Saimaa Times 1/2022

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MAGAZI NE FOR VISITORS

IN THIS ISSUE Everything you ever wanted to know about Finnish baseball Page 8

Finland, paradise of crazy summer events Page 12

Finnish nature is ruthless Page 18

the world’s northernmost medieval castle

Olavinlinna Page 21

A column by Minna Lindgren

please leave this magazine for the next guest – thank you!

The most important hotel employee


FIVE STAR SAIMAA lakesaimaa.fi


Five unique lakeside cities with exquisite destinations invite you to a Lake Saimaa tour. Enjoy a relaxed beach holiday and the best parts of urban life. Delight in delicious Saimaa food and experience local specialties. Here are a few tips for your tour.

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HARBOR AND FORTRESS OF LAPPEENRANTA

IMATRANKOSKI RAPIDS The first Finnish tourist attraction is still a breathtaking sight.

The longest beach boulevard in Finland and the historical fortress.

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HOP ON HOP OFF SAIMAA DAY TRIPS FROM MIKKELI

Exceptional destinations such as the Astuvansalmi rock paintings – the most significant rock art entity in the Northern Europe.

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OLAVINLINNA CASTLE The notrthernmost medieval castle in the centre of Savonlinna.

5 Varkaus

4 Savonlinna

3 Mikkeli

ÄMMÄKOSKI RAPIDS AND OLD VARKAUS

Beautiful nature of the rapid stream and industrial architectural gems in the centre of Varkaus.

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! e m o c Here we lakesaimaa.fi

Lappeenranta

Imatra

©Karttakeskus, Helsinki 2021

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CONTENTS A brief introduction to Finnishness 6 Everything you ever wanted to know about Finnish baseball 8 Saimaa area in a nutshelll 10 Finland, paradise of crazy summer events 12 Map of Saimaa region 14 Hotels providing Saimaa Times 16 Finnish nature is ruthless 18 Olavinlinna – the world’s northernmost medieval castle 21 The most important hotel employee – Column by Minna Lindgren 24

Saimaa Times Magazine for Visitors Issue 1/2022 www.saimaatimes.fi ISSN 2814-4651 (print)

Editor in chief Roope Lipasti

Published by Mobile-Kustannus Oy Brahenkatu 14 D 94 FI-20100 Turku, Finland

Sales manager Raimo Kurki raimo.kurki@mobilekustannus.fi Tel. +358 45 656 7216

Publisher Teemu Jaakonkoski

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Graphic design & layout Petteri Mero Mainostoimisto Knok Oy Printed by Newprint Oy

Cover photos Myllysaari beach. Photo: City of Lappeenranta Imatrankoski rapids. Photo: imatra.kuvat.fi A ship in the Saimaa Canal. Photo: City of Lappeenranta Olavinlinna. Photo: Visit Saimaa Minna Lindgren. Photo: Jarkko Mikkonen

Saimaa Times map application for mobile phones and tablets: www.saimaatimes.fi. The magazine is available in hotel rooms in the Saimaa region (see page 16). 4


Find the hidden treasures of Lake Saimaa!

Local businesses: saimaageopark.fi/tekemista

saimaageopark.fi @saimaageopark

M/S LAKE STAR M/S LAKE SEAL Maisema- ja tilausristeilyt

Tunnin maisemaristeilyllä voit nähdä ja kokea Savonlinnan kaunista saaristomaisemaa. Risteilyllä reittiselostus suomeksi, englanniksi, venäjäksi ja saksaksi. Tickets online or straight from aboard/ship. Route guidance in English, Russian, German. Lähtöajat 1.6.-31.8.: M/S Lake Star M/S Lake Seal (1.6.-31.8.) (n.25.7.-13.8.) 10:30 11:15 12:00 12:45 13:30 14:15 15:00 15:45 16:30 (17:15) 18:00 (19:30)

Osta liput verkkokaupasta tai suoraan laivoilta!

Tiedustelut ja varaukset: Puh. 0400 200 117 Sapha Oy saphaoy@gmail.com

www.lakestar.fi LakeStarLakeSeal


photos: Envato

FROM TH E ED ITOR

A brief introduction to Finnishness

There is usually another side to stereotypes and clichés, so they can be enlightening when you want to get to know Finland and Finnishness. So here we go: How to understand Finns!

Written by Roope Lipasti Translated by Alex Ahlgren & Owen F. Witesman

1. Language

4. Reliability

The Finnish language is very difficult, so much so that Finns themselves even avoid using it, which is why Finns often prefer to speak through their actions.

Finns are the most reliable people in the world. This is evident in many areas, not least in large-scale industry. If you order a ship from the Finns, it arrives as agreed and on time. In Finland, schedules and sticking to them are valued perhaps more than anything else. The construction industry, rail transport and public procurement are, of course, exceptions to this. You cannot offend a Finn worse than by arriving late to an appointment without a valid reason. These include death and dying.

