Winter in Finland

After a last tantrum of unusual warm days for the season, this long autumn, child of burnt hydrocarbons, has finally given way to winter. Bright white days. Twenty five below.
Even before coming into contact with the air, my breath freezes inside my nostrils, causing an unpleasant feeling of dried up boogers. Eventually, a chance tear congeals in the corner of my eye as a rheum, or if I blink, it welds my eyelashes and I can’t then open my eyelids. Under the soles of the footwear and under the rubber of the tyres, the snow cries its loud creak of trampled grave. At night, the air humidity sublimates on the thinnest tree branches, coating them in a perfect, uniform frost layer like in the Christmas cards. At noon, after the weak warming up of a sunny day, that same frost thaws and falls from the branches in a myriad microscopic ice crystals sprinkled from above in a soft snowfall of sparkling diamond dust. The flowing water in the canal or by the wharf, that never freezes, constantly smokes a ghostly mist of boiling cauldron that vanishes into thin air only a few feet above the surface, evoking a fabulous landscape of enchanted swamps. And at dusk, the bluish white of snow and the whitish blue of sky blend together in a borderless horizon.
The lake, now lethargic, has finally silenced its otherworldly moans.


Konttori was the most celebrated nightclub in town,‭ ‬though certainly not the best, on top of overly priced:‭ ‬its long admission queue led the customers, past the bully bouncers, to a local ‬densely permeated by cigarette smoke,‭ ‬puddled with beer and carpeted in glass debris,‭ ‬with a narrow and stifling dance floor and the worst-tempered staff imaginable.‭ ‬However,‭ ‬inexplicably though it seemed to me,‭ ‬it was the chicks‭’ ‬favourite pick,‭ ‬and therefore also the guys’.‭ ‬After all,‭ ‬its reputation wasn’t altogether unjustified –‭ ‬or at least I used to get lucky there, my expectations were seldom disappointed.
That was my last night in Konttori. It was in fact my last night in town, as a few days later I was bound to leave the country for good.
‭Posted in one of the strategic corners,‭ ‬stout in hand,‭ ‬I was keeping a watch on the entrance door, checking on the  convex-gendered newcomers and on the chicks around, like a vulture in check for a prey. Continue reading “Konttori”

Porvoo, outstanding medieval town in Finland

Viejas casas del Porvoo medieval
Old houses of medieval Porvoo

In the most hidden of Porvoo‘s medieval quarter, at the heart of its ancient cobbled streets, there is a short alley on the bedrock with a few natural steps that the locals call Pirunportaat, The Stairs of the Devil, because a legend goes that he himself carved them. To one side of this scarcely frequented passage there is a tiny park on whose end, behind a thicket of bushes, a rocky platform arises. On the platform stands a wooden bench, from which a sea of roofs can be seen. Surrounded by trees and with just one entrance, this is perhaps the quietest and most secluded spot in Porvoo: away from noise, sheltered from glances and hidden from passers by; only two or three small back windows in the adjoining houses hardly overlook the place through the tree leaves. This is just where, in case you want to be alone and not disturbed.

Las Escaleras del Diablo
The Stairs of the Devil

Continue reading “Porvoo, outstanding medieval town in Finland”

Sysmä; tribulations and discoveries of a lonely biker

Sunny morning this August last day’s, that brings me a great view from the room’s balcony. Pity I’ve woken up too late and, as usual, laziness has prevented me to profit from the hotel’s breakfast. But anyway, I’m not used to eat anything right after waking up.
I wouldn’t mind to spend one more day here, in Ähtari, but I must hurry up; don’t ask me why. Is it true I’m escaping from the cold, or is it rather I’m getting tired of this trip, as absurd as my own sterile life? Whatever; let it be like that. I pack my things, pay the bill in reception and head for the parking lot. I believe this is, probably, the best moment of a motorbike ride: when you get astride on the bike’s seat, grab the handlebar, turn the engine on and, drawing back the side stand, put first gear (oh, that sober clanc noise!), release the clutch and ride on, lowering your helmet’s screen as you gain speed… Continue reading “Sysmä; tribulations and discoveries of a lonely biker”

End of the summer in Finland: Vaasa, Pietarsaari and the kesämökki

It was about midnight when, after saying farewell to the other bikers I met on the ferry, I landed in Vaasa, whose streets were–at that late hours–mostly deserted. Still it took me quite a while to find the accommodation I had booked, because it had no sign whatsoever, was in a badly lit neighbourhood with no names on the streets, and my GPS insisted in taking me to the wrong location; so, by the time I arrived my host was a bit impatient; and since he–a bit of a fusspot–was in a hurry for going to bed, spared explanations and basically demanded the payment–cash only, please–which I fulfilled promptly. On a desk he left the guest form for me to fill up later, then gave me some last–rather restrictive–instructions and left. Continue reading “End of the summer in Finland: Vaasa, Pietarsaari and the kesämökki”