First RatBall Roadtrip 2021, Tour de Finland
The original plan was to make a Roadtrip all the way to the Norway Nordkapp. Due to the prevailing corona situation, we had to change the plan in the last few meters and move directly to Plan C. We did not dare to take the risk of being stuck on the border, even though the situation with Norway already looked bright.
Plan B would have been a route of roughly the same length, in which we would have circled e.g. To the Rengastie of the archipelago, Porvoo and Saimaa to Rovaniemi. In this respect, too, we were a little late and most of the hotels on the route from Southern Finland were fully booked when we had to change the plan. After all, this Plan C was great for its driveways, roads and scenery. The route went from Seinäjoki to Imatra, from there to Vuokatti, Rovaniemi, Inari and in Levi we spent the last night.
The departure took place on Monday morning from the yard of Rengastie Autotarvikke and the first night was spent in Imatra at the State Hotel. Initially, we headed towards Tuuri, where you will find the Central Village Store and JM Rally Parc Fermè and Jari-Matti Latvala's car fleet. From there we continued through Ähtäri towards Korpilahti and Vääksy. The Korpilahti-Vääksy distance has been voted the most beautiful scenic route in our country. You can get ice cream from your own ice cream factory at Vääksy Kanava's Helmi Café, and Vääksy also has a real French village shop.
After Vääksy, there is Route 24 in Paimela. A really good place to eat in Paimela Baron, where you can refuel both cars and passengers. After the food break, we continued our trip to the Woikoski Car Museum, which receives a really strong recommendation. There you will find a really great collection of old restored cars and really interesting stories of history. Lappeenranta Fortress can also be found on the way. Lappeenranta has the largest sand castle in Finland and is rebuilt every summer. Lappeenranta Market Square is also worth a visit and Imatrankoski is Finland's oldest tourist attraction and also a national landscape.
When we arrived at the State Hotel in Imatra, we enjoyed a tasty dinner buffet. We also met local motorcycle buddies who gave a good tip for the next day’s route.
On the morning of the second day we left the main road 62 towards Mikkeli. This has also been voted on the list of the most beautiful scenic routes in Finland. In the port of Puumala, it is worth visiting Ville Haapasalo's Hatsapuri. The Puumala-Mikkeli interval has also been voted one of the most beautiful scenic routes in our country. Glass Rose In the center of Puumala there is a souvenir shop with local glassware for sale.
Before Mikkeli, you should put Kenkävero on your navigator, where Pappila's café is in a very beautiful place and this place is also called Santa's summer place. Mikkeli Cathedral is one of the most impressive churches in Finland. Mikkeli also has a Headquarters and Infantry Museum if you are interested in war matters.
In Savonlinna, it is worth visiting Olavinlinna and after that, if you choose to bypass the more western lake, you can admire Finland's largest wooden church in Kerimäki. In Joensuu, it is worth visiting the Botanical Garden. There is an impressive collection of butterflies and they also fly free and come to sit on their hands.
Joensuu Market Square is also a must-see for this route. There are always Sultsinos and Karelian pies for sale. The market has been in the same place since 1848. The market hall on the edge of the market is also a place worth visiting. The absolute stop is the Finnish national landscape and Koli. 10 minutes from Vuokatti you can visit the alpacas of Naapurilampi.
For the night we arrived at Break Sokos Hotel Vuokatti, in the yard of which there was a nice parking lot for the accompanying car parks. On the recommendation of the locals of Imatra, we also drove the magnificent winding Museum Road. A strong recommendation if the trip takes you to Eastern Finland.
The route of the third day ran strongly up the military border along the fragrant eastern border. Almost everyone has heard of the miracle of the town halls and the names of this area are buzzing with places familiar from military history. Old battlefields, and the absolute highlight was the Raatteenportti and the Winter War Museum, as well as the Raatteentie itself.
If you are not interested in military history, you could drive to Ranua Zoo. There are polar bears and whatever animals and at the same time comes a little brisk. A strong recommendation for lunch at the zoo’s lunch restaurant, which almost always serves reindeer shake.
We continued our journey to Juntusranta, where the first shots of the Winter War were fired. At the Kuusamo Large Carnivore Center, you got to know Finnish predators. The Great Beast Center is an orphanage for wildlife. The scenery is also right in Kuusamo and the Hiking Trails of Karhunkierros and Pienen Karhunkierros leave from here. After that, the trip continued through Posio to Rovaniemi and Santa Claus Holiday Village for the night, where you can meet Santa Claus all year round.
On the four mornings of the day, we set off for Kemijärvi, where those who were interested went to see Andy McCoy's home corners and the statue in Pelkosenniemi. There, when you open the door of the pub, life is guaranteed to stop as in the movies. The Joutsijärvi Bunkers in Kemijärvi tell about the wartime in this area and are also worth a visit.
Päivin Kammari Sodankylä has some of the best places to eat in the area. In the Sodankylä / Luosto area, you can visit the Lampivaara Amethyst Mine. In Ivalo, it is worth visiting Raja-Joosep and in Inari you have the opportunity to get on a cruise on Lake Inarinjärvi. Since the day trip would have been short when we arrived in Inari, we continued our trip to the Utsjoki grill for a snack. After a snack to Nuorgam on the Norwegian border and following the Teno River via Karigasniemi back to the Inari hotel. This route is also on the list of the most beautiful roads in Finland, and it is not swampy.
In the morning we set off for Levi. Today's route was the shortest of the trip. We drove through Sodankylä to the Goldava areas of Tankavaara. There I was able to flush gold for ten euros for an hour. If you got gold, you got to keep it. The equipment was included in the price from the partners. Wanha Waskoolimiehi’s restaurant is a legendary place where you can even get a gold digger’s burger that includes venison and reindeer meat, as well as a lump.
The journey continued through Unar and Lohiniva to Levi and there is notoriously much to do there for everyone. On the way to Saariselkä, it is worth visiting the top of Restaurant Kaunispää. Stunning scenery and rumored to be Finland's best reindeer herding. Tasty fried pancakes were available from Cafe Harianna by the bridge on Lake Vajusen. Lohihovi Lohiniva is especially known for its monks, it is worth stopping for a monk coffee.
In Levi, it is worth taking the sightseeing lifts and you can also go summer sledding there. In the evening we enjoyed the hotel’s tasty buffet and after that we held a small race and later we also awarded the RatBall 2021 Masters as well as the RatBall 2021 Best Team. Reijo and Jare Valkama, the Baron Paimela with his son, were crowned champions. The best team was Sami Lahti, who due to general pressure “had to” pick up a hitchhiker. 😊
The route, the scenery and the people involved made the trip memorable. Next year again? 😊