February 26, 2013

Ski season goes on till late April in Lapland

Finland: Levi in Lapland

Levi is situated in Finnish Lapland in the village of Sirkka. It is the biggest and busiest ski resort in Finland. But it is a great destination for a visit any time of the year. The four changes in the season are very distinct. 

Levi Village in Lapland, Finland
View to Levi Village from the Front Piste.

There is still time to catch the end of ski season, which continues until late April. Spring is great time for skiing in the beautiful sunshine. Summertime is time of the midnight sun and great time for hiking and mountain biking. Autumn brings along the amazing leaf colours, different shades of red, orange and yellow. And again in October the nature is covered by a white blanket of snow for the next six months and Polar night arrives. January is the coldest month, but it is also the best time to spot the Northern lights.

Levi, Lapland, Finland

Levi offers a wide range of services, anything from wellness services to restaurants and activities. You can also hire the equipment needed for winter sports and even outfits, if you didn’t pack enough warm clothes to wear.

Levi ski resort, Lapland, Finland
You can find all sorts of services in Levi. And activities too; anything from bowling to winter sports.

Levi, Lapland, Finland
Skiing is the activity number 1 in Levi. There are 43 pistes in total.

Newly opened Hostel Hullu Poro (‘Crazy Reindeer’) is situated within a walking distance from the Levi Centre. It has apartments that each has two bedrooms with two single beds. Dorm beds are available too. Each apartment has its own kitchenette and living room.

Hostel Hullu Poro, Levi, Lapland, Finland
Hostel Hullu Poro. The name means 'Crazy Reindeer'.

How to get to Levi?

By air: There’s Kittilä Airport only 15 minutes away from Levi with the airport shuttle bus.
By train: Take the train either to Rovaniemi or further north to Kolari. From these destinations you can continue by bus. For train timetables check vr.fi
By bus: You can catch a long distance bus to Levi from several places in Finland. For bus connections and timetables check matkahuolto.fi
Rent a car: SIXT Rent-a-Car gives a 10% discount, if you have a valid HI Membership. See terms & conditions here.

Pictures: Henna Kokko

February 16, 2013

Hostelling @ Kartano Hostel in Kokemäki

'Hostelling @...' is a post where we take a quick look at the hostels around Finland. This time we're visiting Kartano hostel.

If you are looking for a place to relax or you are travelling from Turku to, say, Tampere, why not stay on the way at Kartano Hostel in Kokemäki.

Kartano Hostel is situated in Kokemäki, South-West Finland

Kartano Hostel is an active farmhouse too. During the summer there is a huge selection of berries that you can pick in the gardens by yourself or alternatively you can buy them freshly picked at the hostel shop, where they also sell tasty lemonades and jams made from the berries. And are you an HI Member? If you are, you get 10% discount off all the purchases made at the shop. Nice, delicious discount!

Lingonberries that will become delicious jams and lemonades.
Kartano Hostel has both private rooms as well as dormitories.

Also check out the activities available at Kartano Hostel!

February 12, 2013

Pori has one of the liveliest local culture scenes in Finland

Pori, on Finland’s west coast, has the charm of an old industrial city. The city’s port has always been a major employer, and that hasn’t changed. However, Pori is famous today for its summertime jazz festival, the venues of which are found all over the city.

Pori, Finland
River Kokemäenjoki runs through Pori.
Picture: VisitFinland Media Bank/Matti Kolho.

This is only one example showing that Pori is much more than smokestacks and old red-brick factory buildings. The river running through the city dominates the cityscape and also provides the setting for the charming Kirjurinluoto park. Pori’s attractions also include the Yyteri beach with its rolling sand dunes, just outside the city centre. In summer, the six-kilometre beach attracts locals and tourists alike.

And near Yyteri is the district of Reposaari, with its nostalgic wooden houses. This was one of Finland’s key ports in the days when majestic sailing ships plied the seas in the 17th to 19th century. Though those ships are no more, Reposaari remains an important outer harbour. Reposaari also is home to a recently restored complex of trenches and dugouts from the Second World War.

Yyteri Beach, Pori, Finland
Yyteri Beach attracts lots of visitors during sunny summer days.
Picture: Visit Finland Media Bank

Coffee and music

The streets of downtown Pori host many charming cafés. On the edge of the market square is the Sarpi bakery with its sea-buckthorn cakes, a speciality of Pori – sea buckthorn grows only on the coast. The Sarpi bakery café remains true to old traditions, with its sales staff wearing traditional bonnets and aprons.

