The Fukuchan Diaries – Country Road to Hell

Time flies! So much work to do (translations, preparations for Japan, etc.) in the last two weeks… But now I finally could spend a few hours to continue the Finland Diary. At the end of the week, I’ll then try to publish the last part of our Scandinavian journey.

07.07 – Finnish nature hell & culture town

Finnish Breakfast

After another good night sleep in the quietness of the woods and a good Finnish breakfast, we start over for a long drive to our last hiking day. Our destination, the Helvetinjärvi national park, is about 3 hours away, near the holiday resort of Ruovesi.

Literally, the name of this national park means “Hell Lake”. The surroundings don’t look so infernal to me, it’s quite a nice place actually, with a beautiful wooden restaurant/tourist centre and a very explicit toilet sign!

WC sign

As we don’t have enough time to do the long trails, we decide to take it easy and just go for a short hiking to the main attraction of the site, the Helvetinkolu Gorge. The trail is easy, more a stroll through the woods with many tourists than real hiking, but it’s nice anyway. The gorge itself is beautiful but not as impressive as I imagined, in any case not worth 3 hours’ drive! Despite this small disappointment, we admire the view and enjoy our picnic.

Helvetinkolu Gorge
Back to the car, we take a coffee at the restaurant while observing a mother sparrow flying around feeding her chicks waiting impatiently in the nest.
Then, we drive to Ruovesi, the nearest town. First, we go to the tourist information, a beautiful ancient building who currently hosts a painting exhibit with a nice concept: two artists painted their interpretation of the same motive (mostly animals). My favourites: the elks.


After this cultural interlude, we stroll around town, visiting among other things a sort of flea market and a sad but interesting protestant church, dedicated to the crippled of the second world war. The architecture is completely different than for example in Germany, with many wooden sculptures, like the typical Crippled Beggar (see photo beneath). In the end, Ruovesi turned to be a very interesting place, almost better than the national park nearby!

Crippled beggar

16:00 – Time to drive back to the cottage. On the evening, a wonder happens: I light the fire at the first try! I’m so proud of myself! One more week here and I would become a real “survivor”!

07.08 – Back to civilization

As the weather is finally getting better, we decide to change our plans and stay a few more hours at the cottage before driving back to Helsinki. For the first time, we can stay inside without lighting the oil lamps!

13:00 – It’s time to say goodbye to the cottage. Despite crap weather the whole week, we really enjoyed our stay at this very cosy and welcoming place in the middle of nowhere! To live for a few days without all the comfort of modern life was a very instructive experience. Tap water is for exemple a real luxury, but in Europe we just take it for granted and waste it!

On the way back towards south, we don’t take the main road, but follow a very beautiful country road along wild lakes. Near the town of Lahti, we cross the gorgeous water national park of Päijänne, where you get the impression to drive through water!

Drive on the water

As we approach Helsinki, the weather lightens. After our arrival and saying goodbye to our pretty little orange Mini, we then go for a very nice walk with our hosts Anna-Leena and Sauli and their two cuddly dogs, enjoying at last a beautiful sunset!

Finnish sunset