2. Tribes Several very different tribes live in Finland. When traveling in Finland, it’s a good idea to take into account at least the following factors about the way these tribes behave: The East is home to talkative and emotional people who are usually crying when they aren’t laughing. These are the Karelians. To the west of Karelians live the Savonians, who consider themselves folksy but not everyone appreciates the subtlety of their wit. Going even further west, you find the Häme people, whom we won’t mention further because they don’t like to call too much attention to themselves. Conversely, on the West Coast people are even quieter than normal, which is good because what few words they say are usually rude. Ostrobothnians place their trust in two higher powers, themselves and God, especially the former. Finns in the middle of the country do not have any special characteristics other than that everyone owns their own lake. The north is home to people who live 150 kilometers from the nearest convenience store and 140 from a mailbox, which has made them quite broad-minded. There is also a large minority of Swedish-speaking Finns, who differ from others in that they are beautiful, rich, healthy and live on the coast.

5. In a restaurant/pub In Finland, it is important not to be a bother. You see this especially in restaurant culture: Waiters often aren’t particularly friendly, if there even is one. Many times you have to pick up your drinks and even your food from the counter yourself. We don’t tip since it’s usually equated with giving alms. Above all, in restaurants it is important to eat quietly and without complaining, no matter how bad the food. When the server asks if you like your meal, you’re supposed to nod and smile and say that you just ate at home, which is why you didn’t finish your plate. Finns do not want to be indebted to anyone. It causes them anxiety if a friend offers them a glass of beer, which is why the warmest friendships arise between those who never give each other anything. s

3. Personal space Personal space is important for Finns. This may be due to the fact that the country’s size is 338,424 square kilometers, which means that each Finn (5.5 million people) could have 61 hectares to themselves. Being in close quarters with others is a vexing experience for Finns. A good conversational distance is two meters. Any more distant and you have to raise your voice (bad) and any less and you might make physical contact (even worse).

Roope Lipasti is the editor in chief of Saimaa Times. Photo: Riikka Kantinkoski

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Uniikilla paikalla Lappeenrannan satamassa jo vuodesta 1913 palvellut

Lappeenrannan Kasino palvelee arjesta juhlaan

Lounas tarjolla ma–la. Muina aikoina tilauksesta.

Lappeenrannan Kasino Ainonkatu 10 kasino@foodandco.fi 53100 Lappeenranta p. 0400 924 647


photo: Kalle Parkkinen / Lehtikuva

Matti Latvala of KPL from Kouvola (right) is on the second base trying to put out Timo Torppa of Manse from Tampere in Finnish baseball finals on 21st September in 2021. Manse won the best-of-five finals in the fifth game.

Everything you ever

wanted to know about

Finnish baseball

Pesäpallo, or Finnish baseball, is the

Finnish national sport, with a history full of colorful characters, grand

emotions, and scandals. In the future, there may even be tea breaks.

B

ased on rock paintings, ancient mammoth hunters were already playing a game like baseball in Finland at the end of the ice age. That would be a nice way to start the story of pesäpallo, but in reality, the history of the sport is much shorter and much less connected to any mythical roots in Finnishness. The father of the sport was Lauri Pihkala, the Grand Old Man of Finnish sports, who developed the rules of pesäpallo in the 1910s, modeled on American baseball and a game called kuningaspallo (“kingball”) played earlier in Finland. And kuningaspallo wasn’t born in a vacuum either—in the background there were many other ball games where the goal was to hit a ball, run, catch, and tag out opponents. The closest equivalents of kuningaspallo were the Swedish långboll, the German Schlagball and the Russian laptá. Strictly speaking, pesäpallo is a case of cultural appropriation of pan-European and American traditions. The name of the sport is even a direct translation from the American pastime. Despite their

Written by Matti Mäkelä Translated by Owen F. Witesman

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photos: Museum Centre of Finland

A similar level of baseball enthusiasm in New York City would mean that

Yankee Stadium would need to have 15 million seats.

similarities, there are also many differences between baseball and pesäpallo, the biggest of which is that in pesäpallo, the ball is pitched upwards, not towards the batsman as in baseball and cricket. This difference is apparently due to the fact that Pihkala, who found baseball boring (Homer Simpson also made this observation while trying to watch his favorite sport during his beer strike) wanted more action in the game. Charlie Brown might also enjoy the pitching style in pesäpallo, since he would never have to worry about another line drive.

seem high unless you know that the population of Vimpeli is only 2,756. A similar level of baseball enthusiasm in New York City would mean that Yankee Stadium would need to have 15 million seats. However, in the 1990s, the situation seemed to be changing. The all-time crowd record for the top pesäpallo series was made in 1997, when the total number of spectators hit almost half a million. Helsinki had got its own major league team a year earlier, sponsors had taken notice, and pesäpallo seemed like it might become a serious challenger to hockey and football. But two years later, everything was different. The Helsinki-based club Kaisaniemi Tigers had been successful athletically, but financially the club’s two-year story was a disaster that ended in bankruptcy at the end of the 1998 season. In the same year, the reputation of pesäpallo was also tarnished by a match-fixing scandal involving a large number of players as well as management and other staff from different teams. Police eventually investigated 460 people, of whom 30 were convicted. The scandal lingered in the headlines, damaging the reputation of the sport and reducing its popularity.

