Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Birches and lakes, lakes and birches

King's Room, Olavonlinna Castle

This morning I had a personal tour of Olavinlinna Castle. It was apparently some day to to celebrate the European Union, and most of the guides were escorting groups of children. The sole adult of the morning, I was snapped up by one of the guides for a walk-through of this beautiful building. Bondi was allowed to stay in a kind of horse-hitching area within the external walls. so that there was no risk of him eating any bricks inside.

Playing with Finland's smallest organ (JSB's Toccata in D minor)
Ladies' chamber ensuite: front and dowwwwwn views

Some of the interior walkways have been built in a minimalist concrete and steel style, which at first may seem at odds with the rest of the building, but which I thought worked well in providing a necessary function without attempting to mimic the original and thus mask the original elements. I read on some momument or other that this is in keeping with a "Venice Protocol" for restoring and adapting historical buildings to a contemporary purpose. I haven't been able to unearth anything more about this.

The smallest (hemmm) cannon in Finland

When I went down to collect Bondi, I found him huddled in a corner trembling. One of the staff thought he was afraid of passing school-children, but as the exact opposite is true, further questioning revealed that these children had all been popping balloons as part of the day's celebration, and these thundrous noises and reduced the poor beast to a shivering wreck.

We took a road southeastwards through a renowned spit between a chain of lakes near Punkaharju. It's supposed to have the cleanest air in Finland, but seeing as it channels a few lanes of road traffic and a railway line, I don't see how that can be remotely true. In any case, it wasn't really an inspiring drive - it undoubtedly looks much better from the air. Like a vehicular crossing of a narrow bridge, you may have to pay more attention to the road than any scenery. In this case we were only a few feet above the level of the lake so views were limited. There was a section of the road turning back north that was much more scenic. Looking back at the map, I see also that we were quite close to the Russian border.

The pictures above were taken at a fairly random spot by the road during a break in the rain.

I had received a recommendation to visit Koli National Park on Lake Pielinen. We drove through the area but it was raining so heavily that any sight-seeing or walking opportunities were dashed.

The day ended much further on, in Kajaani, which I must say didn't stake a claim as being a particularly pretty town. Finding a room for the night took a little time, the main problem being price rather than dog-friendliness. Our hotel was by the river and there a decent walking track there for Bondi.

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