Try this yourself next to these statues at Pori's Market Square.

In summertime, the terrace of Café Jazz is a lovely spot to catch the day’s last rays of sunlight, and Café Jazz is one of the key venues for events at the jazz festival.

Restaurant Kirjakauppa (‘Bookstore’), on Antinkatu street, has a down-to-earth atmosphere, lovely décor, and – on many days of the week – live music. Another good spot for live performances is Monttu (or ‘The Pit’), a small but legendary club that is well known on the band scene. Other live-music venues include Vaakuna and Amarillo. Concerts are occasionally held also in Valimo Hall. Kulttuurikulma (‘Culture Corner’), just off the market square, hosts many, diverse cultural events, including music and theatre performances.

A footbridge to the Kirjurinluoto Park from central Pori.

And the Pori Museum of Arts, located on the riverfront a little below City Hall, is always worth a visit. The backbone of the museum’s attraction for visitors is formed by a private collection that is supported by changing seasonal exhibitions. In the autumn, the city hosts the Pori International Puppetry Festival, with puppet shows that are great for all ages.

Hostel River – a home away from home

Only 10 minutes from the market square and a few hundred metres from the river lies a yellow wooden building that will bid you welcome: Hostel River. The renovated and tastefully decorated first-floor lobby defines the style and the atmosphere of the entire hostel: stylishly decorated but true to the history of the building, which dates back to the 1930s.

The hostel’s interior decoration is spiced with details in 1950s Nordic style. The building housed a large office from the 1950s to the 1970s – a piece of history that is still tangible in small details reminding us of the spirit of that time.

Hostel River welcomes you to stay
in Pori at address: Karjapiha 2

Hostel River was chosen as Hostel of the Year 2013 in Finland. Read more about Hostel River in a previous blog post; what makes Hostel River a special place.

How to get to Pori?

By train: From Helsinki (via Tampere) approximately 3 hours. From Tampere 1 hour 30 minutes.www.vr.fi
By bus: From Helsinki 4 hours. From Tampere 2 hours. From Turku 2 hours. www.matkahuolto.fiwww.onnibus.fi 

February 9, 2013

Hostelling @ Dream Hostel in Tampere

'Hostelling @...' is a post where we take a quick look at the hostels around Finland. This time we're visiting Dream Hostel in Tampere.

Tampere used to be the centre of industrialisation in Finland and this can still be seen in the city's daily life as well as art and culture. These days Tampere is a vibrant university town and there is something going on all the time.

Dream Hostel common areas
There's plenty of space in the common areas at Dream Hostel.

Dream Hostel is a funky design hostel that has a great backpacker atmosphere. Take advantage of the hostel's offerings: pick a book from the book swap or rent a bicycle.

Dream Hostel in Tampere, Finland
You get privacy in the dorm rooms too, thanks to the well designed bunk beds.

The staff at Dream Hostel will also tell you the best spots for the local nightlife, which is just around the corner from the hostel.

Dream Hostel in Tampere, Finland
These guys at Dream Hostel obviously know that hostelling is fun.

How to get to Tampere? Easily. By train, by bus (either Expressbus or Onnibus) or fly to Tampere by RyanAir from London, Germany, Milan or Budapest.

P.S. Check out the list '10 of the best luxury hostels in Europe' that Kash Bhattacharya made for Guardian. Dream Hostel made it to the list as the only hostel from the Nordic countries. Great work Dream Hostel!

February 5, 2013

Hostelling International launches the Big Blog Exchange

What if we could change the world using the power of blogs?
Are you a blogger? Have you ever thought about swapping lives, places, cultures and BLOGS with someone across the globe? We’re offering a unique, once in a lifetime change to do just this. Introducing, The Big Blog Exchange.

With over 170 million of them on the web at the moment, there is no doubt about the fact that blogs are fast becoming a popular news source, a place for everyday inspiration and a social hub. But we want to take the influence of blogs that one step further.

In 2013, Hostelling International is looking for sixteen passionate, talented and adventurous bloggers who will have the chance to swap lives, places, cultures and blogs simultaneously for ten days. Selected bloggers will be flown across the globe by HI, to their exchange destination. There they can explore the area, experience new things and immerse themselves in local traditions and cultures.

