• BLOG
  • Same Same but Different – Obersee Bike Tour

    rapperswil biking

    It’s spring and it’s bike season. And funny how similar they are, my longer – once or twice a week – bike routes in the current home in Switzerland, and the past in Lapland.

    Here in Switzerland, the route goes around Obersee (linked to the Zürichsee, around which goes my a bit longer – max once a week – route). It follows gravel roads by railways and the lake itself; rolls through more or less cute villages and towns; offers detours over hills and through forests; and passes patches of agricultural land and farms.

    In the distance, the Alps show off majestically when the weather is clear, and on the lake and fields swans look like they couldn’t care less. On the Seedamm, from Rapperswil to Pfäffikon SZ, it also lets me ride on a narrow bath of land between the two lakes, and it’s not just one good hot day plunge place I know along the way. 

    The scenes and scents aren’t much different in Lapland, where my usual tour route winds around the lake Kemijärvi. It doesn’t offer a beautiful castle and old town like Rapperswil, and up north the season for these tours is way shorter than in south. But there are the lake and the roads, the damm between the lakes, fells instead of Alps, and water so clean that on a hot day I happily take a midway plunge. And for the summer also the whooper swans return to the lakes of Lapland. (Some of them like to spent their winters as far as in Switzerland.)

    On top of the similarities, the adventures in Lapland also built me a good base for many great adventures; the bike tours in Switzerland included. Without the 20 to 40km tours, the 50km+ tours around lake Obersee wouldn’t go this smoothly. (Especially since in Lapland I biked with a heavy switchless city bike, with rough and wide tires. While here in Switzerland I now bike with the light road bike tuned a bit, but just a bit, to the gravel type.)

    It’s also the tours like these which are the summer version of nordic skiing. Both perfect exercise and meditation, the cycling works as an alternative restorative therapy. The movement itself is a bit monotone, flowing movement which resembles a dance choreography. And with the fresh air, changing landscape and focus on what lays ahead (in seconds and meters, not years and kilometres) it helps to clear the head and root for my surroundings strongly (though extreme rooting in a way of crashing isn’t advisable).

    I can’t say the head clearing is needed for too much work, but I admit that the recent creative sprints and challenging deadlines on top of the pandemic uncertainty (including the fact I still don’t know when I get to visit Lapland again) do built up some extra need for these tours. 

    The best “cure” ingredient though is the coffee or gelato stop (or both) before the last few kilometres. It’s the reason I do my Obersee tour counterclockwise and my a bit longer Zürichsee tour clockwise.

    For the best gelato with the best views one gets from Rapperswil. Just so you know. 

     

     

  • 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.

  • BLOG
  • It’s 2019 – Companies, Do Better – Please

    Tiina Kivelä Creative

    Today I got an idea. Could we just decide that in 2019 more companies and even individuals would make more effort on doing their best to cut off the bullsh*t –be it single use plastic, poor quality gadgets made to break, wasted resources and so on – and just do better in any and every way they can?

    Though this time, for the initial idea, I can only blame myself for making the same mistake again. (Note to self: do not do the same mistake third time). Should have just followed my basic rule of buying only from the good ones. Like when updating my outdoor gear, nowadays only buying from the ones like Houdini, who’s both making outdoor clothing which is not all pink and red for women (!) and innovating as one of the best examples in the outdoor gear industry (honest non-paid personal opinion this is).

    Less Wasting, More Good Doing

    In the pic here, you see two things I bought from tax free yesterday, on my way to Switzerland. Two examples from the skincare industry (please note the same thinking could be applied to almost any products, so men read on, please). One good and other not so good example.

    To the left is my face cleanser favourite – Dr. Hauschka cleansing cream – and the package it was sold in. And to the right Lumene serum and its packaging, which I bought to help with my poor skin shocked by the  -30°C outside air, sahara dry indoor air of my Lapland flat, and the occasional +60°C dry heat sauna (please note the humid sauna does more than good to your skin).

    Long story short, I cannot believe I was so stupid to buy that serum even though it came in that totally unnecessary plastic wrapping, and in the cardboard box almost twice the size of the product itself. The same stupid thing I noticed when buying Lumene’s balm last summer. Stupid, because it’s 2019 and rarely anyone – at least not the ones whose copy texts says anything about natural, nordic and arctic – uses unnecessary plastic and space in they packages. This way not adding to the plastic pollution and wasting resources in transport, storage and retail shelves. Nor other stupid stuff.

    I mean, it’s 2019 now and already in 2018 my Nike running shoes came in plastic free packaging – not even the tape was plastic – and every other company wanting to be ahead of the game things how to help to reach the climate goals and not destroy the resources they claim to love so much. And more importantly, the best ones act, to make a positive impact.

    I have liked the ingredients of the harmony line products of Lumene, and as a Finnish brand utilising the great nordic resources Lumene’s kind of a brand I would like to like even more. Nevertheless, it’s 2019 and I simply don’t feel this ignorance. Because I want to see more companies making the effort, for the climate, environment and business even.

    Are you with me?

    Ps. More on the sustainability, rethinking packaging and beauty industry i.e. in here and here.