FINLAND

Never thought I'd visit but glad I did! My brother's girlfriend is from Finland and as they're together for quite a while now, we all went to visit the other side of the family in Finland. They live in a village near Jyväskylä, which is about three hours north of Helsinki by train.  It was March so it was terribly cold, but looked like a fairy-tale. We also celebrated my birthday there.

My first impressions of Helsinki were exactly as expected, cold, well maintained, expensive but with very good services, great public transport and very friendly yet sometimes quite introverted people. However I went on a Tinder date with a Finnish guy who was started a hat business and he talked on one end while we had a couple of beers. He recommended me to go swimming in one of the city's outdoor pools. One of them is right in the center, called Allas Sea Pool. One pool has cold water from the sea and the one next to it has heated water. Eventually I called it off as we had only one night in Helsinki and would take the train to Jyväskylä the next evening.

The train was the best and coolest one I've ever seen. As we arrived in Jyväskylä, we got to our hotel and explored the city's restaurant and nightlife scene. I expected a sleepy town but it was the opposite. In fact it's a student city so there were restaurants and bars all over the place. Lots of young people all over the center, in fact I even had a date! Besides our hotel (Scandic) had a swimming pool and sauna so it was great to relax there after a long day in cold Helsinki and the train trip. We got a car from the family-in-law and obviously we went to visit them for a day, enjoying their warm hospitality and the even warmer traditional Finnish sauna! It's just wonderful how these people live, although it's quite remote you truly relax and enjoy a serene environment with a wide view over a lake. Truly Finland.

Another absolute highlight of our stay must have been the husky safari at Mökkitalkkari Mäkiaho. You'll need a car to visit this place at about 73 kilometres from Jyväskylä. Although you might think the dogs don't enjoy running and pulling a sledge, I've never seen any animal so happy as a husky chosen to pull the sledge. They were beyond crazy and absolutely adorable. I think back to Finland with very fond memories and would definitely return!

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