Visiting Helsinki last year, I stayed fascinated by how close Finland was to nature. Lakes, forests were a cherished part of the city and yes, you were welcome to forage there for berries and mushrooms alike… The ferry to Tallinn offered a stunning view on the sweet little islands along the coast, some with just a handful of wooden houses, their colours blending beautifully with the autumn ones. Such a peaceful way of living, in harmony with the seasons.
The lake region, a mere 1h30 drive from Helsinki airport seemed the perfect place to spend half term with the children, let them forget tablet and video games for a while. We drove through forests of tall and elegant firs, draped in dark green foliage. Here and there a few houses, painted red and white, standing out in the landscape. Reindeers grazing peacefully in the fields, raising their head to watch us go past.
There is was, our sweet little retreat, right by the lake, the trees reflecting in the water.
We settled in, made a fondue, played games.
And then, the magic happened.
It started at dusk with just a few flakes, building up to a thick carpet. Forget bedtime: there was snowmen to make and snowball fights to make… We then warmed up in the sauna, as Finnish tradition dictates, then settled down by the chimney fire, hot chocolate in hand. I could picture this as a snow globe scene: the red wooden house by the lake, gentle light shining through the windows, swirls of snow all around.
We had arrived in Finland in autumn. There were still touches of copper, golden yellow in nature. We woke up to a winter wonderland, a stunning palette of grey, black and white. I poured myself a cup of coffee and went to sit on the little pier by the lake, watching the steam rise and the firs reflect in the water, flakes dancing gently all around me. And oh, trust me: there is no better therapy in life…
There soon was laughter behind me. The children were playing hide and seek, over the moon to be ankle deep in snow, their cheeks already pink in delight. We drove to Rauma, to see the pastel coloured houses of the historical centre. There was only a gentle dusting of white there: we watched toddlers rolling snow to make a sculpture, collecting dozens of dried leaves as they went along. Blending seasons together in the most artistic way…
But back home, oh, it was still snowing. There was something ever so heart-warming going back to our little cottage, beautifully wrapped in white, finding comfort in simple things: cooking some hearty food, curling up on the sofa with a book, or simply dreaming.
New dawn, new day, new landscape.
We could see reindeers trail around the house, leading to the water.
And on the now partly frozen lake, long lines of duck paw prints.
The snow itself, iced, was sparking gently.
Needless to say, leaving Finland was hard… We already have plans to return in the summer, enjoy a BBQ by the lake, jump in the water, go kayaking. A paradise, away from everything where we can enjoy focusing on the most essential thing in life: being a family.
>> Where do I start? We flew from London to Helsinki, rented a car from there.
>> How to get there? Norwegian Airlines has really good prices from London and offer free WIFI during the flight.
>> Where do I stay? If you want to book the exact same cottage by the lake, in Vesilahti, click here.
>> How far is it? 1h30 drive from Helsinki airport.
>> What can I do around? Tampere (Moomin museum), Turku (with ferry rides to the many islands around), Rauma (adorable pastel coloured wooden houses) are all within driving range.