• BLOG
  • Where In Finnish Lapland I Would Like To Go Right Now

    Tiina Kivelä

    That time of the year again, especially since this summer my Lapland trip sum is zero. My social media feed and WhatsApp chats have filled with pics of freshly picked cloudberries, the last rays of midnight sun, the midnight dips in the lakes by which the wood heated saunas spoil the lucky ones.  The smoked fresh water fish, endless gravel roads in between mellow height fells and in the background the silence and clean air one can only experience in Lapland…

    Yes, I miss it and the messages don’t help it. It’s the time of being homesick, and dream of good old Lapland summer trip.

    If I am lucky, I get to make it this year already. But if not, I can always dream. And I thought it would be fun to share with everybody my dream destinations and activities in Lapland for summer / early autumn season.

    Maybe you get to go there before me even. Pidä hauskaa!

    Rovaniemi

    First, to land smoothly, I would start my trip in Rovaniemi, to enjoy the best of this small yet lively urban centre of Finnish Lapland. I would take a room (with sauna) in Arctic Light Hotel and wake up the next day to the best breakfast in town. Then, I would stroll around the town and by the river. Visit Korundi and their excellent museum shop, and have a coffee break in Chocodeli.

    For lunch, I would decide between Yuca (mexican), Hostel Cafe Koti (the coziest ), Roka Street Bistro (the best truly Lappish bistro menu and the best risottos in town)  and Kauppayhtiö (for the best burgers, therefore the best for slightly hangover days).

    I would also take a walking/running/biking trip to Ounasvaara hill, the urban outdoors playground in Rovaniemi, and then roll back down for sauna (and maybe palju in Hostel Cafe Koti’s Mökki roof terrace) and after bike/hike/work drinks in either in the wintergarden of Arctic Light Hotel or Yuca again (the best margaritas).

    Finally, I would end my day with dinner in Roka Kitchen & Wine Bar or Pure Pizza, sleep the second night in Arctic Tree Hotel before the next day before continuing further; either to Hiidenkirnut (Devils churns) in Rautiosaari village, 25km off from Rovaniemi city or all the way to my original hometown Kemijärvi (on the better side of the Arctic Circle).

    Finnish Lapland Food Roka

    Pssst. If you are looking for real luxury experience in Lapland, take note of Rovaniemi based Luxury Action and their new private wilderness experience, the Octola lodge. It’s something I would do if someone else wouldn’t be doing it already. Because it’s the Lapland experience I got as a birth gift and which I am always happy to see others getting in any way they can.

     

     

    Ylläs & Pallas-Ylläs National Park

    Ylläs (Ylläs Ski Resort and Pallas-Ylläs National park) – few hours by car from Rovaniemi and with direct flights to nearby Kittilä Airport and night train to nearby Kolari – was in 2019 named as the best outdoors destination in the voting by GoExpo Fair. Mainly for their excellent mountainbiking infrastructure and development plans.

    Currently there would over 200km marked trails for mountain biking (enduro, downhill and gravel grinding) in summer and 100km in winter (fatbiking). From midsummer to end of September the Ylläs Gondola (up to 719m) would also serve especially the DH bikers and bike park is also found from the resort area.

    And for a real wilderness bike adventure, I would steer my bike to the trails in the national park (please note that only specific trails in the park are allowed for bikes) and the wilderness resorts of Harriniva Hotels & Safaris, in example Torassieppi and Jerisjärvi, in where you also find excellent restaurants with truly lappish, local delicacies.

    For sleeping well in Ylläs, I would finally like to try Aurora Estate Boutique Hotel in Ylläsjärvi.

     

    Tiina Kivelä

    Saariselkä, Urho Kekkonen National Park & Utsjoki

    Like in Ylläs and Pyhä, also in Saariselkä the neighbouring national park, in here the Urho Kekkonen National Park (UKK) is now allowing mountain biking on some of its trails. And what even better, my favourite bike tour company in Rovaniemi, RollOutdoors, has also opened their second branch in the Kiilopää wilderness resort near Saariselkä, offering rental bikes, service and guided tours on the trails of national park and around.

    The fells here aren’t too big but the magnificent wilderness and almost endless trails – many of which follow the natural reindeer paths in not so straight flowy lines – make it one of the most unique biking destinations there currently is. In here you would easily feel exactly as small, humble and enchanted as anyone experiencing wild northern nature as it’s purest form. Not many services around though, so keep your back well stocked with necessary repair and orienteering devices, as well as clothes for any weather and enough food and water for longer than expected tours.

    While the wilderness here is endless, good accommodation, restaurants and other comforting services and products you still find plenty enough in Saariselkä resort, in where also the best northern lights show
    on top of Kaunispää (=beautiful head in Finnish) waits for you, if you are in place at the right time, from late August on. And in winter, you find the longest toboggan run (lighted for the polar night) in Finland from the top of Kaunispää down to Saariselkä resort centre.

