Finland: Lake Oulu and Kärsämäki

We rented a car in Oulu and drove up along the Oulu River to Lake Oulu (Oulujärvi). Lake Oulu is a large lake in the interior. It has several islands in it, the largest of which, Manamansalo, has a national park. At the park we met up with E.’s sister Leena and her fiancee Tiina. Leena and Tiina have a couple of German shepherds and brought the younger one, Raineri, to walk with us in the park.

Raineri swimming

Raineri fetching a stick from the water

We followed a walking trail that ran along the shores of the lake, stopping occasionally where we could go down the rather steep banking to the waters edge to dangle our toes and throw sticks for Raineri.

On the beach with Leena

Erik and Leena on the shore of the lake

The Finnish forest reminds me very much of Maine, although there are differences. The trees do not grow as big (at least in the north), and the undergrowth is distinctly different. Despite that, walking through pine woods by the shores of a lake made me feel very much at home.

The shores of Lake Oulu

The shores of Lake Oulu

After enjoying our walk in the woods, we followed Leena and Tiina to their home outside of Kärsämäki, a town a couple hours’ drive south of Oulu. They live in a lovely old farmhouse in the countryside outside of town.

Farmhouse

The house

It was a hot, sweaty day and they heated up the old wood-burning sauna in one of the outbuildings.

Outbulding

One of the outbuildings (although not the one with the sauna in it)

Tiina made a vihta, a traditional implement made from a bundle of supple young birch branches used for sprinkling water on yourself in the sauna.

vihta/vasta

A vihta. Or vasta. The word vihta is used in western Finland, vasta in eastern Finland. Oulu sits right at the border between the dialect regions, so both words are used. Tomayto, tomahto.

We enjoyed the sauna in pairs and had a good dinner with Leena and Tiina. We spent the night there with them and the next day drove back to Oulu to get a flight down to Helsinki.

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