Returning to the land ofher Finnish forbears.
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Kristina Woolnough encounters saunas and snogging.
I You can go by FERRY Irom British portsto Scandinavian ones. and then drive or train it across towards Stockhold. Irom whence you can pick up one at the luxurious Ierries to Helsinki or Turku. This is something at an epic voyage and can be expensive it you're ineligible Ior student discounts etc. See your local travel agent.
I FOR STUDENTS Eurotrain do a trans-Europe return lor £159.50. with an add-on train Iare trom Scotland. From Campus.
I Both the Edinburgh Travel Centre (Dristo Square) and Campus Travel (Strathclyde University and Hillhead Street) do very CHEAP FLIGHTS to Helsinki Irom Glasgow (Campus) and Edinburgh (Edinburgh Travel Centre) at 2238 return. You have to be under 32 and a student.
I THE BRITISH AIRWAYS APEX return ticket Irom Heathrow to Helsinki costs £190. The tare Irom Scotland is extra. You have
and revels in the wilderness.
to stay tor a minimum olsix days. book 14 days in advance. and you cannot change your departure or return dates. Available Irom your local travel agent.
What To Know Before You Go
I THE FINNISH TOURIST BOARD lives at 66 Haymarket. London (01 839 4048). They'll be happyto help with enquiries.
I FLIGHT TIME is generally about three hoursto Helsinki. Finland is three hours ahead at GMT inthe summer.
I ‘KIPPIS' is the Finnish word for ‘cheers'. It's ‘skal‘ (pronounced 'skol') in Swedish.
I MOST STREET AND TOWN NAMES are written in both Swedish and Finnish. I SUMMER TEMPERATURES average 21 C For a winter visitto Father Christmas in Lapland. you’ll need more than yourthermals. as it can dip below ~300C.
I CURRENCY is the Finnish Mark (FM). ol whichthere are between seven and ten to the Pound. depending on
I FINLAND IS EXPENSIVE: Eating out in the evenings is particularly horrendous. Set lunches can be a bargain— most Finns eattheir main meal then. and have bread and cheese Ior supper. It's much cheaperto buy alcohol (beer) Irom supermarkets orthe Alco oil-licences. Drinking out breaks the bank (23 a shot).
Where To Stay
I There are aboutlﬁO YOUTH HOSTELS (opento all ages).
I YOU CAN RENTA
BUNGALOW in a holiday
I village by a lake Irom about £136 a week. Askthe
details. I PRICES start at about £120 a week tor the renting
ol a privately-owned
holiday house. Oitenyou‘ll get a sauna and boat into the bargain. Obviously these two options work out quite cheap ilthere are more at you. Contact FTB. I UNIVERSITIES otten rent out rooms in the summer- much cheaperthan hotels. I There are a large number
oI excellent CAMP SITES all over Finland. oIten situated on lake-sides. FTD has IeaIlets.
I Finnish and Swedish Chalets rent out COTTAGES in the Saimaa Lakeland area. Phone 068‘) 24958 for details.
I DRIVING is easy in Finland- roads are generalllylast and good (but watch out Ior elk in the early mornings. lor. in collision with cars. they kill an enormous number at people each year). You can get a brochure with motoring routes Irom the FTD. A Green Card is required. as is an International Licence.
I BUSSING is the Finns‘ most common Iorrn ol public transport. More like coaches. they are last and reliable. For about 230 you can buy a Coach Holiday Ticket which enables you to travel IODOkm.
I You can use an INTER-RAIL CARD in Finland (and to get there). I Fortravel In Helsinki. a
bargain buy is the TEN-RIDE TICKET at 47FM. lt’s valid on trams. buses and the Metro. You get it stamped at the beginning olyour journey and it‘s valid Iorthe next hour. You can repeat
this nine times! Tram ST is
the so-called city sightseeing tram. travelling a circuit which takes you past the sights.
I There are many FERRY/BOAT trips on lakes and in the archipelago. A good one in Southern
Finland is Helsinki to
Porvoo (Borga). You can travel to the USSR on day-trips Irom Finland. but it's best to getthe necessary visa belore you go.
i What To Do In
Helsinki and Environs
I Part ol the attraction at some at Helsinki's tourist activities is that they're on ISLANDS. so it oIten involves a boat trip. The zoo is one such. The open-air museum (take bus 24Irom the city centre) is worth a visit. The island is hometo
People are notoriously ignorant about Finland. This is a matter of some regret to the Finnish Tourist Board. but it bothers me not a whit. Keep them away. I say. Just me. 17.000 islands. 55.000 lakes and a few Finns.
It has to be said that a holiday in rural Finland differs somewhat from the bog-standard jamboree in Ibiza or Majorca. Those reputable resorts will send you home with bags under your eyes bigger than the ones you‘r’e carrying. In Finland. you‘d be hard-pushed to get any larger than a
That is not to say that there's no nightlife. Helsinki hasone. Even the villages of the south host bi-annual hops. Live bands (although some musicians might fool you) render everything from pop cover-versions to waltzes. Entering the spirit (there isn't any: the bottles lie secreted under every bush outside the dance hall). I've jigged with my little cousin. waltzed with my granny and done something like the Dashing White Sergeant with my mum. Visa vis (and I try to avoid such closeness) smoochies. you are obliged by decorum to dance with anyone that asks. horrors and toe-treaders alike. They will not assume that they‘re in with a chance until you accept their third offerol' a cheek-to-cheek. If you graciously accept (and I don‘t). you might be in for a snog on the pier. Admittedly. these are the antics of teenagers. and it‘s a while since I was one. so perhaps times have changed. But as international courting behaviour varies so much. I thought this insight might help.
Frenetic nocturnal activities aside. time is mostly spent diddling about. Long lie-ins. listening to the breeze
old buildings and two nudist beaches (one lor each sex). plus caIés etc.
I MARKETS are held each weekday morning in many towns. Porvoo has a good one. and Helsinki‘s market is not to be missed. It's held atthe harbour. amidstthe boats and Ierries.
I The main HELSINKI TOURIST OFFICE is at Pohjoisesplanadi 19.
I PORVOO CITY TOURIST OFFICE resides at Rauhankatu 20.
I THE ROUGH GUIDE TO SCANDINAVIA (Harrap-Columbus 27.95) is an excellent tome tor budget and bulging~pocket travellers alike. Don’tleave home without it.
I SCANDINAVIAN COUNTRY INNS & MANORS (Harrap-Columbus £5.95) leatures specilic accommodation and gives routes and itineraries.
The List 8— ll .luly WHH 57