    Ps. While going as far north as to Saariselkä,  one should also consider driving a bit more up north, in example to Inari, where the center of Sami Culture, Sajos, indigenous peoples music festival Ijahis Idja and unique local culture are waiting to be explored. And if that is not enough middle of nowhere, drive to Nellim in the Russian border, and spent a night or two in the Wilderness Hotel Nellim. 

    And all the way up to Utsjoki in this direction, one would find even more wilderness, the magnificent Kevo canyon and finally the border to Norway and direct road to the Barents sea.

    Tiina Kivelä

     

    Pyhä-Luosto National Park

    This is the mountain resort and national park in Finnish Lapland I call my home resorts. Pyhätunturi (Holy Hill) and Pyhä-Luosto National Park. Here have I skied the most, hiked the most and even biked the most. Although for biking it only got better after I moved away, when some of the trails in the Pyhä-Luosto National Park were opened for mountain biking too.

    In Pyhätunturi, the skiresort/village,  you find traditional (to Lapland) log cabins and housing, a hotel, many rental cabins and apartments, few restaurants and the National park info centre Naava. And in the northern end of the national park, in Luosto, you find another quiet charming small village, tiny amethyst mine and one of the nicest old forests in Lapland.

    This is a great place for hikers, runners and bikers. For short bursts around the fells or up to the tops to see the midnight sun and enjoy great waffles with the already mentioned cloudberries (in ravintola Tsokka on top of the Pyhä fell), all day hikes over many fells – like the Noitatunturi (Witch Fell) hike to the left side fell in the pic below – or traditional two day hike (35km) hike from Pyhä to Luosto – or other way round – stopping on the way for night camping or sleeping in a wilderness hut (reservations from the national park service).

    Tiina Kivelä

     

    Currently, I have no tickets booked but after writing this… I do hope I find some time before the first snow falls on these fells. There’s something magical in Lapland which always stays with one, no matter where you go after. And the phenomenon has even a name: Lapin taika.

    Magic of Lapland.

  • Bern
  • Berglauf Engelberg – Trailrunning In Central Switzerland

    Tiina Kivelä Engelberg

    A little race a year keeps woman’s motivation high.

    That according to the one who just finished her almost yearly race tradition in Berglauf Engelberg. Also known as me. In slight flu and two months earlier injured ligaments (now the ankle is ok, mom, no worries). It was tough and humbling – definitely not the best day for me for the above mentioned reasons – but it was also more than fun. Almost as fun as the Jungfrau Marathon (yes I’m strange).  Also, one of the best ways to keep the spirits high for almost daily physical practice, for another year forward at least. (Other good reasons general health, getting old, and simply fun times outdoors.)

    What really was the best though in Berglauf Engelberg – as the race is called these days – was that there was (alcohol free) beer at the finish, and excellent views on the way to distract one from the extremely bad feeling one gets when running over 1000m vertical up in 9km. And of course there was also melted cheese on the way back. To get back all those calories lost when running up the uphill from Engelberg 1010m to Rugghubelhütte SAC 2296m– 9km and 1286m elevation gain – in slightly autumnal, bright sunny August day with a little refreshing breeze… (Yes the weather was perfect for race.)

    And if you are looking for a nice little vertical mountain/trail running race for next year to test your limits and capacity (to stand the really bad feeling) or are just looking for something crazy to do, keep this event in mind.

    And if you are looking for some nice fun training runs in Engelberg and around, now after few months living and running in here I can finally recommend few. (Scroll further below the pics for the tips.)

    Berglauf Engelberg 2019

    Berglauf Engelberg 2019

    Engelberg Berglauf 2019

    Trübsee Alpenrose

    Trailrunning In Engelberg – 5 Recommendations

    Since moving to Engelberg in the beginning of April, I have had some time to explore at varied phase the trails for running, in the Engelberg valley itself and the mountains around. And by now, I have some favourites to share, for weekly evening runs and for all day free day escapades. So if you are visiting Central Switzerland with running shoes, check these.

    In general, for the excellent outdoors destination Engelberg is, there’s plenty of marked (hiking) trails to combine your run. And while I do give you suggestions about where to go and which exact places to pass, I would recommend you to take a look at the map with these waypoints in mind, and make your own tour of the available options. According to your current feeling, weather and whatever you normally base your runs to.

    Aaschlucht/Aa river gorge 

    For short bursts and technical challenges (this is where I twisted my ankle earlier in the summer) the path by the Aa river from Engelberg to Grafenort and back – or shorter stretches adjusting it with the help of the many cute bridges over and the trails running on both sides of the wild river – is one of the best.

    This summer, it’s also been one of the best places to mess up my Strava stages, because wild strawberries.

    Aaschlucht Running Engelberg

    Gerschnialp

    For nice evening sunset run or a random middle distance run with about 400m elevation, take the loop from Engelberg to Gerschnialp and back down from the other side.

    Can be also combined nicely with core and technique training by running through the Zürich Vitaparcous loop near Bänklialp. (Beware of the cow and pig smell though – there’s many farms around this loop.)

