When? November 2019 (8 days). Where? Finland and Norway. What? A visit of a friend on exchange in Lappeenranta, a day trip to Lahti with a little detour, and a 4-day road trip to Lapland and Norway.
A friend of mine spent his exchange semester in Finland till December 2019 and invited me to visit. I like the cold of the winter, I like Finland, I wanted to travel a bit. And my friend had not been to the North of Finland yet, so that would be nice to revisit. In the South it was a bit like back home, around the freezing point, barely any snow when I arrived.
I booked a car, so we could move around better, but first I had a look at Lappeenranta itself of course. I had totally forgotten what it looked like. Had been a while. it might not be the most striking of Finnish cities, but it was nicer than I had in mind. Though getting a pin with a Finnish flag on it proved to be difficult. Maybe there are not enough tourists in this area?!
Generally, the two of us took it slow. It was a vacation after all :-) But we had two things in mind: (1) Visiting Lahti and getting to see some of the landscape on our way there, and (2) a trip to Lapland, the snow and maybe even the Norwegian fjords.
On the day after my arrival we went to Lahti. Of course we took a little detour going North so we could see the Saimaa lake area a bit more. This is a humongous collection of connected lakes in the midst of nothing but trees it seems. Many people have their summer houses (with saunas) there. And if you are lucky and far enough into the winter, you can cross the lakes by foot as they will be covered with thick ice that can at times even carry trucks. In Lahti we visited the ski jumping hills. Quite impressive, though only artificial snow at the time ;-)
After a day off, some planning and walking around in Lappeenranta, we started our second endeavor: a road trip to Lapland and Norway. We would go near Inari first, then drive around the North Eastern parts of Norway for a bit, return to our place near Inari, and then make our way down to Lappeenranta over two days, stopping over in Oulu. That road trip was mainly… long (3500km in 4 days). But we enjoyed seeing so much of Finland and the changing of the landscape from South to North and back. And we had lots of snow in the North as well, which made it even more enjoyable. Even walking on lakes was possible. Not just for us, but for all the reindeer we encountered as well :D The fjords and landscape of Norway were really impressive as well. Much different and much rougher than what we saw in Finland, but very beautiful. A sight to remember and to revisit.
When we got back I had only one day left, which I used to go around Lapeenranta for a bit again. We also enjoyed a little good bye dinner after all those breathtaking experiences all over Finland. It was a short trip after all, but it was really nice to visit a friend and to see Finland again. Check out the pictures, if you want to get some nice travel impressions!