The first official game of pesäpallo in its current form was played in Helsinki on November 14, 1920. Thanks to the lobbying work of Pihkala and other activists, the game spread rapidly and became known as the national sport of the young nation. In the 1920s and 1930s, the game was particularly popular in schools and civil guard units (a voluntary national defense organization active from 1918 to 1944). Finland, which had just become independent, was a country divided by the wounds of the Civil War of 1918, and the reputation of pesäpallo as a sport from “white” (vs “red”) Finland prevented the wider adoption of the sport by the working-class sports movement until after the Second World War. Similarly, Swedish-speaking Finns initially shunned the sport as too connected to Fennoman ideology. Pihkala’s own background and worldview also influenced the reputation of pesäpallo. Pihkala was ardently nationalistic and belonged to the White Army during the Civil War. Later it was alleged that he was involved in activities during the war that would now likely be considered war crimes. After the war, Pihkala served as the sports director of the civil guards and promoted the sport as a form of training especially suitable for soldiers. According to Pihkala, the sport was not suitable for women, for whom he recommended tennis, swimming and figure skating.

Over the last decade, the popularity of pesäpallo has risen again and small indications of urbanization have even been seen again: the Pesäpallo World Cup was held in 2017 in Turku, and the Tampere club Manse PP took the Finnish championship in 2021. Internationally, pesäpallo is an extremely small sport, although it has spread to Sweden and Australia with the help of Finnish immigrants. The World Cup began in 1992, with Finland, as expected, taking all the gold medals awarded. Second in the medal stats is Australia, where the World Cup has been played twice. The 2019 tournament was held in India, and for the first time, the traditional cricket countries of India and Bangladesh took top rankings. Interestingly, pesäpallo has not spread to these countries with migrants but through social media. So what is the future of pesäpallo? Of course, there are big challenges for the sport. Competition for the interest of participants and spectators is intensifying all the time with new sports and forms of leisure. On the other hand, pesäpallo has a strong and committed fan base, and in a positive future scenario, the sport could first become the number one sport in Finland’s major cities and then maybe even an international success story. That would probably require rethinking the rules and practices of the sport; for example, acceptance could be promoted in cricket countries by adding tea breaks as part of the culture of the game. s

Since the Second World War, the position of pesäpallo has stabilized, and practically every Finn has played the sport at least during school physical education classes (however, due to the difficulty of the sport, that hasn’t always been a good thing, as can be seen from many recollections of childhood trauma related on the Internet). Pesäpallo continues to divide the country but for geographical rather than ideological reasons. After ice hockey and football, pesäpallo is the third most watched team sport in Finland, but its popularity is concentrated in the countryside and small towns. But in the sport’s core areas, its popularity is incredibly huge. For example, the average number of spectators for the team in the town of Vimpeli is more than 2,000, with a spectator record of 5,216. These numbers won’t

Above: A game of pesäpallo in Brisbane, Australia in 1969. Photo: Olavi Koivukangas / Museum Centre of Finland

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photo: Visit Saimaa

Saimaa area in a nutshell

Saimaa Lake Saimaa is the largest lake in Finland – and the fourth largest in the whole Europe. It is not one big lake though, but rather consists of many smaller ones that are interconnected. Roughly measured, Lake Saimaa is 200 kilometres long and 100 kilometres wide. It is one of the most popular summer cottage areas in Finland and has about 25,000 holiday homes. The best-known and at the same time rarest animal living in the lake is saimaannorppa – the Saimaa ringed seal – which became isolated from other ringed seal populations of the Baltic Sea about 8000 years ago, just after the ice age ended. Sadly, it is a highly endangered species today. The largest cities in the Saimaa area are Imatra, Lappeenranta, Mikkeli and Savonlinna.

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Imatra

Mikkeli

Imatra is home to 25,000 people. The main industries are the paper industry and tourism: the city is located right next to the Russian border. Imatra is known for its exceptionally magnificent rapids, which is the oldest tourist attraction in Finland, and for the State Hotel on its shores. Dating back to 1903, the building reminiscent of a fairytale castle is well worth a visit.

The history of Mikkeli, with a population of 52,000, is quite belligerent. The city is mentioned in various peace treaties since the 14th century and has often been involved in war battles. During the last war, the headquarters of Finnish army was there. That is why the city has, among other things, the Headquarters Museum. Mikkeli is also Finland’s second most popular summer cottage location: there are about 10,000 cottages there.

Lappeenranta Lappeenranta is the 13th biggest city in Finland and has a population of about 72,000. It was founded as early as 1649 and its history can be seen, for example, in the Lappeenranta fortress area, which has many museums, galleries and much more to see. The nearby city harbour is also beautiful and offers access to Saimaa cruises.

Savonlinna Savonlinna is especially known for its beautiful medieval castle called Olavinlinna, as well as the famous Opera Festival that the castle hosts every summer. The city is home to 32,000 people and its surroundings are full of beautiful sights and landscapes – for example, one of Finland’s national landscapes, Punkaharju, the narrow seven-kilometer-long ridge formed during the ice age. Tsar Nicholas I of Russia fell in love with it so much that in 1843 he ordered the area to be protected. s

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photo: eukonkanto.fi

Competitors in the water obstacle at Wife Carrying World Championships in Sonkajärvi, 2019.