    Engelberg Trail Running

    Engelberg Trail Running

    Fürenalp

    For proper elevation and good food on the way, take the Fürenalp bahn either up or down. And run from Fürenalp valley station up to Fürenalp past Alpenrösli and Stäfeli, or take the trail other way round for some nice downhill cruising.

     Can be also combined with tour up to Surenenpass and why not with even a longer stretch along the Via Alpina multi stage hiking route through all Switzerland.

    Engelberg Trail Running

    Engelberg Trail Running

    4 lakes – Trübsee, Engstlensee, Tannensee & Melchsee 

    For nice all day running tours, the so called 4 lakes hiking region is the place to run in Engelberg. First, take the cable car up to Trübsee (or at the other end to Melchsee) and enjoy the highlands and many hiking (aka running) paths in the area around the four lakes, famous for the hiking tour with the same name.

    Here you find a network of trails to choose from, clear lakes to take a dip on a hot day (but note that swimming in Tannensee is not allowed), and many restaurants and guesthouses to have a nice meal, drink or even good night sleep before, after and in between of your run.

    Many cows and marmots and goats and weasels too.

    Trübsee Engelberg 2019

    Engstlenalp Switzerland

    Tannenalp Switzerland Trail Running

    Engstlenalp Engelberg Via Alpina

    Melchsee-Frutt Engelberg Switzerland

    Via Alpina Engelberg Switzerland

    Bonus: Engelberg valleyby the river and to the wasserfall and end of the world.

    Not all trail running must contain lots of elevation and technical difficulty (almost the opposite – remember to take care of your body), and for easy almost flat runs in Engelberg you find many good paths in the Engelberg valley itself.

    One of my favourite goes first past the monastery a bit up to the Ende Der Welt (end of the world) settlement, then past housing and farms to Wasserfall (nice waterfalls in here) and Fürenalp valley station, then turns back past the Engelberg Seilpark and ends with few kilometres rolling by the icy cold Aa river all the way back to town.


    Where: Engelberg, Switzerland

  • Badi
  • How To Do Wellness – Frutt Lodge & Spa & Sauna

    Melchsee Switzerland 2019

    Melting the pains away – the best alpine & Finnish way – in Frutt Lodge & Spa.

    So, I’ve become a spa person. (Or maybe just old, though won’t admit anything.) A good, clean, quiet spa (and sauna – more than else a good sauna) kinda person. To balance the life well, as I’m also more frequently the runner-skier-biker semi-physical worker kinda person.

    And slowly – yet with a great intention – I have become a Swiss spa person. (Very slowly really, because Swiss spas require good Swiss budget. Which I luckily have now.)

    Finally literally even, since earlier this week  I tested the Berglauf Engelberg track (9km up – and down – with 1200m+ vertical) resulting in pretty (read very) sore legs in real need of sauna and spa. Yet first, I joined my friends on their Via Alpina multi day hike from Engelberg to Interlaken.  But since I didn’t have time for as long hike as my friends, I took the chance, skipped the Tannensee – Meiringen stage and directed my sore legs to the Melchsee-Frutt direction after a hike from Engelberg to Engstlenalp and night in the cozy, Wes Anderson’ish hotel Engtslenalp (more of which some other time). Knowing there would be a pretty good spa to try get a good cure for my pains.

    And oh boy, did it do it. Very well indeed.

    In addition to offering effective and lasting cure to my sore legs as a spa (they were like newborns on my way back home) Frutt Spa (in the Frutt Lodge & Spa complex by lake Melchsee in Central Switzerland, not far from Lucerne) also seems (read feels) to have the best Finnish sauna I have ever stepped into (funny how the Swiss seem to know very well how to do good things of wood –saunas included).

    Offering unique alpine wellness, the frutt spa pool and the saunas were topped with good wood (including the smell and carvings) and cows crazing outside the big windows opening to the lake. Lucky me (for once) also got the saunas and spa almost all to myself on this day – note how you can visit the spa as external day quest only by request, 40,- for an admission– and could walk away with mind and body relaxed, simply cured and amazed by the experience.

    Next time gonna come by bike though. And book a room. Because after sauna like this, a good sleep or easy lazy roll is way better than the long hike I did to get back home with the last lifts in the Engelberg side.

    Finnish Sauna Frutt Lodge & Spa Switzerland

    Melchsee-Frutt

    Frutt Lodge & Spa Switzerland 2019


    Where: Hotel Frutt Lodge & Spa, 1920m above sea level, Melchsee-Frutt, Switzerland (map)

    Ps. Note how a spa or hotel visit in here can be combined nicely with a multi day hiking, mountain biking or trail running tour from/to Engelberg, Meiringen or Stöckalp direction (only for a limited period in summer you can drive to Melchsee-Frutt).

    And while Frutt Lodge & Spa is a very stylish place, it’s still true to the alpine lifestyle. So, in here hiking boots and mountain bikes are better accessory choices than stilettos and Teslas.