Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Beaches in Helsinki

There are still a lot of people who think that the weather in Finland in general and Helsinki in particular is just too cold for swimming. On the contrary. Helsinki has surprisingly warm summers and with more than 300 islands off Helsinki and a coastline of about 100 kilometres, surely the city has a lot to offer in terms of beaches.

The Finns love the beach. A favourite among locals is the Hietaniemi Beach or Hietsu as the locals say. This is the most popular beach in the city mainly because of its proximity to the centre of Helsinki. There is beach volleyball in the area and other beach amenities. Near the beach is Sibelius Park. Other beaches in proximity to Hietsu are the beaches of Munkkiniemi and Mustikkamaa. A trip to Mustikkamaa beach could be combined with a trip to Helsinki Zoo.

If you are touring Helsinki in a campervan you can park in Rastila Caravan Park and hit the beach of Rastila. Summer and winter swimming is offered in Rastila beach. Facilities include cabins, saunas, showers, children’s playground and restaurants.

Panorama of Aurinkolahti beach
Photo by kallerna, Wikimedia Commons

Suomenlinna is home to a fortress that dates back to the 18th century. There are six small islands and surrounded by rocky shores. The beaches are a mixture of rocks and sand so there really is no place to stretch and sunbathe. However, the views from those rocky shores are worth the trip.

There are beaches east of Helsinki and savvy travellers opt for these peaceful beaches with beautiful ridges. Kallithea and Laajasalo are great choices more so for those who want spacious beaches with a spectacular view of the archipelago.

West of Helsinki is the beautiful beach of Very. The beach has facilities for surfing, volleyball and golfing on top of a great sandy beach for sunbathing. The beach is located on the outskirts of Pori which is about 1.5 hours from Tampere. The beaches of Helsinki are not found in seashores alone as there are four beaches along the Vantaa River one of which is the Pikkukoski. It is interesting to note that dogs are not allowed in public beaches but there are places that do allow dogs such as in Tervasaari Island.
Hietaniemi beach
Photo by Miksa76, Wikimedia Commons

Other beaches in and around Helsinki are:
  • Aurinkolahti
  • Furuvik
  • Hevossalmi
  • Hietaranta
  • Jollas
  • Kallahden kainalo
  • Kallahdenniemi
  • Kivinokka
  • Laajasalo
  • Lauttasaari Kasinoranta
  • Lauttasaari outdoor recreation area
  • Lehtisaari
  • Malmi
  • Marjaniemi
  • Pakila
  • Pihlajasaari
  • Porvariskuninkaanpuisto
  • Pukinmäki
  • Puotila
  • Seurasaari
  • Seurasaari Uimala
  • Uunisaari
  • Tuorinniemi
Helsinki is also famous for its nudist beaches. Nudism is not uncommon in Finland because it is an accepted practice when enjoying the benefits of a sauna or steam bath. Seurasaari Nude beach offers separate beaches for men and women. The Pihlajasaari beach is near Helsinki and is a unisex nudist beach. The beach here is great for sunbathing but a bit rocky for swimming. The Yvteri beach is another unisex nudist beach. The beach here is great for swimming and sunbathing. If you feel that getting naked in a beach is too much for you to handle, there is the Yrjönkatu Swimming Hall right in the center of Helsinki where swimsuits are not required. Swim time for men and women are different.

Vanhakaupunki or Old City in Helsinki

It seems that every famous Scandinavian city has an “old town” or “old city” and the city of Helsinki is no exemption. The old city is not right in the centre of the city but is 5 kilometres north of modern day Helsinki city centre. The old city is now called Vanhakaupunki which is near the Helsinki University Biotechnology campus and a Technical Museum.

Vanhakaupunki is quite “young” at 450 years old. The buildings in the area are picture perfect with their façade and attractive colours. However, Vanhakaupunki is not Prague in terms of its old yet beautiful architectural wonders. The old city is teeming with parks and gardens that render the place quite picturesque. The River Vantaa cuts across the old town. On one side, kayak races are held in the rapids (vanhankaupunginkoski). On the other side or end, the river passes through an old dam to the sea. The view here is quite interesting. Fishing downstream is an activity that should not be missed.

