Anthony and I have recently come back from the most relaxing week of our lives.
I absolutely love going on cottage breaks (see The Hayloft post from last year) and we had already had our sunny holiday for the year (see here, here and here) and so weren’t looking for anywhere particularly hot, so it was really just a case of picking the location for our cottage. We rented a cottage in Brittany a couple of years ago and went to the Cotswolds last year, but we decided to go slightly further afield this year and even more rural.
Anthony went to Finland a few years ago on a canoeing trip and loved it so I had a browse online and found the perfect place – a cabin overlooking a lake in the West of Finland. We had originally planned to go to the North of Finland for a chance of seeing the Northern Lights but it would have required two separate flights, a lot more money and a much longer journey so we decided to go to the West instead.
We got an early train to London Gatwick – there is something very exciting about getting on a train full of people commuting to work knowing that you are jetting off somewhere exciting.
We landed in Helsinki and got a train into the centre. We arrived at our hotel to dump our bags and have a quick rest before exploring the city.
We stayed at an Omena Hotel, it was our first time staying in a keyless / reception free hotel and it was so simple and easy! Instead of checking in, you are simply sent a text message with the pin code and your room number and you let yourself in. The room had everything we needed and was really clean so I would definitely recommend.
We were exhausted from the flight so ended up having a few hours nap before heading out for something to eat and to walk around the city.
We ventured out the following morning to pick up our hire car. The weather wasn’t quite on our side that morning though so Helsinki looked a little grey but still beautiful.
Picking up the hire care was more stressful than anticipated but a few teary phone calls to the bank later, we finally drove back to our hotel.
We packed up the car and started the 4.5 hour drive to the cottage, with a couple of breaks along the way.
With Autumn being my favourite season, I was very excited to explore the Finnish countryside with the trees changing colour and I was not disappointed, even when simply driving on their motorway.
Our last stop was at Mikkeli where we had a walk around the Cathedral, which dates back to 1896.
We picked up food supplies in Savonlinna (for such a relaxed country, food shopping in Finland is done at 100mph!), and finally arrived at our cottage. It was just starting to get dark and cold and so our cottage looked like the perfect cosy retreat.
The next day we were able to explore the outside area properly.
When we first started looking for places to stay in Finland, we were very excited to discover that the vast majority of cabins (even the very basic ones) had their own saunas and the one we picked actually had two saunas – one inside and one outside!
The outdoor sauna had the most incredible view!
The cottage also came with its own rowing boat, and so we were able to try fly fishing. We bought a fishing rod online and Anthony’s granddad had lent us the flies plus a fly fishing hat and vest so Anthony very much looked the part.
Sitting on a boat listening to the water, reading my book and occasionally looking up to see Anthony looking like the cutest person I had ever seen in a fishing waistcoat and hat was heaven and was a very good way to start the holiday.
We didn’t manage to catch any actual fish but we did manage to rescue a dragonfly from drowning which I guess kind of counts as a catch…
We rowed back to our new home for the week and I felt very lucky to be staying somewhere so beautiful.
We decided not to turn the television on for the entire week and we had a week of more old fashioned entertainment – listening to the radio and playing board games by the fire. Time seemed to go much slower without the distractions of the television, social media and general modern life and I much preferred it that way. I was able to completely shut off and just enjoy the surroundings and company, which is exactly how a holiday should be.