik is the place to start the road trip to Lofoten. An alternative route is to take a ferry from the mainland (for instance, from Bodö or Bognes to Moskenes) and drive across Lofoten from west to east.

Karesuvanto–Skibotn

This scenic road takes you from majestic fell landscape in Finland to beautiful fjord mountain landscape in Norway. The highlights of this trip are Saana fell in Kilpisjärvi and Lyngenfjord.

This video shows the sceneries between Karesuando and Skibotn:

The starting point is the village of Karesuvanto that is located on both sides of the border in Finland and in Sweden. The village can be reached via E45 from Sweden and via E8 from Finland. From Karesuvanto, head west along E8. The road follows the border river Muonionjoki and gradually ascends to the gently sloping fells. Kilpisjärvi is a destination of its own for travelers. A hike to the Saana fell is highly recommended. Towards west, after Kilpisjärvi, you enter Norway and the landscape changes. Fells get steeper as the road winds down towards the sea. The village of Skibotn welcomes road travelers to the shores of the beautiful Lyngenfjord.

Lapland travel guidebook, book cover image

This was extracted from the travel guidebook to Lapland that has more information and tips for all travelers who are planning to visit the last large wilderness of Europe.

The modern libraries of Thionville, France and Seinäjoki, Finland have something in common

2017-02-15

Public libraries all over the world have a new problem to solve: how to provide the best possible services to citizens when the core service of a library – printed book – is transforming to digital format. Ebooks can be checked out from a library at home sofa, at beach chair or at hospital bed. We firmly believe libraries as public spaces are needed in the future as well, but how they will look like and what they might actually do is another thing.

One of the first real life experiments with next generation library is being conducted in Texas, USA. Bexar County has opened an all digital library called Bibliotech. There are no physical books for people to loan, but computers, tablets and ereaders where library card holders can loan and read ebooks (or hang out on the Internet). Library staff is always there to help with books and with technology.
Thionville library in France
The town of Thionville in northern France didn’t go all digital when it opened a new library in 2016. It is a beautiful modern building with plenty of space for activities, like sipping coffee, having a picnic on the roof, or playing instruments in soundproof rooms. The architects explained to Fast Company that the objective was to build spaces for the community. Printed books are available in the library, as well as ebooks and other forms of digital media.

Thionville doesn’t even call its new building a library, but Mediatheque.

Before we continue to Seinäjoki, Finland, take a look at a video introduction to the Mediatheque of Thionville, France. Mediatheque was opened in 2016. It was designed by the Strasbourg-based firm Dominique Coulon and Associates.

Let’s jump from Central Europe to Northern Europe in order to find out what kind of libraries are being built in Scandinavia. One of the most liked and celebrated new libraries in Finland was built in Seinäjoki, in the central region of the country. The Apila (Shamrock) Library, designed by Helsinki-based architects JKMM, opened in 2012.

The primary service in Seinäjoki library is still printed books, but community spaces, activities and digital media have their own nooks, rooms and corners as well. The shadow of Finland’s master architect Alvar Aalto was a factor in the design process because buildings designed by Aalto are located around the new library.

Now, take a look at the following photo gallery of the Seinäjoki Apila Library and compare the pictures with the video images of the Thionville library. There are a number of details and large design solutions that resemble one another in these two libraries, even though the architects are different. Perhaps it is a sign that libraries are finding one common way to serve citizens in the digital future.

Seinäjoki Apila library, Finland
modern library of Seinäjoki in Scandinavia
modern library  architecture in Seinäjoki, Finland, North Europe
community spaces in Seinäjoki library, Finland
reading nook in Seinajoki library, Finland, Scandinavia, Europe

Spaghetti and Sauna is a survival guide to Europe’s vastly different cultures: Italy and Finland

2016-03-28

Finns are from Neptune and Italians from Mercury – that is what someone moving from Italy to Finland (or vice versa) might think. The differences in culture, behavior and socializing – not to mention weather and food are so great that it can drive a normal, healthy person to believe that the Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy correctly defined the meaning of life.
sample page from book Spaghetti and Sauna
Fortunately, everyone who is planning to move to Europe – particularly to Finland or Italy – can now read a book that tells everything about the most common pitfalls that a traveler, student or an expatriate may encounter in a new environment.

Irene De Benedictis moved from Rome to Pori, a relatively small town in Finland to study and work. She survived. Even though it didn’t go as smoothly as she would have liked, the best thing is that she wrote a book Spaghetti & Sauna about her culture shock and how she learned to cope with the Scandinavian weather, food, and people.

Spaghetti and Sauna tells an entertaining and educating story that is worth a read for everyone who is interested in the cultures and customs of South and North Europe. If you don’t know what a personal bubble, sauna evening, umbrella ride or onion-style fashion is, you better read the book.

book cover image: Spaghetti and Sauna
More about the book Spaghetti & Sauna – Discovering the Rational Finnish Culture through the Eyes of an Emotional Italian here.

Traditional Nordic cooking for contemporary kitchens: Finnish Cookbook with Modern Flavors

2016-03-24

Maybe Finnish kitchen is not (yet) as renowned as the French or Thai kitchens that can be found in all major cities of the world, but Scandinavian tastes have been discovered by food lovers. Traditional Finnish meals were prepared from ingredients readily available at small farms, lakes, large forests and the sea. It was simple, hearty food.
Sample page from Finnish Cookbook
Even when something already tastes good, it doesn’t mean it couldn’t be made even better. That’s what author Marko Päkki has been doing for most of his life. He knows exactly how to cook traditional Finnish food, but he didn’t leave there. He has developed new recipes based on traditional Nordic cooking.

Here is the result: Finnish Cookbook with Modern Flavors for home chefs who want to try out simple but tasty recipes in their kitchen. Choose from fish, meat, vegetable dishes or prepare a traditional dessert (out of fresh berries, naturally).
Download ebook: Cookbook, traditional food of Finland
Recipes introduced in the book are, for instance, Traditional Baltic Herring Fillet Steak, Chanterelle Bacon Pie. Karelian Stew, and Rainbow Trout with Fruit Salsa.

More information about the book Finnish Cookbook with Modern Flavors here.

New Purchase Options for Scandinavian Ebook Readers

2015-04-19

Amazon dominates many ebook markets across the globe, but there are some corners of the world where local ebook stores thrive. Scandinavia (in this case, only Sweden, Norway and Finland) is not an easy market for a large international company like Amazon to enter because every country has its own language and currency, and above all, the markets are fairly small. Adlibris is the largest Scandinavian online bookstore that also offers a large selection of ebooks.
adlibris ebooks, norge screen shot
At the moment, Swedish customers may choose from 25 000 ebooks, Norwegians have a selection of 23 000 ebooks and Finns don’t yet know how many ebooks there are, because Adlibris’ Finnish ebookstore is waiting for its official launch (ebooks are already available, though). Vast majority of available ebooks at Adlibris are published in Swedish or in Norwegian.

Here are the Adlibris bookstores where Scandinavian customers can shop in their local language and currency.
Finland
Norway
Sweden