Visiting a charming cat
If we have already visited the capital of Finland, Helsinki, but we do not want to leave this beautiful, though slightly frosty country yet, we can go to a town with a nice-sounding name of Kotka. Funnily enough, it does not mean a fluffy pet - it literally means "eagle". Kotka is located on the coast of the Gulf of Finland, approx. 40 km from the border with Russia. The city center is located on the island of Kotkansaari. The port of Kotka is the country's main seaport , serving for foreign trade in both Finland and Russia.
Being here, it is definitely worth going to the Maritime Center Vellamo. A museum, an information center, a restaurant and a shop are located under the glass roof resembling a huge wave. Another interesting place is the Maretarium, where you can see 60 species of fish found in Finnish waters. Tourists are also delighted by the Sapokka Water Garden with its magnificent waterfalls and diverse flora. For those who love flowers and water flowing over the rocks, it is a must-see.
Kotka has something interesting to offer also to lovers of sacred architecture. They will surely be interested in the neo-Gothic church (Kotkan kirkko tammikuussa) in the city center with sharp towers and a slender, soaring tower. It was designed in the 19th century by the architect Josef Stenbäck and has a capacity of 1.5 thousand. faithful.
Important information for motorhome owners, there is the only 5-star camping in southern Finland - Lomakylä Santalahti (Santalahdentie 150) near the city. It received five stars in 2003, and five years later it entered The SF-Caravan association as the campsite of the year 2008. It offers guests a TV room, a kiosk, a cafe, a car wash, there is also a playground for children, kitchens and a lot of barbecue areas. The vehicle fee here is 17 euros / day, the cost of an adult's stay is 5 euros a day (the same is paid for access to electricity).
Wood Beauty in Porvoo
Returning from Kotka, you can stop for a while in Porvoo, famous for its wooden old town (Vanha Porvoo). There is a medieval cathedral, Porvoon tuomiokirkko. Moderately interesting from the outside, it delights with the richness of the interior, which managed to avoid fire in several fires. Originally the cathedral was wooden, the first stone walls appeared at the beginning of the 15th century.
Porvoo is one of the oldest cities in Finland. It is worth visiting them - the red huts, standing in a neat row by the water, are especially charming. Their beauty and value were appreciated by the city authorities at the beginning of the 19th century, when they decided to extend the center next to the old part, which has been preserved in an unchanged style. And the new buildings were built of wood, thanks to which today Porvoo has a unique atmosphere.
Leaving the city, we head towards a completely different world, where the Finnish Center for Technological Research (VTT) is located and Nokia is thriving. We are going to Espoo, which together with Kauniainen and Vantaa and the capital itself make up the Helsinki city complex.
Espoo - a stone's throw from the capital
The oldest building in the city is the Cathedral (Espoon tuomiokirkko), a medieval stone church built in the late 15th century. Tourists visiting Espoo also head to the district called Tapiola, which has a complex of sports facilities. Tapiola is designed according to the concept of a garden city, so there is a lot of greenery in it. It is very nice and relatively quiet here, so it is worth taking advantage of the possibility of walking around the area. The Automobile Museum with over a hundred vehicles from the early 20th century is also noteworthy. Another Espoo attraction is the castle designed by Akseli Gallen-Kalleli, which houses his painting studio, Tarvaspää - an extremely interesting place, just in time for fans of industrial style.
If we are already on the subject of style and art, a well-known and appreciated figure by the inhabitants of Espoo is Hugo Alvar Henrik Aalto, a Finnish architect famous for his modernist designs. He created Tapiola, he is also the "father" of the main building and library of the Aalto University (Aalto-yliopisto) in Otaniemi. Regardless of whether we like the original design and style of Aalto designs, or prefer more classic shapes, it is definitely worth seeing.
It cannot be denied that one of the main attractions of Espoo (and the whole Helsinki urban complex) is the close proximity to the Nuuksio National Park (Nuuksion kansallispuisto). The symbol of the park is a flying squirrel, which can be seen here with a bit of luck. In addition, the area is cut by numerous walking and skiing routes, there are also camping places. In the center of the park there is the so-called Salmi, where you can park your camper, and tourists who come here can use the shower for free. Nuuksio includes the lakes of Espoo, Vihti and Kirkkonummi, lies on the border of oak and taiga forests, there are many rocky hills here and glacial valleys. The park is easily accessible by bus from Espoo.
After resting in the green lungs of southern Finland, we can move on. What this time? It's high time to visit the Moomin Valley - it will be the subject of the next story.
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