Finland, paradise of

crazy summer events

F

Written by Roope Lipasti Translated by Owen F. Witesman

inland’s short summer gets people so amped up that every year we see dozens of world championships, each more outlandish than the last. The clear favorite in this panoply of sporting mayhem is the throwing of various objects as far as one possibly can. Previous years’ lob-fests have included mouse pads, keyboards, mobile phones, and toilet paper tubes. The mosquito killing race was also legendary, but it had to be put down after some animal rights activists came out against it. Welcome to Finland’s Nonsensical Summer!

Up to 300 teams compete for the World Cup title—although unfortunately foreign groups enter now as well, so Finland winning isn’t a foregone conclusion anymore. www.suopotkupallo.fi

Heavy Metal Knitting ( July) The idea is to knit with real knitting needles but to the beat of heavy metal music. Attitude decides the winner. The competition is held in Joensuu, in North Karelia. Last time, a Japanese knitting team won. www.heavymetalknitting.com

Wife Carrying (1-2 July)

Summer Ice Fishing

The Wife Carrying World Championships are held every year in Sonkajärvi. The track is 253.5 meters, and along the way there is one water obstacle about a meter deep, as well as two dry obstacles. The wife being carried can be one’s own or on loan, but she must be more than seventeen years old and weigh at least forty-nine kilograms. To enter, just arrive an hour before the competition starts. www.eukonkanto.fi

Finland is a nation of ice fishermen. The problem with this activity is that the ice is all gone by June at the latest. But not to worry! Every year Pudasjärvi, in Northern Ostrobothnia, hosts a summer ice fishing event in which competitors take a sheet of Styrofoam, carve a hole in it, and fish through that. www.pudu.fi/pilikkiviikko

Sauna Whisk Throw (Midsummer) A sauna whisk is a bundle of (usually) birch twigs with the leaves on, which Finns use to beat themselves in the sauna. So why not also use a sauna whisk as sports equipment? The Sauna Whisk Throwing World Championships in Urjala in the Pirkanmaa region are a Midsummer event. Whisks can be purchased at the event, so you don’t have to bring your own. www.facebook.com/vihdanheitonmm

Scythe Harvesting World Championships (August) Every summer in Liminganlahti, near Oulu, athletes line up to compete at mowing grass with a scythe. This traditional event requires speed, technique, and quality of the end result. The men’s division mows one hundred square meters, while the women’s division is limited to one half that area. www.liminka.fi

Beer Floating This isn’t actually a competition, but may be one of the most unique summer events in Finland. Beer Floating is a day-long, unofficial event held in the Helsinki region, where a random number of participants float on all sorts of rafts and inflatable rings, swilling beer as they float on the Keravanjoki or Vantaanjoki rivers. The Beer Float is on the last weekend in July or the first weekend in August, depending on the vibe. www.kaljakellunta.org s

Swamp Soccer (15-16 July) Relatively speaking, Finland is the swampiest country in the world, and Finland is also always crap at football, so no wonder we invented a version of the sport where we can almost hold our own. This is swamp soccer, where you play. . . in a swamp—in Hyrynsalmi in the Kainuu region. 12


Lusto on koko perheen vierailukohde, joka tarjoaa oivalluksia ja erilaisia näkökulmia metsän ymmärtämiseen. Erikoisnäyttelyt 2022

South Carelian Car Museum Open: 3.5.-30.9.2022 Tuesday – Friday and Sunday: 12.00-18.00 Saturday: 10.00-15.00 Monday: closed Harmaakalliontie 5, 55300 Rauha www.ekautomuseo.fi

• Toivoa puusta • Kattoristikoiden ratkojat – keskiaikaisten puurakenteiden jäljillä • Metsänkuninkaan syntymäpäivä. Nallekarhu 120 vuotta! • Myö Saimaalla – valokuvia vesiltä ja metsistä

Metsäkulttuuripäivät Metsäkulttuuripäivät 14.–16.6.2019

17.–19.6.2022

Lustontie 1, Punkaharju • Lusto.fi


Saimaa region PLEASE LEAVE THIS MAGAZINE FOR THE NEXT GUEST – THANK YOU!

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in these high standard hotels

01 Center Hotel Imatra

06 Hotel Salpa

10 Scandic Mikkeli

Koskenparras 3, 55100 Imatra Tel. +358 44 430 0600 www.centerhotelimatra.fi

Lappeenrannantie 265, 54530 Luumäki Tel. +358 10 311 3840 www.hotellisalpa.fi

Mikonkatu 9, 50100 Mikkeli Tel. +358 300 870 422 www.scandichotels.fi

02 Holiday Club Punkaharju

07 Original Sokos Hotel Seurahuone Savonlinna

11 Scandic Patria

Hiekkalahdentie 128, 58430 Kulennoinen Tel. +358 43 825 4531 www.holidayclubresorts.com