Vanhankaupunginkoski in Helsinki
Photo by Oula Lehtinen, Wikimedia Commons

The name directly translates as “old city”. Don`t expect something like Prague, because there is not any of the past century buildings left here. But there are lovely parks and gardens. River Vantaa joins to sea here and there is a rapid (vanhankaupunginkoski) where kayak races are held. On the other side of area river goes to sea through old dam, making an interesting scene – and good fishing downstream.

Helsinki was founded by Swedish king Gustav Vasa in June 1550 near the mouth of the Vantaa River near the village of medieval Koskela. The city commercially competed with Tallinn in Estonia as a trading post. It was also the objective of the new city to reduce the illegal trading by peasants. Helsinki’s initial population came from Ulvila, Rauma, Tammisaari and Porvoo as ordered by the king. In 1640, Helsinki was moved to better harbour conditions in Vironniemi that slowly the old town of Vanhakaupunki was deserted.

In 1876, the Vanhakaupunki hydropower plant launched its operation. After 100 years of operation the plant was shut down. In 2000 the power plant was restored and somehow resumed operations as a “museum” power plant open for visitors in the summer. The environmental-friendly power plant is no longer operative as desired as its power is dependent on the water level of the Vantaa River.

Six miles off Vanhakaupunki is the island of Pihlajasaari. It actually consists of two small islands connected by a bridge and can only be reached by boat. In the summer a commuter boat transports visitors between Pihlajasaari and Kaivopuisto every two hours. A boat ride to Porvoo is also available.

Today, Vanhakaupunki is now an area of around 0.32 square meter west of the bay. There are about 230 residents in Vanhakaupunki. Vanhankaupungin peruspiiri circle has a larger area of 5.38 square meters and a population of more than 17,000.
A trip to the beautiful city of Vanhakaupunki is certainly worth the trouble.

Hakaniemi Market Square in Helsinki

Hakaniemi is an old unofficial district in Helsinki but is nevertheless a part of the city center. The place was historically known as a working glass district back in the days. The rising cost of daily living has risen through the years that today; Hakaniemi is now at equal to the rest of Helsinki.

What is there to see in Hakaniemi? The market square is the most dominant area of Hakaniemi. The market square is where the head offices of the Social Democratic Party of Finland and the headquarters of numerous other trade unions in Helsinki. The marketplace is colorful and lively and has the animation and aroma of Oriental food stores complete with a modest number of Asian imported products. To date there are only less than 2,500 Southeast Asians living in Helsinki and most of them are of Indian-descent. Asian food have strong taste which is a pure departure from the generally bland Finnish cooking.

The Hakaniemi market square
Photo by Jisis, Wikimedia Commons

The Hakaniemi Market Square is quite large and has a direct access to the water. There is a variety stalls in the Market Square. The stalls offer traditional treats and foods, handicrafts and other types of souvenirs. In the summer the market square teems with locals and tourists sipping coffee in open air cafés. During the winter, heated café tents are put up in the square for those who would like to seep steaming cup of coffee. Best paired with hot coffee is sugared donut or a meat pie. In the month of October, the Hakaniemi Market Square is host to the Herring Market, a traditional event in Helsinki as old as time.

If you happen to be travelling in a motorhome, what a great adventure would it be if you could go to a market hall, buy the ingredients for a spectacular meal and cook in the comforts of your motorhome.

Also at the Hakaniemi Market Square are the head office of the Left Alliance Party and the famous Helsinki Hilton. Another famous building is the Ympyrätalo designed by Heikki and Kaila Kaija Sirén. The Hakaniemi Market Hall that was designed by Karl Hård af Segerstad, sometime in 1914 is a two-storey brick building in the market square. The Market Hall is a popular place to get organic food such as vegetables and fresh fish. The atmosphere is not that of a regular supermarket but more of that old brick building with that “old time” ambiance -with its fish smell et al. However, the market hall is clean and really a delight to visit. The Market Hall has over 50 stores in its two floors where you can almost anything under the Finnish skies. There is a shoe repair shop, a book store, a handicraft shop and a high fashion store and around 28 more specialty stores. There are six cafeterias in the Market Hall and there’s one on the first floor that offers affordable traditional Finnish food.

