Posts

This is what Wine in the Woods is like – The new wine tasting experience in Helsinki coming up next summer!

For wine enthusiasts the combination of food and wine is familiar. But is there even more to explore in the tastes of wines combining with other scents? That question Antti Huttunen, the founder of Finnish outdoor media Retkipaikka and co-creator of Back to Nature tv-series, wanted to examine more. He wanted to bring together two themes that are important to him: nature and wines. This is where the idea of a forest wine bar came from!

Even only 15 minutes in nature can make you feel relaxed.

Wine in the Woods starts in the Northern Gate of Nuuksio, an area right next to Nuuksio National Park. Nuuksio is the closest national park to the capital of Finland, Helsinki. It is easy to access even by local transport and it takes only around 45 minutes to jump from the busy metropolitan city to the calming nature and forests.

Karoliina Kaski, the guide of Wine in the Woods, welcomes our group in a lovely setting surrounded by countryside. We take a small walk around the historical buildings and take a look of the old stone stairs that once lead to the mansion of this area.

As we go deeper into the forest we start to connect our scents with the nature. Living in a busy city environment can make us nervous and disturb our minds, but nature can offer the opposite. It has been studied that only 15 minutes spent in nature can actually lower your blood pressure.

We take time for each sense to get attuned with the nature. How does the forest look like? What sounds do we hear, or, when we close our eyes, how does a small rock feel in our hands? It is incredible how strong our sense of touch will become if we close our vision and hearing!

After approximately 15 minutes we will enter deeper into the woods and will pass a wooden sign which tells us that we are now entering the nature’s own dining area: Wine in the Woods. We see the area with wooden benches with paddings, and sommalier Tero Pullinen, who welcomes everybody.

As a welcoming drink we get a glass of sparkling wine, which is also to calibrate our taste buds for the actual products of the wine tasting. There are five different red wines to taste and examine. Tero tells us about the wines and how they are connected with the nature.

Wines and Finnish woods have actually more in common that one would think at first! They both are living entireties and have many different layers. They are at constant change and when they meet each other you can find completely new sides from both wines and nature.

“The wines have a chance to return to nature, from where they have come, where everything is equal and where instead of strict restraint and control, constant change is present and embraced.”

We talk about our experiences and observations about the wines and nature. The atmosphere is comfortable and there is room for discussion. Even if one had no previous experience with wines or wine tastings, this nature’s surroundings will make this experience effortless.

The experience in nature with wines takes two hours. After the tasting the program itself is over, and everyone can choose how to continue their day. Maybe take a small hike in the National Park? Or, it is also possible to enjoy a forest themed menu, if one has reserved it in advance.

Wine in the Woods is a wine bar in the middle of forest and Antti explains how these several chosen spots in nature had to be presented to the authority in order to ask permission to serve spirits. In Finland the alcohol law is strict and you will need a permission for every place, restaurant or event that serves alcohol. Happily ever after the Wine in the Woods wine tasting got its permission and the next summers luxury outdoor experience is ready to happen!

Antti is happy for the positive feedback given by the test audience after the pilot-tasting. The Wine in the Woods experience is recommended for everyone who loves nature and wines. It is also a great opportunity if one wants to enjoy the nature but not necessarily in an exercising way.

“The taste and smell of a wine can take me into the middle of the forest, to some particular spots: under the shade of spruce branches, onto the warmth of the rocks, or amongst the lush foliage of the birch. I find this fascinating and want to give others the chance to experience the same – and a little more. I can’t wait to see what kind of experience we can offer you. Welcome!” -Antti Huttunen

If you are a nature lover who enjoys the tastes of wines or you want to experience something completely new, check out the web store here where you can reserve your place at the Wine in the Woods experience next summer! It is also available for group booking or you can purchase a Wine in the Woods giftcard!

Torvisen maja – sanctuary for tired skiers in Luosto since 1957

On the north side of Luosto fell there is the cutest little coffee house, Torvisen maja. I highly recommend visiting the cafe, not only for its delicious freshly baked doughnuts and pies but also for the incredible atmosphere, oozing authenticity and olden days. 

torvismaja1

You can reach Torvisen maja by car, skis, bike, feet, you choose.

How to get there?

I ended up visiting Torvisen maja as a pit stop on my skiing trip in December. The cross-country skiing tracks around Luosto are fabulous and versatile, by the way. Luosto fell is part of Pyhä-Luosto National Park in eastern Lapland. If travelling from abroad, the nearest airport is Rovaniemi. There are busses from Rovaniemi, as well as from other directions. As for me, I left my cabin with skis 6 km away, skied pass Luosto “centre” and towards the north side of the largest fell. There, you cannot miss the place.

torvisenmaja3

The heart of the cafe is the fireplace. Maria, the hostess, says people love to watch the fire for ages.