03 Holiday Club Saimaa Rauhanrinne 1, 55320 Lappeenranta Tel. +358 300 870 900 www.holidayclubresorts.com

04 Hotel Punkaharju Punkaharjun Harjutie 596, 58450 Punkaharju Tel. +358 15 511 311 www.hotellipunkaharju.fi

Kauppatori 4-6, 57130 Savonlinna Tel. +358 10 764 2200 www.sokoshotels.fi

08 Original Sokos Hotel Vaakuna Mikkeli Porrassalmenkatu 9, 50100 Mikkeli Tel. +358 010 764 2100 www.sokoshotels.fi

09 Scandic Imatran Valtionhotelli Torkkelinkatu 2, 55100 Imatra Tel. +358 05 789 9300 www.scandichotels.fi

05 Hotel Rakuuna

photo: Visit Saimaa

Mannerheiminkatu 8, 53900 Lappeenranta Tel. +358 10 340 2040 www.rakuunahotelli.fi

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Kauppakatu 21, 53100 Lappeenranta Tel. +358 5 677 511 www.scandichotels.fi

12 Spahotel Casino Savonlinna Kylpylaitoksentie 7, 57130 Savonlinna Tel. +358 29 320 0540 www.spahotelcasino.fi

13 Summer Hotel Tott Satamakatu 1, 57130 Savonlinna Tel. +358 10 764 2250 www.sokoshotels.fi


Vuokatti – it’s in our nature

Oulu

Kajaani

In the heart of Arctic Lakeland, Vuokatti is in the northernmost part of the Finnish

Vuokatti

Lakeland. This is where the best bits of the Finnish Lakeland and Lapland meet. Here you’ll experience the enchanting Finnish summer by the crystal blue lakes and embrace your outdoorsy spirit and try fishing, hiking, watersports or biking. There are also several national parks in the vicinity of Vuokatti, which are great for day trips into nature and the joyous experiences it offers.

Helsinki

VUOKATTI.FI


photo: Envato

Finnish nature is ruthless

Written by Roope Lipasti Translated by Owen F. Witesman

Brown bear cubs.

There may not be lions or poisonous scorpions in Finland, but we do have wild summer beasts.

Bears

southwestern region. Running into a wolf isn’t likely, but in the winter you can see their tracks, although usually those are just from the dog next door. The Finnish national basketball team is called the Wolf Pack. This name comes from the fact that a wolf can survive on its own but is even stronger as part of a group.

Finland’s largest predator is usually encountered in the forest, although sightings are extremely rare. There are about 2,500 bears in Finland, with most of them in Lapland or on the eastern border. The traditional way to protect yourself from them is mooning: if a woman was standing in the cattle pasture with her lower body bare, pointing her bottom into the woods, bears wouldn’t come around looking for trouble. Sadly, this beautiful old tradition is a rapidly vanishing folk art. Karhu (Finnish for bear) is also the name of one of the most popular beers in Finland, which you can enjoy forest of urban settings.

Lynxes The only wild feline predator in Finland is the lynx. They live all over the country, although there are only a couple of thousand of them. The lynx is a timid animal, so it is best seen on the roadside after having been killed by a speeding car. The Finnish lynx grows up to 140 centimeters long and weighs a maximum of 25 kilos. Tampere has a hockey club of the same name, which comes from the coat of arms of the province of Häme, which features a lynx. When the Ilves hockey club was founded in 1931, lynxes had been hunted nearly to extinction. In 1962, the species was protected, and the population has since recovered.

Wolves There are about three hundred wolves in Finland. The last time one harmed a human was in 1882, but nevertheless, we have conversations every year about whether we should get rid of them entirely. In any case, they range all the way into southern Finland, especially the 18


Wolverines An extremely endangered scavenger that lives in Lapland, with only about four hundred surviving. The name comes from the animal’s outrageous table habits: it “wolfs down” its food at a terrible speed, swallowing large pieces of meat whole.

Sea eagles

RUNNING INTO A WOLF ISN’T

The sea eagle is the largest bird in Finland, with a wingspan of up to 240 centimeters. In the archipelago, you can see them flying in the sky, but it isn’t a good idea to get much closer than that.

LIKELY, BUT IN THE WINTER YOU

CAN SEE THEIR TRACKS, ALTHOUGH USUALLY THOSE ARE JUST FROM THE DOG NEXT DOOR.

Gulls Especially dangerous for holidaymakers enjoying ice cream or other treats outside in the square. The arrogance of seagulls is only matched by their cunning, so tourists should stay vigilant to avoid being robbed by this terrible beast. There are an especially large number of these mafiosi of the bird world in the Helsinki harbor area. However, the Finnish word for them, lokki, is also used to mean a person who scrounges off others.

Basically harmless middle-aged men on vacation who someone forgot on a riverboat, a restaurant patio or in a park. Goofy guys are drunk for about four weeks straight, that is for their entire summer vacation. Identifying characteristics: dressed in ancient cargo shorts, stretched and worn-out t-shirt that barely covers belly, sandals (and socks) and sunglasses. His face will be red from the sun and swollen from the alcohol. Goofy guys usually just grumble to themselves and are mostly innocuous but very tiresome. Paying attention to them is not a good idea because they tend to be clingy.

