Björkboda to Helsinki: our second cross-country voyage in as many days.

I think it’s important to step outside your comfort zone when travelling and try to experience something you couldn’t have done at home. This trip, sleeping in an Ewok Village in the middle of a Finnish forest definitely filled that quota. (The only downside: I woke up the next morning with mosquito bites in places no man should have mosquito bites.)

The view from our hut.

One last look.

The sauna by morning.

John still hadn’t forgiven me for forcing him to stay in the freezing cold water so that I could use him as a handrail.

The autumnal surroundings were the most picture-perfect backdrop for a wedding.

Side story: as we were preparing to shower that morning, John managed to cause some major property damage, and plaintively called out to Mona for help. She walked into the room to find John holding the entire door in his hands after he’d somehow succeeded in ripping it off its hinges, at which point he asked the most logical question anyone could ask in the situation: “Mona…is this normal?”

No, John – even in Finland, doors aren’t designed to be detachable.

By strange coincidence, the weather – which had been awful when we first arrived – remained absolutely perfect for the duration of the wedding, and began to grey over again almost as soon as we left.

The next leg of our journey took us back to Helsinki, though we got lucky and managed to score a ride all the way there.

Our travel companions, Anna and Tony. Thanks, guys! They even dropped us off on the front steps of the hotel.

…where, as it happened, our errant luggage was waiting! Putting aside the fact that our suitcases are now more well-travelled than we were, our arrival in Helsinki signalled an end of the erstwhile misadventures – not least because we’d found a 4.5 star hotel for just £20 more than the neighbouring 3-star.

There was also a massive, hi-tech gym in the basement (better equipped than our actual gym back home), and an adjoining shower/sauna area which allowed us to continue our newfound love affair with that particular aspect of Finnish culture.

On our first night in Helsinki, we asked a member of the hotel staff to recommend a restaurant that specialised in traditional Scandinavian cuisine. He advised us to try Kuu which was, conveniently enough, right round the corner – and while the hotel was probably getting a kickback for sending customers their way, it definitely didn’t disappoint.

I started with the goat cheese salad with almond vinaigrette.

…and moved on to a roasted fillet of reindeer with Port wine sauce. I’m sorry to report that Rudolph was delicious.

To finish: baked apple cake with cinnamon ice cream and marinated apple. Also the satisfaction of the staff asking if we’d like to move tables because we were right next to the air conditioning, after John claiming that I was exaggerating my coldness the entire time. (Granted, I’m preternaturally cold-blooded at the best of times, but every once in a while, it is just objectively cold!)

In lieu of some late-night sightseeing, we retired to the hotel after dinner: well-fed and well-rested at last. I’m usually one to pack as much into a holiday as is physically possible, but – after 3 days in the same clothes – there are few things more curative than a long bath and pure cotton bathrobes.

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