Tag Archives: oulu

Oulu – Part 5

Let us catch the sights of Oulu once more, by bicycle. We hired a bike on a few days, and took advantage of the wonderful cycling network.

Cycling in Oulu

By the end of May, the sun truly came out, and the temperature rose over 20C. That meant that the locals were out in force. On a wedding shoot on the beach.

Spring has sprung!

Fishing on the estuary (yes, that is that guy’s real skin colour).

Spring has sprung!

Having a beer in the sun.

Spring has sprung!

Wearing short shorts.

Summer has come early

All in the name of catching as much sun as possible. It made me realise that we do take sunlight and heat for granted in Australia. Next, we travel even further north, to Lapland.

Eat for Scandi! – Part 5

A merry Christmas and a happy new year to everyone! I hope that you all enjoyed your merry season with your loved ones and weren’t too silly in the process.

To continue on my series of Scandi foods, we’ll have a look at what the Finns eat. Their snack foods were rather standard (and perhaps not as highly spiced as ours), but they certainly had interesting names.

Strange Finnish Snack

But more seriously, the Finns like their baked goods, especially their sweet buns. And they also seem to like their pancakes too. We went to a traditional pancake house in the middle of Oulu, and sampled some of their savoury pancakes – Hubby had the salami and cheese.

Spring has sprung!

While I tried the salmon and dill. They were a bit too salty for me, but Hubby enjoyed his.

Spring has sprung!

We also ate some distinctly Finnish cuisine. A summer crayfish salad – refreshing as the spring weather peaked over 20C.

Spring has sprung!

Grilled reindeer steaks with lingonberry sauce – gamey and hearty.

Spring has sprung!

And shortcake tart with cloudberry sauce. I hadn’t seen cloudberries before but it’s the summer berry from Sweden and Finland. They grow on the edges of swamps and also makes a good local liqueur.

Spring has sprung!

So the Finns eat pretty well when the weather is warm, but like a lot of cold climate cultures, preserved foods (jams, pickled vegetables, meat and fish) played, and still plays, a big part of their diet. So different to Australia where the climate is so mild to have fresh food available all year round.

Eat For Scandi! – Part 4

As I mentioned, we arrived in Oulu to cooler weather, but it didn’t stop us from having a barbecue! We were invited by Hubby’s friends, who lived in the nearby town of Kiiminki, to a barbecue by the river. The Finns love doing anything outdoors, so eating outside fits the bill. But instead of electric barbecues that are so common in public parks in Australia, the council here provided firepits and free wood.

Barbecue

Once the coals are glowing, you can skewer and grill your sausages as you like it. The Finns seem to have a thing for kransky (full-flavoured, smoked pork sausages) filled with cheese! Delicious, but oh so naughty.

Barbecue

And while we ate, we watched the river, full to the brim with snow-melt, rush by.

Barbecue

Barbecue

Two weeks later we were back grilling, and this time in t-shirts! By then the river had also receded. Spring has finally arrived.

Barbecue

Oulu – Part 3

We didn’t have a car while in Oulu, and so spent a lot of time on the buses and walking. One day after dinner at a friend’s place, we walked in the twilight back to our cabin. On the way, we passed a lot of birch trees, the predominant species in Finland. They were still rather bare in early May, but their pale trucks reflected the wonderful golden light.

Nallikari

We walked by a lot of water along the way. Oulu has been built on the inlet of a river, and the city has really embraced the water. Again, it’s a place that has been built into the landscape.

Walking to Hietasaari

The locals also love the outdoors, and take to it whenever possible, whether on land (nordic walking, cycling and rollerblading being favourite summer pasttimes) or on water.

Walking to Hietasaari

Oulu is also a growing city. It has a top-class university, forestry (still mainly traditional woodchipping – the chimney is for the pulp mill), and technology – Nokia has its research and development base there. It all requires new accommodation, hence the presence of these cranes.

Walking to Hietasaari

As we got closer to the coast, the sky became more spectacular.

Nallikari at dusk

Until it gave a fitting finale.

Nallikari at dusk

Oulu – Part 2

Our cabin was by the sea – well, by the Gulf of Bothnia, which flows into the Baltic Sea. We explored the area by bike and foot as there were excellent paths along this stretch. As with much of Finland, the area was flat, characterised by reed marshes.

Nallikari

Being so flat, it could also get very windy – a great place to put a wind turbine.

Cycling in Oulu

But it wasn’t all wild marshes. As I mentioned, there were also beaches – two that I found. One of them wasn’t all that developed, just a place to kick back and enjoy the sea.

Cycling in Oulu

The other was the main beach of Oulu. It had showers, toilets, decking, a cafe and lookout, even an American-style lifeguard tower.

Nallikari

But look carefully at the photo, what is that on the water? Could it be ice? You bet ya. It was the last remains of the winter pack ice. It made a spectacular scene at sunset, but it certainly didn’t look like somewhere to take a dip, at that time of the year, at least.

Nallikari at dusk

Oulu – Part 1

We arrived at the northern Finnish city of Oulu. It’s about 100km from the Swedish border, and 200km south of the Arctic Circle. We stayed a bit of town at Nallikari, a little beachside holiday village. Yes, it’s hard to imagine that people want to go to a beach this far north, but the Finns love being outdoors.

Our cabin accommodation was very cute, in typical Scandi practical style.

Nallikari

Despite its wooden exterior, it’s surprisingly warm inside, with super insulation and even vacuum-sealed windows. It has to be as in the winter the temperature can get to -30C, and the area becomes a cross-country skiing centre. The temperature had just peeped above freezing when we arrived, and people were cleaning up in earnest in preparation for summer. This included sweeping aside existing snowdrifts and raking up a winter’s worth of leaves.

Nallikari

The sun however still poked through, making for gorgeous spring sunsets, and neverending twilights.

Nallikari

The lack of proper night time was certainly hard to get used to. The photo above was taken at 9.30pm, and the sky darkened to a dark blue by 10.30, but it never got black. By 3.30am the sun was on its way up once again. The lack of real block-out curtains in the cabin certainly didn’t help things, so it was a long time before we got some real sleep.

The day continued to lengthen during our three weeks in Finland, but we didn’t make it to summer. The sun in Oulu at midsummer would only skim the horizon and make its way up straight away, making it day for almost 24 hours. It doesn’t seem to bother the Finns, who I’ve heard spend most of the summer at all-night parties to make up for the long winters.