January 29, 2014

Peruvian travel blogger enjoyed Finnish winter exotics

International travel bloggers were taken to the most intriguing destinations in Finland by the Nordic Bloggers’ Experience which is the largest travel blogger event ever organised in Finland. The NBE was organised by the Nordic Travel Fair Matka, Visit Helsinki and Visit Finland in January.

From over 100 applicants the chosen 40 travel bloggers visited Finland for one week. The bloggers were divided into three groups according to their interests: food and culture, fashion and design, nature and adventure.

HI Hostels in Helsinki had the pleasure to accommodate Peruvian Nelson. He visited Stadion Hostel, Hostel Suomenlinna, Hostel Erottajanpuisto and Eurohostel.

Despite the cold temperatures, Nelson enjoyed Finland.

“Helsinki was like a cold paradise. I never expected to find what I found: a vibrant city full of life surrounded by nature. I was expecting something more usual and similar to many European cities, but Helsinki definitely has a special spirit. Despite the cold weather people are warm and kind. What I like the most was those infinite frozen horizons, and the possibility to walk over the lakes. The National parks of Nuuksio and Sipoo were outstanding, the experiences I must repeat again.”

Nelson shares his travel stories in Spanish on his blog Mochileros.org as well as on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

January 28, 2014

Turku’s Hostel Borea is the Hostel of the Year 2014

Hostelling International (HI) Finland has named Turku’s Hostel Borea as its Hostel of the Year for 2014. The hostel ship, opened in 2011 by Turku Touring, is moored on the west bank of the River Aurajoki near Turku Castle and the Forum Marinum Maritime Centre.

‘The staff at Hostel Borea have demonstrated enthusiasm and commitment and successfully developed the hostel’s services and facilities. The hostel has also been an active member of Finland’s HI hostel network,’ explains HI Finland’s Secretary General Aki Tuominen.

The positive feedback given by guests and the unique atmosphere of Hostel Borea, located on the historic museum ship S/S Bore that was built in 1960, were also among the aspects that impressed the jury. In 2013, Hostel Borea received the HI-Quality certificate, awarded by Hostelling International. The certificate shows customers and partners that the hostel meets strict quality standards.

Hostel Borea is Finland’s largest hostel. It has 265 beds in 130 cabins. The ship also has a lunch restaurant, café, and function room that is available for hire. The conference facilities on board are suitable for groups of 6–100 people.

Hostelling International Finland has chosen a Hostel of the Year since 2004. The award was established to recognise hostels that offer exceptional services and facilities. The winner is chosen by HI Finland’s board of directors. This year, the jury put a lot of emphasis on the initiative and vision of hostel managers and staff.

January 5, 2014

Lucky Ladies!

On our way to Laivahostel Borea, Turku   (Cycling Suomi, part 3,  august 2013)

Rain, rain, rain and stupid, boring roads. Is this the Finland we have to see all these days? We were a bit disappointed, but after a while we met the nature and the climbs again. It took a couple of hours to leave the urban  nature looks of Helsinki, but luckily we did!
It was suppose to be our first night outside/ wild camping, but we were not allowed to. Instead we had to sleep in the guest room of the very sweet old Swedish speaking couple, where we knocked on the door to ask if we could camp in their garden.
How lucky and welcome we felt: Our clothing was drying near the fire, we were able to take a nice hot shower,  we ate all together and shared a bottle (or two) of wine and had conversations in Swedish!

The double bed in the gastroom, it was very warm inside, due to the fire make addiction of the old couple.

After a beautiful day of getting lost in an almost off road tour through a nature area, it was our second day off trying to camp in the wild.
hmmm where to go???

 We arrived in a small town Nummi, and asked a man if he knew who owned  the land next to his house, because we had planned putting up our tent there.
He told us he was not good in English , but was friendly enough to advice us to go to house number two , because they speak German and would probably help us. I don't know if it was because of the German, but they were very, very, friendly.
Again we did not sleep outside, but in a summer cabin in the back of the big garden filled with fruit plants and trees. They made us a nice feisty meal on the BBQ, and later that evening we had a fire. We shared our whisky and Cuban cigars and listened to all their stories untill midnight.

My bike unfortunately broke during cleaning, but the kid of the couple ( 11 years old) was very eager to help me fix the bike, and he sort of did it. I could cycle again, but I only had 3 gears instead of the 21 I became used too. Packed with 30 kilos is sometimes a bitch without proper gears. 

Day 3 of not sleeping in a hostel. We thought we would have been out of our luck by now, but again we had a warm experience. And again we had luck! We did not camp in the middle of nowhere, we did not camp in a garden, no we were allowed to sleep in a hippy caravan!!!

A caravan painted with flowers in the middle of the property of a couple of  houses.
We could not believe it! And they made us experience our first Finnish sauna ever! A wood fire stoked sauna! We huffed and puffed and talked about the luck we have had until now. Unbelievable!

Day 4, on the road again, our last stage to Turku. With the first hill, my bike let me down and I had to accept that I had only one gear left. Single speed cycling for the last day.
Very heavy when cycling up the hill, and spinning without any resistance when going down.

The rain was there again, and it didn't stop.  We hated to cycle the road 110, but some parts we had no choice. After a small break with energy bars ( we were both very grumpy and annoyed by each other) we drove the last kilometres to the centre. Hyper of the energy the bars gave us, we couldn't stop singing. Near the centre we kept our eyes open for bike shops and spotted a couple of them.

Why does that the last part of the trip, the search for the destination always takes so awfully long?
We found the beautiful location of the Borea Hostel; an old cruise ship. But due to our impatience and the rain, we checked in grumpy, wet, cold and hungry. But the bikes were allowed to stay inside!

After a good lunch, while waiting for our cabin to be ready, we found out that we rode the total of 220 km!  We felt really proud and booked some extra days in the hostel to give us the well deserved rest ( and the bike shops were closed on Sunday, so we could not leave sooner than Monday .)

We loved the tiny cabin and while waiting for the sauna to be ready, Mars and I spend some time separately. I went online, but that only made my head more fuzzy.
Our cold and tired bodies  enjoyed the sauna ( painfully hot) and it was very nice doing our female things again (shaving, looking in the mirror, put on make- up, look in the mirror)

We dried our soaked shoes near a small radiator we got from the receptionist.
In the evening we walked along the river feeling satisfied about ourselves. We went for some good food, and beer. We went in a Italian restaurant ('Do you have a room?' Marcia asked, and we laughed about the incorrect english and therefor the wrong intrepetation). We ate risotto and met 'Karhu ' the bear beer.

Sometimes I felt a bit locked in. I always wanna open a window or something.
Still we had good writing hours and sleeping time in our cabin. We both had weird dreams, maybe because of the water that makes you in a special flow....


Sunday we went to Naantali, a beautiful city with nice wooden buildings in the old centre, there was the Moomin world, but we didn't go there. Instead we walked along the edges of the city, looking over the water and (trying to) feel the piece and space.

Turku drawing while waiting for my bike to get fixed, the smell of the French marked behind me.

On Monday we had to wait before being able to be back on the bikes again. My bike got fixed. 
Oh how eager we were to be able the cycle again, so very impatience! In the early afternoon we were on the road again. This time meeting the Archipelago trail, we heard so much about. Marcia was destined in taking a swim in the very near future. 
Archipelago and Pori here we come!!!!