The area is still in the middle of a gentrification process and its clientele is diverse. Nevertheless, a trip to Hakaniemi Market Square is worth the trouble.

Seurasaari Island in Helsinki

Touring Helsinki in a motorhome is an experience by itself. Sightseeing in an unharried and unhurried manner is certainly viable when travelling in a campervan. Of course you need to make a list of the places you want to visit when in Helsinki and one recommended tourist site is the famous Seurasaari Island, just a few kilometres away from the city.

Seurasaari is a small island made famous by its Open-Air Museum and its nudist beach! The island is a tranquil and quiet oasis right in the heart of Helsinki. The Open-Air Museum was founded in 1909. The intention was to represent the last 400 years of Finnish way of life by the presentation of authentic houses and cottages, manors and farmsteads. The buildings were uprooted from their original locations and were transported to Seurasaari Island’s Open-Air Museum.

A midsommer bonfire in Seurasaari
Photo by Ralf Roletschek, Wikimedia Commons

The first group of structures relocated to Seurasaari Island was the Niemelä farm in Konginkangas from Central Finland. Most of the structures came from the 18th and 19th centuries and comprised mostly of wooden farm structures. The museum owes its existence to Axel Olai Hekel, a leading Finn ethnologist and vernacular architect. His mission was to collect typical buildings from different regions and provinces of Finland. Currently, there are 85 buildings in the museum the oldest of which is the 1686 Karuna Church. Very few buildings have been added in recent years as other provinces in Finland are into the preservation of their old buildings too.

The picturesque bridge from the mainland to the Seurasaari is a “must cross” One can take the bus number 24 from Lasipalatsi then cross the wooden bridge to the island or one can take a boat from the Market Square to the island. There are guides in costumes that are all part of the Open-Air Museum.

The best time to visit Seurasaari is during the summer. Plenty of tourists and Helsinkians troop to the islands to “breathe” in the peaceful rural scene. The island is teeming with wildlife as in hares and squirrels that live in the lush forests of the island. The island is at its elements during the Midsummer when a newly-wed couple is tasked to light a huge bonfire or juhannuskokko that is built on a small islet off the island. Tourists and locals alike stand side by side as they watch the crackling bonfire. Some are on Seurasaari Island and some are on boats anchored near the bonfire.

There are trails and paths that lead to two nudist beaches - one for men and one for women. There is no common nudist beach so one can stay safe “nude” in their own beaches. It is alright to swim in the nudist beach during winter months. Of course! But bear in mind that there are no saunas in the island. Only a hole in the ice to jump in! Cold!

There are restaurants, kiosks and cafés on the island should tourist have the urge to have a snack or meal. It is also alright to bring your own snacks and water. It is also alright to bring nuts to feed the squirrels.

Kaunissaari Island

A 2-hour boat ride off Helsinki in Sipoo is the island of Kaunissaari. The small island is only about 2 kilometers long and 800 meters wide. The island is a veritable sauna paradise as a trip to Kaunissaari is included in majority of sauna tours. If one wishes a great “first” time sauna experience inclusive of a plunge into a pool of cold water, a Kaunissaari trip is a must. Managed by the local Recreational Park, the sauna facilities were first established in 1959. The park covers about 100 hectares of land and around 790 hectares of water.

Kaunissaari literally means beautiful island, and indeed the name is justifiable. The quaint fishermen‘s village affords a view of the quiet and peaceful lives of its inhabitants as exemplified by their buildings and way of life. The island’s landscape of rocky shore is unique and has remained intact and unchanged for centuries. The island is sometimes referred to as the gem of the Eastern Gulf of Finland. Distinctly native to the islands are the fenced-in plots, boat sheds, landing stages, seaside storehouses and numerous gardens.

