After a lazy morning and a quick brunch, we set out to take some pictures by the lake. The waters were crystal clear and absolutely still, perfectly mirroring the sky above.
Just as we were about to leave, an old man pulls up to the pier in his row boat asking for help. Turns out, he was on his way to get a couple of beers when he grew tired of rowing. The poor old man was a bit tipsy already and sign of dementia were setting in. Somehow we found out where he lived and lured him to his home with the false promise of more beer waiting on the other side.
We decided to skip Helsinki altogether and head northwards in the direction of Nordkapp, Norway – land off the midnight sun. The next destination was Oulu, A coastal city in northern Finland. By the time we reached, it was well past one o clock in the morning and for some reason, all websites showed that each and every hotel in the vicinity was either booked or WAY out of our price range. Our only option was to spend the night in the car.
Through the night, I had seen the sun both set and rise, in the span of three hours. Now when I say that the sun had set, not even for a moment during the night did we experience complete darkness. Sunset around eleven pm was absolutely beautiful. Hues of pink brushed across the sky and the sun, a big ball of fire in the horizon.
We ended up parking in the lot in front of the railway station. Thank god for city wide free wifi! After having spent the night in the railway station parking lot, we woke up at about 8:45 in the morning. The entire experience was quite disorienting because not even for a moment during the night, did we experience proper darkness.
We began making plans for the day to come and just as we were about to head out, a gentleman knocked on our window and asked us if we were from India. Like this, we got talking and he apologised (on behalf of the city) for us having to spend the night in the car. Before we knew it, he took is on a walking tour of central oulu, acting as our personal guide and feeding us with interesting tidbits of trivia. The hospitable nature of Finnish people continues to amaze me. In addition to a quick tour, he also gave us a quick lesson on the parking systems in the EU which turned out to be very helpful.
We visited a traditional Finnish farmers’ market known as “Kauppahalli” where we sampled some juicy baby tomatoes and some delicious blueberry tarts called Mustikkapiirakka. Reindeer meat is also very popular in this region along with a variety of local sausages. Finnish “squeaky cheese” was an interesting addition to our refrigerator!
He took us to a pub housed in the oldest building in Oulu. The building was small but had plenty of character. One of the most interesting things was that the doorways were extremely low since back in the day- Finnish people were extremely short.
From the bartender at the tavern to the sweet lady who sold us Finnish cheese, our new friend Jaakko proudly told everyone who we were and what we are doing-spreading awareness about organ donation. It was wonderful, knowing that we are able to reach so many people with our message through this journey!
We left the city of Oulu after a late lunch and made our way towards Finnish Lappland, home to members of the Sami tribe, where we would be spending the night.