Mosquitoes Despite its small size, a frightening adversary in the Finnish summer. There are fewer of them in the cities, but as soon as you move into the woods or, especially, to a summer cottage, their armies attack. Mosquitoes suck blood and can smell out precisely which party guest they most want to drink dry. In all likelihood, it’s you. Mosquitoes are also skilled in psychological warfare: when you go to sleep, one is usually hiding in your room and will begin whining the moment you fall asleep. Mosquitoes are surprisingly intelligent, which is why it doesn’t help much to get up and turn on the lights to hunt down your tormentor. It will just hide and then start again once conditions are more favorable again. If for some reason you happen to kill the troublemaker, the commander of the mosquito army will have left a backup in the room, who will continue the torture. You might think that if you give up and let it drink its fill, the problem will be solved, but that is not the case, since the aforementioned backup will be there to take over.

Blue-green algae Blue-green algae isn’t an animal, but it is alive: cyanobacteria have become a regular guest on almost all Finnish shorelines at some point each summer. It forms a pea soup-like algae porridge in the water, which looks less than inviting to swim in. And you shouldn’t, because it’s toxic. It can cause rashes, nausea, diarrhea and lung problems. As with many other distress calls nature is sending up, Finland is mainly addressing this through adaptation: go swimming when there is no algae instead of treating the root cause, which is eutrophication.

Deer flies The deer fly may be the most fearsome enemy in the Finnish natural world. On the plus side, it usually only appears in the fall: deer flies live in the woods and fly into your hair, drop their wings and set up residence so tightly that no renter from hell would be harder to evict. Deer flies are also almost impossible to kill. Even if you hit it with a hammer, it might survive. (Best to get it off your head before trying, though).

THE ARROGANCE OF SEAGULLS IS

ONLY MATCHED BY

The Sun

THEIR CUNNING, SO

When the temperature exceeds 24 degrees, Finns begin to melt. Work falls by the wayside, no one is able to sleep, no one does anything, and the air is filled with weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. The people who complain the most are the same ones who were dreaming all winter about summer and the sun coming back. When the temperature exceeds 28 degrees, a national emergency is declared, and instructions are given to the elderly that they should drink water if they’re hot. But when autumn arrives, we all remember how lovely summer was after all. s

TOURISTS SHOULD

STAY VIGILANT TO

AVOID BEING ROBBED BY photo: Envato

THIS TERRIBLE BEAST.

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photo: Envato

Goofy guys


Aukioloajat: www.kalastajankoju.com

Photo: Sanna Kannisto ©Kuvasto ry

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Mikkelin taidemuseo on vaihtuvien näyttelyiden näköalapaikka.

SODAN JA RAUHAN KESKUS MUISTI & PÄÄMAJAMUSEO muisti.org

Suur-Savon museo on mikkeliläisen historian aarreaitta ulkokuoresta alkaen.

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MIKKELIN TAIDEMUSEO mikkeli.fi/taidemuseo

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SUUR-SAVON MUSEO mikkeli.fi/suursavonmuseo


– the world’s northernmost medieval castle The fortress in the wild borderland

and rocky island was chosen for its strategically significant location – the most important waterway to the north and the south in the vast Saimaa ran alongside the island. In the waters of Haukivesi and Pihlajavesi surrounding the Castle, the currents are so powerful that the water does not freeze even in the coldest winter. As such, the flowing water formed a perfect natural moat for the Castle. It is said that the last time the current by Cape Kyrönniemi froze enough to carry people was in the icy temperatures during the Winter War in 1939–1940.

In the Middle Ages, Finland belonged to the Kingdom of Sweden. Castles were in charge of defending their surroundings, but they also functioned as the administrative centres of their respective regions. Olavinlinna Castle was a castle of the Kingdom of Sweden. The Castle was founded in 1475 by the Danish-Swedish nobleman Erik Axelsson Tott (1418–1481). He hired masons to build a castle on an island in the Straits of Kyrönsalmi in Lake Saimaa. This small

Written by Jouni Marjamäki, Keeper, The National Museum of Finland, Olavinlinna Castle

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Today, Olavinlinna Castle is one of the key attractions in Eastern Finland. The Castle attracts almost 150,000 visitors annually, including the guests of the Opera Festival. The summer months are the busiest season.

photo: The Finnish Heritage Agency / Timo Seppäläinen

Olavinlinna


photo: S Group Cooperative Suur-Savo

Olavinlinna Castle is an elegant and festive setting for various kinds of events. Linnantupa, the Castle Main Hall, pictured here, is one of the oldest rooms still in use Eastern Finland, if not the oldest one.