Big Blog Exchange

The Big Blog Exchange’s teaser site launches on 4th February 2013, providing those interested in the project with a summary of how bloggers can get involved and a trailer, giving an insight into what the opportunity entails.

The launch of the main competition site for the exchange will take place on 1st March 2013, where potential travellers can log on, create a profile and start encouraging others to vote for them. On this unique site, bloggers will also be able to divulge why they want to take part, or more importantly – how they think they can change the world using the power of their blog. 

100 finalists will then make it through to the final shortlist, which will be narrowed down to just 15 by an international jury. The final ‘sixteenth’ blogger will be a wildcard choice, hand-picked by HI to personally undergo the project, based upon the quality of their content and their reason for taking part. So, even if a blog is brand new and doesn’t gain any votes on the competition site, they are still in with a chance if the inspiration and content is great.

So, whether you’ve just set up your blog. Or whether it’s been around for ten years. Whether you have one million readers, or just the one. Whether you blog about politics, global warming, travel, fashion, beauty or even cupcakes. Wherever you live, whatever language you blog in and no matter what you write about, we are searching for the world’s most passionate bloggers, to help us change the world, using the power of blogs.

Will you help us?

Bloggers wanted

February 4, 2013

Hostelling @ Timitra Hostel in Lieksa

'Hostelling @...' is a post where we take a quick look at the hostels around Finland. This time we're visiting Timitra Hostel in Lieksa.

Timitra Hostel

Lieksa is a town near the Russian border in Karelia. It is also close to Koli, which is seen as the national landscape in Finland.

Are you an HI Member? If you are, you'll get to enjoy a 20% discount off the rental of a kayak at Timitra Hostel.

Lieksa's Timitra Hostel is situated in a building that used to serve the army, but these days it is an atmospheric hostel. The owners of the hostel have decorated the rooms and common areas with timeless Finnish design.

Lieksa also hosts the annual festival Lieksa Brass Week in July, which brings to town brass enthusiasts from all over the world to enjoy the many concerts and other events.

Rooms at Timitra Hostel are big and cozy.

How to get to Lieksa? By train via Joensuu is the most convenient way. You can also catch a bus (sadly not much information in English).

February 1, 2013

Pori’s Hostel River is Hostel of the Year 2013

New player recognised in the accommodation field.

Hostel River in Pori, Finland

Hostel River of Pori, Finland, has convinced both customers and the executive board of Hostelling International Finland of its excellence as a hostel. The national hostel association nominated Hostel River as Hostel of the Year 2013. Pori is an industrial city on Finland’s western coast and known as a lively centre of culture.

Hostel River’s proprietor, Sirkka-Liisa Peni, opened the business near downtown Pori a little under two years ago in a wooden building dating back to the 1930s. The hostel was already a very functional whole when it opened, but it is the owner’s continuous work to develop it further that has impressed the association.

The hostel’s operations have been refined continuously, and Sirkka-Liisa’s partner, Kalevi Mäkinen, has renovated the premises, making it possible to extend the facilities gradually. The interior decoration of the hostel matches the spirit and history of the old building perfectly.

Hostel River, Pori, Finland
Hostel River has rooms with up to four beds.

In addition to the premises and that decoration, the hostel has been applauded for its enthusiastic customer service. Customers thank the owner for the hospitality and for home-like premises that always feel welcoming. In addition to travellers, Hostel River caters to the locals by providing facilities for hobbies, meetings, and celebrations.

Hostel River in Pori is the Hostel of the Year 2013 in Finland
Sirkka-Liisa and Kalevi were awarded at Finnish Hostel Managers' Meeting in Helsinki in January.

Hostelling International Finland wishes to thank Sirkka-Liisa and Kalevi for their efforts to maintain the genuine spirit of hostel culture. The couple decided to shape their business into a hostel after the owner’s son returned from an InterRail trip telling stories of Europe’s hostels. Sirkka-Liisa was immediately fascinated by the idea of a relaxed, free-form accommodation service. Her ideas crystallised into their final form on an excursion to Central Europe during which the enterprising couple stayed in hostels and collected ideas and inspiration that helped to develop Hostel River into what it is now.

Check out Hostel River website on www.hostelriver.fi.

Karjapiha 2, 28100 Pori, Finland
Tel.: +358 2 534 0500
The hostel is open throughout the year. Weekdays from 7a.m. till 5p.m., other times on request.