Rocky shore of Kaunissaari island
Photo by Pöllö, Wikimedia Commons

The Kaunissaari Island can be reached by boat from Kotka (Sapokka), from Pyhtää and from Vuosaari. The boat ride is from 1 to 2 hours. If you are touring Helsinki in a campervan, park your motorhome at any of the 7 motorhome parks in and around Helsinki and hop on a boat ride to Kaunissaari.

The beaches and rocky shores of Kaunissaari offer a wide range of activities for guests. For one, the beautiful sights in the islands serve as great photographic subjects. The water surrounding the island offer great fishing opportunities. Locals and international tourists are attracted by the possibility of a great catch. Fishing is allowed without the need for permits. The island also affords visitors the opportunity to camp or trek on the nature trails on the island.

The best time to take a tour of the island is during the summer months. There are boats at Sapokka Harbour right in front of the Maretarium Aquarium that ferry visitors to Kaunissaari 2 to 3 times a day. Starting in the middle of May and ending on mid September, boat rides to Kaunissaari from Vuosaari are available too.

The island of Kaunissaari is about 22 kilometers off the shores of Helsinki. The wind could suddenly blow without warning even on a warm summer day so it is best to take a wind breaker or warm jackets when going to the islands.

There are restaurants and cafés in the island. Note that the salmon pastries sold in one of the food shops is quite delicious and should be tasted. There are freshly smoked salmon sold at storehouses near the seashore. If you wish to know more about the island’s history visit the museum. A quiet and unhurried stroll in the quiet village is akin to a stroll in a fairy tale setting of charming wooden houses on wooded trails against a backdrop of the blue sea.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Parks in Helsinki

Helsinki’s geography deems this small country into a green and blue area. If you are not looking out into the blue sea, you are looking out into a green patch. Helsinki could be the “freshest” city in the world for 1/3 of its area is composed of parks. It has been said that one is never far from a park in the city.

Central Park in Helsinki is part of city’s history and townscape. Its area is around 10 square kilometers stretching from to the border of Helsinki and Vantaa in the north and Töölönlahti Bay in the south. The park is not a means to showcase beautiful flower gardens but is mostly woodland with gravel paths. The northernmost part of the park called the Paloheina forest is the city’s foremost centre for outdoor activities.

Central Park, Maunula outdoor hut with cafe
Photo by Paju, Wikimedia Commons

Kaisaniemen Puisto (Kaisaniemi Park) is 100 years and has been planned around a centrally located lake where most of the gardens are found. The park is famous for its beautiful landscape as aside from the plants and blooms in the park are various statues that complement the blooms and other plants. A coffee shop is situated at the park. The park is located along Kaisaniemi. The park is open every day. Admission is free.

Kasvitieteellinen Puutarha or the University Botanical Gardens is one of the most popular garden parks in Helsinki. The garden park is around 200 years old and is currently home to hundreds of botanical species showcased in flowerbeds. What make the botanical garden more attractive are the historic glasshouses. A gallery is situated between the small and large glasshouses and this is mainly used for short-term nature-related exhibitions. The park is open from 7am to 8pm from May to September and from 7am to 5 pm from October to April. Admission is free except for the glasshouses where €3 to €6 tickets are required. Located at 44 Unioninkatu.

Kaupungin Talvipuutarha (City Winter Gardens is located in 1 Hammarskjöldintie, Helsinki. Founded in 1893, the exotic winter garden has over 200 species of plants. Palm trees, camellas and Norfolk Island pines are found in the palm room. The cactus room has an explosion of different kinds of cacti on display. Christmas and Easter flowers bloom in time and the winter garden is never in need or want of flowering and towering plants the whole year. The rose garden outside is in full bloom during autumn and summer. The garden park is open Monday to Saturday from 12pm-3pm and on Sundays from 12 pm to 4pm. Admission is free.

Meilahden Arboretum is within walking distance of the Seurasaari Open-Air Museum and quite close to central Helsinki. As the name implies, the park houses some of the most impressive groupings of mature Finnish shrubs and trees. Bulbs and roses peak during the summer months. Location is at 2-3 Meilahdentie. Admission is free.

If would be great to rent a campervan and drive to other nature parks in Helsinki. Feeling a bit adventurous? Here are some nature parks that are worth a visit.

  • Nuuksion Kansallispuisto (Nuuksio National Park) in Nuuksio
  • Uutelan Luontopolku Park in Vuosaari
  • Kaivopuisto Park
  • Sibelius Park
  • Töölönlahti Bay

Remember to “dress” for a walk in the park!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Helsinki Festival

The 2011 Helsinki Festival was held from August 19 to September 4. There were some 184,000 guests who attended Finland’s largest cultural event. The festival is held on annual basis during summer. The mission of the festival is to make “arts” accessible to all. And a great way to see this festival is via a Helsinki Campervan!

What has the Helsinki Festival has to offer? For one, the festival serves as a venue for artists in different artistic disciplines. Second, the festival provides enthusiastic and artistically inclined guests the chance to immerse themselves in cultural and artistic performances in music, theatre, art exhibitions, films, dance, children’s programs and even the circus. Since its beginnings in 1968, the Festival has had a string of internationally renowned artists.

One of the most popular events is the Night of the Arts or Taiteiden yö). This is the time when the city is open for anyone who wants to perform in the streets and in the parks. If you are touring Helsinki in a motorhome, how thrilling it would be to just hook-up in one of the motorhome parks in the city and join the throng of “artists” performing city-wide.

The Helsinki Festival is an off-shoot of Sibelius Viikot (Sibelius Week) which was a classical music festival than ran from 1951 to 1965. In 1968, the city of Helsinki established the Helsinki Festival as a broader venue for artistic presentation and performances. Many of the main concerts are held in the Huvila Festival tent built annually in one of the parks in the city of Helsinki. Other performances are held at the Korjaamo Culture Factory in Töölö.

The Helsinki Festival is presently handled by the Board Members of the Helsinki Week Foundation. The board members are natives of Helsinki and elected to seat as members for two years. Artists are personally invited by the board to perform which means one need not “apply” to be part of the line up.

The next Helsinki Festival is set on August 17, 2012 up to September 2, 2012. If you are interested in watching some of the presentations, the organizers release the festival’s program sometime in April. The Festival’s program guide is also published at about this time. The events are grouped by genre but the program does include an alphabetized and by-date listings. You can get a copy of the program from libraries in Helsinki, from Lippupalvelu outlets, STOA, Kanneltalo and Malmitalo. You can get copies too from cafés in the city. You can also get a copy by mail if you send the organizers an email to join their mailing list.

Tickets for the events at the Festival are on sale starting May 5 at Lippupalvelu. You can also buy tickets online. Discounts are available for certain groups such as students, senior citizens, those under 18, servicemen, the unemployed and those employed in the cultural sector. It is best to bring an ID just in case you are asked to prove your eligibility. In case a show is cancelled, refunds are in order. In case you were not able to buy tickets prior to the event, you can still buy tickets in August.

The Fortress of Suomenlinna (Finland)

The Fortress of Suomenlinna (Fortress of Finland) is located on a group of islands off Helsinki. The islands are interconnected by bridges and are only accessible from Helsinki by boat. Suomenlinna is one of the largest maritime fortifications in the world and the fortress is a historical monument of Helsinki that played a crucial role for its growth and wealth.

The Fortress was built in 1748 by Sweden under the supervision of Augustin Ehrensvärd (1710-72), a royal artillery officer. The fortress was built strategically at the entrance of Helsinki harbour and was and still is a fine example of European military architecture of that era. Named originally as Sveaborg (Swedish Fortress), the plan was to build fortifications on the group of islands near Helsinki as protection for unwanted approaches on Helsinki particularly the Russians.

Sveaborg fell in 1808 under the Russians and Swedish rule was edged out. The fort was renamed Viapori and served the Russian navy. In 1918, Finland became independent from Russian domination. Viapori was finally renamed Suomenlinna which now consists of well-preserved 190 buildings within a collective 6 km of walls.

Approach to Suomenlinna is through a ferry ride from Helsinki. There is no lack of ferries going in and out of the city as it is primarily a port city. If you are travelling through Helsinki in a campervan, park at any of the seven motorhome parks in the city and hop on a ferry to get to Suomenlinna.

The Fort gets an average of 700,000 visitors a year. An aerial tour of the Fort and its connecting islands shows the Finnish Naval Academy, the main and service piers, the open prison, the Vesikko submarine, King’s gate, the Kustaanmiekka walls and its sandbanks and the church.

Augustin Ehrensvärd's grave at Suomenlinna
Photo by MoRsE, Wikimedia Commons

The Finnish customs have an office on the islands. An open prison is also on the islands and most of the repairs to the buildings, ramparts and walls are carried out by the convicts. No worries though when visiting Suomenlinna as the open-prison is not included in the tour. The old buildings are still used for work spaces, housing and guests’ facilities. Maintenance facilities are on the islands too as repairs in Suomenlinna is an ongoing process.

Suomenlinna was built on rocky land that was totally treeless and plant-less. The lime that leached from the old structures made the rocky land fertile. Today the islands are teeming with plants, flowers; trees that help beautify and secure the biodiversity of the islands.

Suomenlinna is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are museums, cafés, restaurants, conference and banquet halls, hostel, library, grocery store, arts and crafts shop located at the Fortress. There is even a brewery and toy museum on the islands. The visitors’ centre includes the Bubbling Under, the Underwater Cultural Heritage at Suomenlinna, the Tourist Information, the Suomenlinna Museum, the Suomenlinna Experience widescreen show and a Guided Tour of the complex. Most of the facilities open at 10:30 am at close at 4:00 pm. Entry fees vary from €3 to €8.

Kayaking in Helsinki

Kayaking is a very popular outdoor activity in Helsinki. The city after all is surrounded by bodies of water and bays, lakes and rivers abound in the city. Kayaking is mostly done in the summer months when kayaking centers open up their shops in late May or early June up to the end of September.

There are various ways to go kayaking in Helsinki. You could choose to settle for guided kayaking trip in and out bay of Helsinki. If you and your family are touring Helsinki in a campervan you can contact any paddling center in Helsinki, make arrangements and they would gladly pick you up at the pier and take at the paddling centre. You will then be fitted with kayaks, paddles and paddling skirts. Expect a general orientation talk and quick kayaking lessons and safety/rescue measures before setting out. There are paddling centers that offer trial “paddling” first before letting their guests sign up for a kayaking adventure.

Most of these tours have guides that entertain and inform guests with the history of the islands they visit. A light lunch of sandwiches, cookies and drinks is included with the €59 per head rent. This type of kayaking tour usually takes 2.5 to 3 hours. It could take more should the infamous Helsinki wind starts to blow. It is almost always windy in Helsinki and no one can really predict when it’s coming.

If you are not new in kayaking, you can always take a paddling tour with your friends and family sans a tour guide. You can drop by a paddling center and rent kayaks. Ask for recommendations from the owner as to which islands to paddle to. Do not forget to ask for a map and compass or GPS should you venture without a guide. Better yet, bring your mobile phone so you can call the owner of the rentals should anything goes wrong.

Another type of kayaking is more of a combination kayaking and camping event. You and a friend could drop by any paddling center and with the help of professional guides plan and map out your trip. Make sure though that you are not a total newbie as island hopping on a kayak and camping out at night are not for total neophytes unless they have skilled guides with them.

If you are into this type of adventure make sure you have the necessary equipment for camping. Do you have an easy-to-manage tent? What about earth matting and sleeping bags? Pack enough food for the duration of the trip. Do not depend on what you could fish for food. Bring food to grill and instant noodles and anything that does not easily spoil. Instant coffee or tea will do during this kind of trip. Pack cutlery, paper plates, mugs and portable burner, foil, matches, lighter, toilet paper, wet wipes, first aid kid and an axe.

Whether you opt for a 30-hour or a 2-day/night kayaking trip, the experience will truly revive your senses.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Helsinki Zoo Day Trip

A visit to Helsinki is a must when in Scandinavia. The city is the capital of Finland and is the major financial, political, educational and cultural centre of Finland. Helsinki is stretched across peninsulas, some islands and bays. Some of the major islands are Lauttasaari, Seurasaari and Korkeasaari. There are different sights and sounds in Helsinki and one of the more popular year-round destinations is the Helsinki Zoo in the island of Korkeasaari.

The Helsinki Zoo was founded in 1889 and is one of the oldest zoos in the whole world. The zoo began as a place for exotic birds and animals brought home by expeditioners and Russian sailors. The island became a home for animals and birds from the Arctic and the Amazon.

Snowy Owl at Helsinki Zoo
Photo by Mp, Wikimedia Commons

The zoo is situated on a 22-hectare stony island. Korkeasaari is linked to the mainland by a bridge. Access to Helsinki Zoo via the bridge is all year round while water buses and ferry from Hakaniemi and Kauppatori are available during the summer months. It is possible to take a leisurely tour of Helsinki in a motorhome, “hook-up” in one of the 7 campsites around the city and set up as a “base” for sightseeing.

There are some 150 animal species and around 1,000 plant species in the zoo. There are animals representing the continents of Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, South America and Africa. It is the mission of the zoo to protect the diversity of animals it houses. Helsinki Zoo has the thrust to raise endangered species. It also has the tenacity to participate in the protection of the natural habitats of varied animal species.

Part of Asia is connected to Europe so some animals from both continents have similarities. Some of the “Asians” are the lion, Armur leopard and tiger, snow leopard, panda, manul, camel, kulan, otter, peacock and mink. Makhors and takins are also comfortably lodged in the island zoo.

The African section does not have the usual African safari animals mainly because it is quite tasking to keep large mammals from Africa because of Finland’s temperature. At any rate the African mammals would have to be housed indoors during the winter months so it is better to just not acquire them for the zoo. Some of the Africans are the Egyptian tortoise, short-eared elephant shrew and the dwarf mongoose.

The bear is Finland’s national animal. Aside from the bear are wetland birds and varied owls that are natives to Europe. Some of the animals are wolverine, reindeer, lesser white-fronted goose, European otter and mink and Visent.
North America is represented by red deer, skunk and mountain goat. Animals such as pine marten and rabbit, lynx and wolverine are not exactly the same as the one found in Helsinki.

Helsinki zoo is full of white-faced monkey, Brasilian aguoti, emperor tamarin, Goeldi’s monkeys, blue poison arrow frog and blue throated macaw which are all natives of South America.

Australia is represented by the emu and red wallaby. As in most zoos, the animals at Helsinki zoo are not tamed or domesticated.

The zoo is open the whole year with a regular opening hour of 10 am to 4 pm and extending up to 8pm in the summer months. Entry fee is from 7 € to 10 €.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Porvoo Campground Kokonniemi for Motorhomes

Located 1 hour away from the city of Helsinki, Porvoo campground has 40 Camper spaces with electricity. It has a recreational center, sauna and swimming pool and is walking distance to the Porvoo city centre.

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Porvoo Reflections by Origine1 Flickr Creative Commons:

Campground Oittaa for Caravans

Just 20 minutes from Helsinki, Oittaa Campground offers plenty for the RV traveller. Located at beautiful Lake Bodom, it offers plenty for the active outdoorsman including a nearby recreational centre, saunas and jogging paths.

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streetview of Campground Oittaa

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Photo by Katri Niemi Flickr Creative Commons: Espoo Sunset

Rastila Campground Helsinki

If you are looking to rent a motorhome in Helsinki - check out Rastila Camping. The offer 165 Caravan spaces with electricity. This campground is conveniently located only 12 Kilometers from the city centre and 22 kilometers. Website.

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This image was taken by naystin and is close to Rastila Campground: