Day 57: Bears, Rapids, Lakes and a significant walk

57:  A wildlife kind’a day

J ran in the am early-ish and then we visited the bear et al establishment at Euro10 each – well worth it as it happened.  We saw the brown bears at 1 metre distance (behind fences) – the big ones weigh 500 kgs!  7 times as much as your average adults… they can run at 60 km per hour over short distances – James can only dream of 15 km per hour – but he weighs 70 kgs and is not very brown…yet.  Or hairy, thankfully!  We also saw wolves, red rox, lynxes and – guess what?  Rheindeer with babies…   K had already seen three yesterday grazing along the road.  The owner of the rescue centre had been involved in some kind of research and then when it ended kept the orphan bears and raised them.  They see him as ‘Father’ and he takes them for walks in the woods. And one, apparently, goes with him in his fishing boat.  I asked the tour guide – you don’t wander round on your own (a guide bribes the animals to come close with fruit and honey) about going in the pen with the wolves. Oh no!  Unless , you are the owner – he can.  He really must be some animal magician / whisperer.  This was really special.  It is not a zoo, wedded to scientific inter-zoo breeding programs and conservation.  This is a small holding where the rescue animals are cared for and loved.  The centre is not glossy or gimmicky – it is just about the animals.


















 As well as fruit, they love ice cream. Well who wouldn’t! I asked about dental hygiene … apparently the frozen reindeer meat on the bone takes care of it.


Coming on for a kiss








Red fox:  apparently loads in the wild, so the centre refuse to take more

Red fox: apparently loads in the wild, so the centre refuse to take more



About 30% wolf and 70% dog (not sure if wild dog).  I asked if they were able to be trained, but got a definitely NO reply

About 30% wolf and 70% dog (not sure if wild dog). I asked if they were able to be trained, but got a definitely NO reply

Reindeer.  They loose their antler at the end of winter

Reindeer. They loose their antler at the end of winter

Aah ... little baby with an itch!

Aah … little baby with an itch!

Thence to the Oulanka National Park, specifically Juuma, for a truly memorable hike over 12 km known as the Little Bear Ring, via rope bridges, rapids and gorges.  Indiana Jones and Mrs Jones.  But no swinging … on ropes of otherwise!  Guide book described it as one of the most scenic Finnish walks.  Both of us agreed that this is one of, if not THE, most interesting and scenic walks we have ever done.  Pix can speak for themselves – sorry there are so many, but it was truly lovely.  Had taken only the little Canon instamatic, but still pleased with the quality.  Do check out the water reflections – superb.


Most of Scandinavia encourages ‘get back to nature’ with well supplied campsites in National Parks. J rekindled one of last night’s fires. I think he hoped the smoke would deter the mossies!


Using Maddy’s instant pic camera, we explored the settings and found Fish Eye!


Another Fish Eye setting


At one point we tromped up 256 steps. The sign told us that this was the equivalent to a 13 story building and we did it in one go!


9 metre drop. You can boat hire and ride the rapids here

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And Maddy sent me pix of our pottery painting efforts that have now been glazed and fired – look surprisingly OK for a couple of non arty types.

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What a fabulous couple of days!  And the sun came out for us whenever we stopped to look at anything!


Day 56: Moving Monuments

56:  Saturday … Moving and moving monuments

Last night we thought we had found another lovely waterside pitch.  Just look at these pix of our pitch and the third  photo of the setting sun on the water at after 100 p.m.  Gorgeous.




















However, one tramp rummaging through our rubbish, several boy racers on screaming mopeds either side of Chardonnay and what looked like a drug deal … and we decided to go with our instincts and vacate.  It was 11.00 but this time, but thankfully it was one of K’s dry nights so she could drive.  We moved to the Bomba House not far away … next door to the Spanish we had seen several times  yesterday.  Not stalking them, honest!

In the morning, after our exercise regime, we wandered around the Bomba House restaurant.  it is a large structure made of logs, a reconstruction of a house that was made after the owner had to vacate  the russian part of Karelia and made in Karelian style.  K’s Nork along the lake had been more interesting as it was through the complex of Karelian style houses and a lot of summer houses.  Have you ever come across public carpet washing facilities?  Well, in Finland they exist and are readily available.  Thanks to reading some of Matti’s blog, I knew what this was.














Modern Karelian architectural interpretation

Modern Karelian architectural interpretation


Carpet washing facilities

Carpet washing facilities

Can’t quite remember why J was stuck here, but took a pic anyway!


We drove then to the museum and memorial to the Winter War 1939-40.  The Spanish motorhome was there also!  This was another Matti suggestion.  Understandably, when taught history at school, one is taught about how WWII affects Britain, but this was really interesting and moving.  Stalin and Hilter met up, carved up Europe deciding who should have what and agreeing not to fight each other.  Russia was to have Finland and unannounced bombed Helsinki.  They mobilised massive battalions of troops and attacked northern Finland.  No country supported Finland, not even other Scandinavian countries.  The Finns were outnumbered 100 to 1 – they fought a guerrilla war – attacking on skis with only light weaponry – after 105 days, the Russians retreated leaving thousands of their troops dead in the snow. The museum and monument are at the end of the Raate road which saw some of the heaviest fighting.  The Finns captured a lot of armaments including 43 tanks. However, in the subsequent Treaty of Moscow, they were forced to concede 10% of their territory. They just did not have the man power for sustained conflict.  During the War of Continuation, they had to get the Germans out of their territory, who had troops positioned in case of a Russian affront. At the end of the war, Finland lost some of its land in Karelia to Russia … only 70 years ago … and had to pay massive war reparations to Russia as they had attacked first – Not!




















The field of stones represents the dead and affected by the Winter War.  The impressive sculpture of 105 bells refers to the 105 days of the war …..‘the absurdity of war’.  Have we learned ? Think Ukraine today…..












A Nearby church – modern as all the local villages had been raised to the ground. Unusual bell tower and war graves.

Back on the main road, we stopped off at the Silent People art installation.  It was so fitting after the War memorial.  1000 figures standing erect and facing the some way.  Heads made of peat and grass clods.  Clothes change biannually through donations.  Silent, except for the occasional passing car.  Quite erie walking amongst these semi human forms.













Spot the imposter!




















ff to south of Kussamo to park overnight in the car park of the Predator House – bears, etc in the wild – for the morning.  Watched two Finish girls (age 5 and 10) play horsey and gallop around, feeding their horses.  Lovely.