The Washington Times-Herald

Z_CNHI News Service

August 28, 2013

Travel: Tour the wonders of the Finnish Lake District

Using Savonlinna, a small town in Southwestern Finland in the heart of the lake district, as my base, I joined guide, Tanja Honkonen, for an auto tour of several major attractions in the area. Fortunately, Tanja drove, which freed me up to soak in the beauty of the forested area into which Lake Saimaa makes numerous indentations.

Our morning started in Savonlinna with a quick look at some of the region’s cultural history and life on the lake through the centuries at the Provincial Museum, housed in a restored granary on the island of Riihisarri, a stone’s throw away from Olavinlinna Castle. In the summer, a tar steamship, passenger boat, a tug and a schooner are moored just off shore and open to visitors for tour.

For lunch, we sampled the most popular delicacy from the lake, a mild white fish called vendace (miukku in Finnish), served on a wooden platter on the sixth floor, roof-top terrace restaurant of the Sokos Hotel. Besides giving us a unique taste treat, the dining experience overlooks the town from one of its loftiest vantage points.

A quick drive to the hamlet of Kerimaki took us one of the Finnish superlatives, namely "the biggest wooden church in the world." Rumor has it that the architect designed the massive structure in centimeters, but the builder misunderstood and erected the church using inches, which are 2.54 times larger than centimeters. At any rate, the structure is 148 feet long, 138 feet wide and 121 feet tall, big enough to seat 3,000 worshipers and another 2,000 standees.

I particularly enjoyed the view from the choir loft, which gave me a better appreciation of the expansiveness and spatial grandeur of this truly remarkable structure.

On our way to Lusto, the Finnish Forest Museum, we stopped at a vista overlook high on a rocky crest with a view of the seemingly ever present lake. The gorgeous expanse was a mix of gray stone boulders, water of the azure blue lake, purple clumps of primrose, white birch, and green spruce and pine. Here and there, farmer-planted plots of grain added even more interest. On the way back to the car, Tanja pointed out wild lingonberries, red in their ripeness, growing close to the ground. A smaller and juicier cousin of the cranberry, lingonberries are to Finns as blackberries are to Americans -- summertime staples free for the picking.

Text Only
Z_CNHI News Service
  • McCain 1 House Republicans are more active on Twitter than Democrats

    Your representative in the House is almost certainly on Twitter. Your senator definitely is. But how are they using the social network? Are Democrats more active than Republicans, or vice versa? Who has the most followers on the Hill?

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Do your genes make you procrastinate?

    Procrastinators, in my experience, like nothing better than explaining away their procrastination: General busyness, fear of failure, and simple laziness are just a handful of the excuses and theories often tossed around. Now researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have added another option to the list: genetics.

    April 21, 2014

  • Do White Castle prices tell us anything about the minimum wage?

    The paper looked at how many delicious steamed sliders the minimum wage has been able to purchase over time. The point is that as it notes, in 1981, the $3.35 minimum could buy a whole dozen. Today, at $7.25, it could purchase just 10.

    April 21, 2014

  • VIDEO: Moose charges snowmobile, flees after warning shot

    While snowmobiling in New England, Bob and Janis Powell of Maine were charged by a moose and caught the entire attack on camera.

    April 21, 2014

  • Screen shot 2014-04-18 at 4.44.15 PM.png Paint, doodle and sketch: 3 apps for art lovers

    In the absence of a palette of watercolors and a sketchpad, these three apps can fill in as your art supplies of choice.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Smartphone kill switches are coming

    Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!

    April 18, 2014

  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 18, 2014

  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 18, 2014

  • quake.jpg Pennsylvania won’t take action following Ohio ruling on quakes, fracking

    Pennsylvania officials plan no action despite new Ohio rules on drilling that affect a seismically active area near the state line.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Warren's populist pitch on student loans is off key

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren's populist rhetoric pumps up students about their loan burdens, but she conveniently neglects to mention the real problem - the exorbitant cost of college - much less how she's benefitted from those high prices.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo