October 29, 2014

In the footsteps of Finnish artists: an unforgettable trip to Eastern Finland - Part 3

Finn Kamilla Billiers decided to spend her holiday in Finland instead of travelling abroad. Her destination was Eastern Finland, an area renowned for its rugged landscapes. She let some of the most famous Finnish artists guide her on her journey. The trip was a journey into the heart of Finnish culture. 

This is the final part of the 3 part post. Before this Kamilla has visited the Koli National Park and North Karelian town Joensuu.

Just like granny’s house 

I travelled to Lieksa on the car ferry Pielinen. I was the only passenger on board and took in the beautiful scenery from the comfort of a rather retro-looking orange velvet couch. A tattooed deck boy came in to water the flowers on the windowsill and laughed when I asked about things to do in Lieksa. In the early evening, the small town was quiet and empty.

I walked past a small Orthodox chapel on my way to my accommodation. The Timitra Hostel is located in the Functionalist-style Timitra Castle, which was formerly occupied by a Finnish Border Guard training centre. The hostel is run by an architect who is also a keen collector of Finnish design works, and the interior and decor of the hostel reflects the personal taste of its proprietor. It is not very often that you see Artek furniture or Arabia dishes in a hostel.

Timitra Hostel in Lieksa is furnished with Finnish design.

When it was time for dinner, the atmosphere in the shared kitchen was relaxed. There was an older couple who were on their way to Pankakoski because the wife, a former pianist, once used to play a song by that name. I sipped my tea and watched steaming hot focaccia being lifted out of the oven.

On the final day of my trip, I explored the sights in and around Lieksa. The Pielinen Museum is Finland’s second-largest open-air museum, and its oldest buildings date from the 17th century. There are so many types of houses, barns, and saunas that you do not know where to look. The houses reminded me of my granny’s house, with all sorts of old tools and dishes hanging on the wall. Among other things, I saw a sledge and an old butter churn. When I reached the old shed, I took a deep breath to enjoy the lovely smell of tar.

After visiting the museum, I would have liked to see sculptor Eeva Ryynänen’s most famous creation – the Paateri timber church, with its magnificent wooden decorations. Unfortunately, it was 50 kilometres away, and I did not have a car. There is next to no public transport in that part of the country. As a keen cyclist, Inha would, no doubt, have cycled to Paateri in no time, but I had to settle for a walk to the railway station.


Read the previous articles of the 3-part post: 
1. Visiting the North Karelian town Joensuu
2. Visiting the Koli National Park

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