Erik Axelsson Tott named the castle after one of the most popular In 1809, Finland became an autonomous part of the Russian saints of his time, the Norwegian Viking king Saint Olaf (‘Olavi’ in Empire. This is when Olavinlinna Castle lost its importance as a Finnish). Olavinlinna Castle is in late medieval style, and its defensive former border fortress. The Castle housed a garrison until 1847. When solutions represented the top design of its time in all of the area it was no longer used for military purposes, it served as a remand around the Baltic Sea. The fortress consisted prison until it was left empty. The Castle’s IN SUMMER 1967, THE of the main castle, the bailey and five round popularity as an attraction was related to cannon towers of a brand new design at the the rapid development of inland steamboat SAVONLINNA OPERA FESTIVAL time. Three of these towers still remain: the transport since the 1860s–1870s. The City BEGAN OPERATING IN THE Bell Tower, the Church Tower and Kijl’s Tower. of Savonlinna’s location as a hub of ship CASTLE. SINCE THEN IT HAS Based on the accounting made during the traffic, as well as the city’s development into BEEN A LARGE ANNUALLY HELD reign of the King of Sweden Gustav Vasa a spa destination, brought tourists who were SUMMER EVENT. (1496–1560), the Castle had about 150–200 fascinated by the mystical ruined castle on a men. The Castle’s inhabitants were divided rocky island. A few fires ravaged the Castle in into three groups: officials, craftspeople and soldiers. Most of the 1870s, after which it was repaired and the state started looking after castle folk lived in the castle facilities, which may not have been very it as a historical monument. comfortable, especially during the cold winters. People also lived in Olavinlinna quickly became a popular tourist attraction and wooden cottages in the large courtyard, which may have been more venue for summer parties. In 1912–14 and 1916, opera singer Aino pleasant during winter. Some of the castle’s people also lived in the Ackté held opera festivals in the Castle’s large courtyard. A major small settlement on the opposite bank. restoration project of the Castle started in 1961 and finished in 1975, which also marked the Castle’s 500th anniversary. During the restoration, in summer 1967, the Savonlinna Opera Festival began From a fortress to a historical attraction operating in the Castle. Since then it has been a large annually held summer event. In 1743, Sweden lost Olavinlinna Castle to Russia, and the Castle The beautiful lake scenery surrounding the Castle has drawn became a Russian border fortress. The Empress of Russia Catherine visitors to the area for centuries. You can learn about the Castle on II (1729–1796) appointed the Russian general and count Alexander tours led by professional guides throughout the year. The fact that Suvorov (1729–1800) to build a chain of fortresses in Eastern Finland. Olavinlinna Castle is the world’s northernmost medieval castle that is Olavinlinna Castle was the northernmost fortress in this chain still standing adds some lustre to its story. The majestic castle island and a key stronghold. During Suvorov’s era, the bastion system surrounded by wonderful lake scenery is beautiful in all seasons, but of Olavinlinna Castle was upgraded. The bastions of this Russian the Castle and the City of Savonlinna are the busiest in July. You can era, such as the Thick Bastion, mark the appearance of the Castle also see the exterior of the Castle from the lake by embarking on a powerfully, even today. steamboat cruise: many cruisers pass by the Castle. 22


photo: The Finnish Heritage Agency / Timo Seppäläinen

A museum and a dramatic setting for events The Castle hosts a variety of events around the year. After the busy tourism season of July and the Savonlinna Opera Festival, the auditorium of Olavinlinna Castle is used for concerts of various genres from heavy rock to pop. In between the concerts in August, the Castle has also hosted the Olavinlinna Boxing Night event in the last few years. In the winter season, the Castle offers Dark Tours for adults only that cover the Castle’s darkest history. On the Nooks and Crannies tours, you can see the Castle’s labyrinthine corners that are usually closed to the public. In the King’s Hall in the winter, you may even get to solve a murder mystery over dinner. Among young adults, the occasional Escape the Castle event, where the whole castle becomes an immense escape room, has become especially popular. During the winter holiday season in February–March, we offer a programme to families with children, such as storytime tours and museum bingo. The culmination of the winter season and the largest winter event of the last few years has been the Christmas Market in December, the preparation for which begins with the lighting of the decorative lights on Finnish Independence Day. The Castle’s festive lighting culminates in the Christmas Market where visitors can see the Castle in an entirely new light. The Castle’s rooms include guide boards that provide information about the life in the Castle. In the permanent exhibition on the Castle’s ground floor, you can see the Castle’s history on a timeline, as well as miniatures and objects that you can touch. In the summer, the favourite activity of children and playful adults is the workshop at the Little Duke’s Hall where you can dress in historical outfits, try on a suit of armour, set the table for the castellan, build a miniature of the Castle from building blocks and compile historical maps of Finland. The Castle can also be used to host private celebrations throughout the year, for which it provides a festive setting. The facilities are rented out for meetings and parties. The Olavinlinna Chapel, built in the Church Tower in late 15th century, is still being used for it original purpose. Events such as small-scale weddings, christening ceremonies and concerts are held there. The castle café and restaurant Linnantupa is open in the summer and serves customers in one of the oldest halls in the Castle. During the Opera Festival in July and the concerts in August, restaurant services are provided at multiple points around the Castle. Olavinlinna Restaurants also offer catering for private events held in the Castle. A part of the National Museum of Finland’s collection of museums Olavinlinna Castle is a part of the National Museum of Finland. The National Museum of Finland is a national cultural history museum that maintains and develops its cultural history collections, promotes the study and use of cultural heritage and provides exhibition and public services at its museums throughout Finland: the National Museum, the Seurasaari Open-Air Museum, Tamminiemi, the Maritime Museum of Finland, Langinkoski, Hvitträsk, Louhisaari Manor, the Prison, Häme Castle and Olavinlinna Castle. Serving as a provider of social commentary and an international influencer in the field of cultural history, the National Museum of Finland is part of the Finnish Heritage Agency, which operates under the Ministry of Education and Culture. s 23

In the winter, Olavinlinna Castle is illuminated starting from Finnish Independence Day on 6 December until the Christmas Market in mid-December.