Resting haven for 60 years

At doorstep you already start feeling it. The warmth of the fireplace and dim light of candles embrace you. There are colourful rugs as tablecloths and traditional decorations from the olden days. This cafe has served tired and hungry skiers and wanderers since 1957!

torvisenmaja6

This is the very first guest book from 1957. A freely translated quote from a guest: “Possibly this hut brings people one step closer to nature, of which we have become estranged with.” That was 60 years ago, what about now?

Torvisen maja was founded by Torvinen village association as a wilderness hostel. One could stop here on a hiking or skiing trip and get a cosy sleeping space from upstairs, for a small fee. During the decades the cottage has served also as an open wilderness hut, and for the past 30 years actively as a cafe.

And imagine, there is still no electricity nor running water. But just that is a big part of the charm.

tosrvisenmaja4

Exceptional atmosphere and versatile menu

Today the cafe keepers are Maria Heikkilä and Toni Vaarala. They are very open and welcoming to all visitors from near and far, they chat with customers and tell stories about the cottage’s past. Meanwhile there is a fresh pot of coffee brewing and dough waiting to be turned into doughnut, or “munkki” as we say, on gas stove. Positive feedback from customers has been nearly overwhelming (we Finns do not accept compliments easily).

Indeed, a senior skier sipping coffee in the next table states Torvisen maja is the most atmospheric cafe he has ever visited, and he has been to many.

torvisenmaja5

Decorations are old and traditional. I love the rugs as tablecloths.

Maria and Toni emphasise they have a menu that is different every day but always contains fresh and home made goods.

I had a hard time deciding on my order as this was the Menu du Jour:

– reindeer-lingonberry pie

– lingonberry-fudge pie

– warm doughnuts, “munkki”

– pancakes (savoury and sweet)

– salmon sandwich

– tasting plate including reindeer salami, bear paté, reindeer liver, salmon and whitefish roe

torvisenmaja7

In the end I had to go with traditional munkki and coffee, and boy was it delicious! I could ski here every day just for the munkki.

Torvisen maja is open from Autumn until late spring, however long there is snow to be skied. The busiest time for the cafe is from February skiing holidays onwards until Easter.

Torvisen maja on the map

Repovesi National Park

 

Repovesi is one of the most beautiful and visited national parks in Finland. High hills and sightseening towers offers beautiful views to the lakes and over 50 km trails calling hikers . Last year Repovesi had 104.300 visitors.

1910 Kymi-Yhtiöt took the Repovesi area under the forestry use. The is still lots of  history left from timber floating with floating channels. 2003 UPM-Kymmene gave most of the area to the future national park and also suggested area for griffin preserve.

15 sqkm Repovesi got national park status in 2003. It has many lean-to’s, huts (also rented), camping areas and fire places. Most of the trails been used so much that tree roots makes trails a bit difficult to walk. Also terrain has steep trails, but when you get top of the hill, you will see awesome views.

Welcoming gate has lot's of information about the park

Welcoming gate has lot’s of information about the park

My friend Niko asked me to go there with him for 2 days and since i don’t have nothing to do, we made a plan. I drove to Lahti on Friday morning and first i went to see my old friend. Around 3.30pm i parked my car to company’s yard where Niko works. My car isn’t in good shape and it would be stupid to drive there with 2 cars since we would drive the same road to get there….

We had dinner first on our way and finally arrived to the Lapinsalmi (Lapland strait) parking. Seems there was already quite a few people, lot’s of cars parked. There is also a small kiosk, where you can buy snacks. Also some warm food is available.

DSCF8171

Lapinsalmi bridge

Lapinsalmi bridge

Took only few minutes to walk 600m to the Repovesi’s well known Lapinsalmi suspension bridge which have been build in 1987. It is 50 meters long and hangs at 10 meter hight.

It has great views to the lake and felt really sturdy too. Sign said to keep 10m distance to each other in the bridge.

DSCF8189

DSCF8186We took some photos and were just about continue….my friend remembered that he forgot to lock his car’s doors… so i waited him 15 mins. And were they lock? Yes they were haha! Oh well, 15 mins is nothing. I took some photos while waiting. Saw some canoeing and wave hello to them.

Seems there was lot’s of foreigners here too, some spoke french, some Russians….we met later one guy who came from Australia.

DSCF8191

Repovesi trails were mainly easy to walk. We saw wide worn out trails, so that tells how popular this place is. First we were heading to the Katajavuori (Juniper mountain). Unfortunately, to get in top of the hill, we have to climb really steep and long stairs. Not easy for 130 kg (275 lb) guy with 15 kg backpack….

DSCF8195

DSCF8202My goodness, they were steeper than i expected. Well, up there waits great views so here we go then….! On our way up i stopped in the middle and those big rocky hills looked so beautiful in the sunlight. Long trees looked like they were trying to reach in the clouds!

DSCF8205

DSCF8206It was a beautiful view from the top! And stairs weren’t so bad after all, maybe i have got some stamina from my daily walk haha!
We were thinking that maybe we should stay here this night, since there was many perfect places for our hammocks…but one other friend was waiting us at the Katajajärvi campfire, so we took some photos and found the trail nearby to get going on.

DSCF8212

DSCF8219Rest of the trail for today was quite easy to walk and took around 20 mins to walk Katajajärvi’s campfire place. Our friend Arto was waiting us there since 6 pm. Now it was 8.30pm.

After chatting, we started to look places for our hammocks. It was quite rocky place, so let’s see what we will find.

DSCF8247

We didn’t want to hang ourselves (i just love to say that…) far away from the fireplace, so this was the place for us…as you can see, it wasn’t so easy to set these up hahah! Took over an hour to get all done. We both have Warbonnet XLC with Super Fly’s.

DSCF8229

DSCF8231Rest of the evening we took some photos, had a chat and made some good food. We were pretty beat up, it’s been long day. Specially for Niko, since he was working today. Moon was shining quite bright and some stars in the sky made me happy.  We went to sleep around midnight.

Waking up 7am, so we could have quick breakfast and walk to the Määkijä camp, before it will start to rain heavily.

Coffee wakes up soon

Coffee wakes up soon

In the morning Arto complain that he feelt cold during the night. He seems haven’t use hammocks for long time and since summer have been quite warm, only the sleeping bag seems to be enough for him. But it went low as +10°C during the night so we found out that he isn’t so experienced hammock user and didn’t have any protection under him.

So that meant that he didn’t want to risk to get sick and decided to leave today. So our trails separated soon. Sad thing, but understandable.

DSCF8262

DSCF8267We had only 2 km to the Määkijä camp. On our way we saw great rocky hills and beautiful forests. We heard that there might be Viper snakes on the rocky trail, so we needed to be careful. But didn’t saw nothing. Better that way.

Määkijä camping was a beautiful place. It has toilets, fireplace, woodshed, small pier and also rented hut.

We wanted to make a camp with our hammocks. Both hammocks towards each outher and tarps tied together. There was a perfect place, but…..also really heavy wind which got stronger later. So after we trying to get tarps set up, we gave up because of wind.

We came back same trail to the Kapiavesi (narrow water) which had some cover for the wind. We decided to check the Lapinsalmi camp too, where we had lunch.

Unfortunately here was too windy too and because it was near the suspension bridge, place was really crowded. So back to he Kapiavesi, where we gave up the idea to make a camp with our hammocks.

It started to rain a bit, but we had only 500 meters to walk. So we set our hammocks fast to the porch mode and had some rest. Wind wasn’t heavy here so we could relax.

IMG_20160813_165341

DSCF8276

It was only 1 pm, when we got all set up. And rain continued until 9 pm, when the wind also died. So we just listen music, had a chat, tried to kill one damn annoying bee (manage to do it next morning) and made some dinner. I had Chili Con Carne ( i took the spicy instead of mild…huh) and Niko had some Blå Band pasta.

The worker bees are homeless this time of year, so they tried to get any food. They are really aggressive now and trying to fly in the face too. Stings easily…

DSCF8278

After 9 pm we finally got chance to build a fire. Had some cheese sausages with us. Later i heard sudden noise from the woodshed and there was one guy collecting firewood. They had a tent about 100 meters away. Guy was really drunk and it was dark already… he dropped some wood immediately because he could walk straight….

IMG_20160814_083017

Night wasn’t bad at all, it was quite warm actually! I woke up around 7 am because some Wagtails (fin Västäräkki) made lot’s of noise and they flew around the hammocks. Also the red-throat divers (fin Kaakkuri) were noisy in the morning. Flying around the lake with recognizable Kaa-Kaa-Kaa sound. Sometimes it sounded like laughing.

Later when we were having breakfast, Woodpecker (fin Palokärki) paid a visit nearby. Black bird with small red hat!

Happy hikers

Happy hikers

Took some time to pack our stuff, because i took lot’s of photos from my Warbonnet. Going to write a review to the Finnish outdoor site Retkipaikka.fi.

As you can see, also Niko’s Super Fly seems to be happy to our trip!:)

DSCF8358

Since it won’t be raining until 1 pm, we wanted to try the Fox Ferry! Cable ferry so we need to pull ourselves to the other side of the lake. 2 km hike to there and only 600 meters to Nikos’s car then. I ate lot’s of blueberries in this weekend, but now it is time for the cranberries! Blueberries weren’t so sweet anymore, but quite good. Sings that autumn is arriving are visible too.

Here the forest ministry have made some forest fires for fire ecology (not sure what is the correct word, but to burn forest to build new life)

DSCF8363

DSCF8365

Arriving to ferry

Arriving to ferry

Forgot to take photos from the ferry….but check the video 🙂

IMG_20160814_130928

Surely it was a nice weekend trip at the Repovesi! There is still lot’s to see, so someday we will go there again! Maybe even in the winter:)

We rewarded ourselves with good pizzas….

All photos under the blog or check them from my site : http://pixabilly.1g.fi/kuvat/Hiking/Repovesi/

And video can be found from Youtube : https://youtu.be/tIZ_6HDAUdk

 

Thank you for reading, hope you enjoyed!:)