Our Bulli in Inari.

Finland's Life Giving Nature

When Lars worked in the Ministry of Culture, he attended short meetings and conferences in Finland. Now we gave ourselves time to experience nature, culture and people in the great Nordic country together.

We started in the capital Helsinki, drove through Swedish-speaking areas along the Gulf of Bothnia and crossed the Arctic Circle on our way to Inari in Lapland. From here the route went south along the Russian border, which we reached at Imatra. The trip ended two months later, where it began on the ferry between Helsinki and Stockholm.

The Finns rightfully have a reputation for being reserved and taciturn, but when we took the initiative, they were welcoming and helpful. The country, which gained its independence in 1917, is distinctly Nordic with traces of nearly 700 years of Swedish and over 100 years of Russian domination.

Like Denmark, it is an orderly welfare state, where institutions and systems function well in spite of fewer contributors and more enjoyers. Finland often takes first place in international measurements of happiness. Membership of the defence alliance NATO fell into place shortly before our visit, and a new right-wing coalition government was formed while we were there.

Much seemed familiar, but Finland is sparsely populated compared to Denmark, and nature is bigger, wilder and omnipresent. We drove on deserted roads through vast forests, hiked on beautiful nature trails, experienced the midnight sun and camped with views over some of the more than 180.000 lakes. The journey became a long, life giving nature bath, and meeting Lapland's Sami culture reminded us of the importance of interacting respectfully with nature.

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Parliament House in Helsinki.
The Sami Parliament and Cultural Centre Sajos in Inari.
The border to Russia in Imatra.

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