Friday, 19 September 2014

Roadtripping: the weird and the wonderful

I can't even remember the last time I spent the entire summer in Finland. So, much of this summer holiday was spent on the road. In awe of the abandoned sheds, fields that seem to go on forever and mist that wraps its arms around them at nightfall. This endless space, silence and nature that we have in this country. And all the weird and wonderful one encounters...

Since planning ahead (or map-reading skills for that matter...) doesn't seem to be either one of our fortes, we got lost a lot. Though... did we? We did stumble upon so many little gems that otherwise might have gone undiscovered.

One of the first (and weirdest) was a shop called Kasvihuoneilmiö ("the green house effect" in Finnish). Located on E18 road, halfway between Turku and Helsinki this place must be seen to be believed. Build in what looks like a massive green house it's a phenomenon, restaurant, cafe and a shop. And Lord, what kind of a shop. They've got everything. And I mean, everything. Like a herd of reindeers made of brass (yours for a mere €1000 a head), 4-metre flower vases (I know where I'll get my supplies in after my offer on Versailles goes through...) and Italian police uniforms form 2nd World War (?!). Crazy. And I went a little crazy, too. 

What seemed like hours later I emerged with staging equipment: some old cutlery (can't have too many of those, ever!), a gardener's box (no, I don't do any gardening...), sea shells and the absolute piece de resistance: a Moroccan lantern. Which The Boy Next Door turned into a lamp for our living room. The light is so whimsical we're bound to be raided for cannabis plantation soon...)

We also made some finds at the  antiques flea market in Nauvo, where The Boy Next Door bought a smoker, made by Abu in 1970's. Still in perfectly working condition, I was told. And why wouldn't it - it's got royal warranty an all! (yes, the following conversation actually happened in my best Patricia Routledge voice: "Richard, dear, it's got a royal warranty! We shall only smoke our fish using the most executive standard fish-smoking equipment and surely there's no higher authority than the Royal Family of Sweden, dear! That princess of theirs, Madeleine, used to be a chain-smoker after all!" )

I on the other hand fell immediately in love with a 3-metre chaise longue. For which there was no room either in our Toyota or our living room - currently the kingdom of Frank Zappa and Lady Hjördis - our 100-year-old antique sofa and a rococo-armchair...

Somewehere in the region of Meriteijo we stumbled upon Mathildedal, an old iron works village. An absolute treat. We've already earmarked its charming inn for next summer along with a couple of promising-looking restaurants. There was also a delightful little cafe/ shop (like hotel, still owned by the family that originally built the factory!) that sells divine home-made fudge.

For a foodie our trips had plenty of goodies in store. Especially the coastal road has a lot of smokeries that are definitely worth a trip. In case you're on the move somewhere near Porvoo, you might want to pop over to Tyysteri smokery. Also keep an eye on the signs that advertize fish smokeries - some of them even have smoked tuna!

Our endless quest for carnal pleasures lead us to Pohja, home to Westchark deli. Unfortunately our favourite (ever since our first ever breakfast together!): the air-dried snow ham had sold out (again) but their country-style air dried ham was almost as good. And then we got some deer sausages. And wild boar paté which was even more delicious than the ones I've been known to hoard in Tallinn

In addition to food, we also found something to lubricate our throats with. In Fiskars we visited Rekola brewery. Judging by the smell something wonderfully dark and toasty is about to hit the shops...!

And lo and behold - we found ourselves on a vineyard, too! We'd bumped into Tammiluoto winery already at The Delicacies of Finland earlier this summer and were happy to survey their glorious grounds. The estate started out as an apple farm but in 1996 they added wine into their repertoir as well. We picked up a bottle of Tyyra - a semi dry white with a hint of seabuckthorn. 

But the award for the weirdest place goes to a restaurant we found lurking in the woods in the middle of absolutely nowhere, without even any signs to guide customers there. More on this in the next post...!




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