OPENING TIMES January 1st – May 31st Monday-Friday 10.00-16.00, Saturday-Sunday 11.00-16.00. Last guided tour starts at 15.00. Ticket sale closes at 15.15. Visitors can join the already started last guided tour until 15.15. June 1st - June 30th and August 1st - August 31st Every day 11.00-18.00. Last guided tour starts at 17.00. Ticket sale closes at 17.15. Visitors can join the already started last guided tour until 17.15. July 1st - July 31st Every Day 10.00-17.00. Last guided tour starts at 16.00. Ticket sale closes at 16.15. Visitors can join the already started last guided tour until 16.15. September 1st - December 15th and December 27th - December 30th. Monday-Friday 10.00-16.00, Saturday-Sunday 11.00-16.00. Last guided tour starts at 15.00. Ticket sale closes at 15.15. Visitors can join the already started last guided tour until 15.15. TICKETS Adults € 12,00 Groups over 10 persons/students/conscripts/senior citizens € 8,00 Children 7-17 years € 6 Family ticket (2 adults and 1-4 children) € 25,00 Under 7 years old free of charge Online ticket shop https://www.kansallismuseo.fi/en/olavinlinna


SAIMAA TI MES

COLUMN

The most important hotel employee Written by Minna Lindgren Translated by Owen F. Witesman

I love hotel room attendants. They are

reliable, unobtrusive and irreplaceable. We can replace doctors, lawyers and hotel

receptionists with artificial intelligence but not the person who cleans up the clutter

that vacationers or business travelers leave in hotel rooms.

In a good hotel, a room attendant is always on site. You can identify them by their enormous carts full not only of a wide variety of cleaning supplies but also fresh towels, fresh sheets and endless small sundries to meet various guest needs: hygiene products, combs, sewing kits, shoe polish, pens, paper, irons, laundry bags, maybe even a Bible and birth control if someone happens to ask. You can get a warm blanket or a soft pillow. If they don’t have what a visitor needs, they get it.

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photo: Envato

But the room attendant sees all. They

go in every room after the guests leave. The most skilled professionals will also know when that moment is right.

Because I’ve worked as a cleaner, too, I never leave my room messy when I go. I clean the toilet and even fold my nightgown, despite which the pro still smooths any wrinkles I might leave. And because I clean after myself before leaving, it’s easy for me to give the room attendant a cheerful greeting. Maybe also because I consider them to be one of the most important people when it comes to my own comfort. After all, they are also the guard who ensures that no one else slips into my room. s

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Minna Lindgren is an internationally recognized author. In addition to book tours, she spends nights in hotels while presenting operas to people across Europe.

Photo: Jarkko Mikkonen

Most hotel guests don’t greet room attendants. Maybe they don’t notice the person standing next to the big cart. Or they think they might not share a common language, which saves the paying customer the hassle of a universal smile and wave. It could also be that the guest really is as busy as they’re trying to look—or they’re ashamed of the mess they’ve left behind. Because really, how many times have you exited a hotel room in a terrible rush, leaving behind the aftermath of a boisterous night for someone else to clean up? But the room attendant sees all. They go in every room after the guests leave. The most skilled professionals will also know when that moment is right. They won’t knock on the door when we’re still doing our morning routine or resting and can tell from how we’re walking and dressed whether we’re popping down for a quick breakfast or leaving on longer business. While we’re taking the sights, sitting in meetings, or doing other business, an attendant is inspecting our rooms. They see all the dirty clothes left on the floor—yes, including the underwear—, notice the empty wine bottles and count the dirty glasses, see the leftover food and stains on the towels, remove the hair and Band-Aids from the bathroom floor drain, glance at what we’re reading, and look at what kind of clothes we packed. They clean everything, set the clothes in a pile, make the bed, fold our nightshirts on the pillow, and arrange our random stuff on the desk at right angles – as if trying to teach us how a clean home should look. And what a pleasure it is to return to such a room!


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Pattoi heritage house was built in 1873. Nowadays the museum tells a story from a time when long-established living and farming traditions were alive.

The Juva Museum, the Juva Karelian Museum and Art Gallery Kuninkaankartano in Partala King’s Manor yard introduce you to the agricultural life before and now.

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WELCOME

Welcome to ohpeuns ! summer wit

Book in advance from the sales service 010 764 2000 (0,0835 €/puhelu + 0,1209 €/min) or sales.suur-savo@sok.fi | Room reservations from SOKOSHOTELS.FI

SOKOSHOTELS.FI | RAFLAAMO.FI

WARMLY WELCOME! We invite you to enjoy the tasteful dishes and rich region of Savonlinna.

Castle Olavinlinna, Savonlinna

Satamakatu 11, Savonlinna

RAFLA AMO.FI