• CYCLING
  • Outdoor Activities In The Time Of Covid-19

    Biking Switzerland Tiina Kivelä

    Backyard escapades are the trend these days. At least for the ones who are still allowed to go out. And it really becomes a luxury when your backyard is the Swiss Alps, with it’s mountains, hiking trails, xc-ski tracks (not in Engelberg though) and just the nature and landscapes itself.

    In here, one can really take advantage of the health benefits what being physically active (or just lazying around) in the nature offe. Outdoor activities in the time of covid-19 shouldn’t be too risky and taking all the safety measures and distance recommendations seriously is more than advisable, but they are ok and they have many benefits, like always.

    (And well, if you are like me this Tuesday, one can also very easily totally freeze her fingers and upper body when riding the bike down from the treeline. Note to self: It’s still March, the ski and skitouring high season. Not biking, despite what the temperatures from the previous weeks and closed ski resorts suggest.)

    And (not bragging but) since in the past (while carelessly sitting close to each other in restaurants and sharing the bowls of moules frites‘ with friends and strangers like no one currently) I have studied the outdoor recreation and nature based tourism and tapped in some hours in the Finnish Forest Research Institute – who conduct research on these things too –  I thought to share now some of the research findings on the health benefits of natural environment exposure.

    (On side of advising you more practically to not forget the warmer gloves and jackets and headbands if you already get up and down the hills and mountains with your bike. I think next time I take my ski gloves.)

    These are not the easiest of times for most of us, but I hope this too can help at least some to cope a bit better with the uphills and challenges. And please note the last sentence of the quote below. I know in many places the parks are closed too and urban hangouts aren’t advised even on outdoor spaces. So what’s better to know that even research shows that our favourite things, urban forests, recreation and coastal areas work better for our health and wellbeing than the now closed urban settings.

    I know, for many even these are hard to get to especially now, but I do hope we all are back to our favourite things sooner than later.

    Until that, let’s try to make the most of it despite everything, dream and plan on. What’s best, it also doesn’t cost anything.

    Please do note though, if you are going out these days – walking, biking, running, easy hikes and (xc) ski tours –please keep in mind the recommendations of your local health authority. Which in Switzerland means that one should keep as close home as possible, keep at least 2 meter distance to every other person, avoid public transport, not meet/gather with more than 5 people etc. (The Swiss authority instructions in many languages can be found in here.) Also, if you in example are in Swiss Canton Uri and over 65, you shouldn’t go out at all. (And if you are under 65 and healthy, go help your neighbour and the over 65 year old near you.)

    It’s also always advisable – and especially now–  to do your best to avoid injuries and other emergencies. Covid-19 is a huge challenge for the whole healthcare and emergency response system and you shouldn’t be the one going to the hospital with broken leg right now. So keep it safe, keep it your responsible careful granny/grandpa -style, and keep it delivering the good, not bad.

    See you on the other side!

    Spending time and being physically active in nature promotes well-being and health. Nature helps us recover from the effects of stress and forget our everyday worries. It also lifts our moods. The effects are manifested in lower blood pressure and a stabilised heart rate.

    Spending time in our favourite spots in nature, in particular, restores us. Experiences of restoration in reported favourite spots such as recreation areas, urban forests and coastal areas are stronger than those reported in favourite spots such as parks or built-up urban environments.

    Quote: The Natural Resources Institute Finland– The effects of nature on well-being


    Where: My backyard (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.

  • BLOG
  • My Lapland Ritual

    Tiina Kivelä Lapland

    One of those. My favourite Lapland rituals. xc-skiing. Skating style.

    It’s good to be back in Lapland and on cross-country tracks. Even though, I clearly notice that I haven’t trained enough for the season of one of the toughest, if not toughest, sports in world.

    It requires the endurance of ultrarunning, the sprint speed of mountain biking, the mental toughness of open water swimming, and, at times, can put skiers in situations of real exposure.––– To be successful, athletes must maintain unparalleled cardiovascular fitness in addition to muscular strength and coordination.

    Yes, it’s tough, and if not born skis attached to your feet like I kinda did, it’s better to get a good amount of (technique) lessons and good gear before gliding away.

    Nevertheless, it’s nice and more than worth it. And humbling.

    Exercise, meditation (kind of) and fresh air (one of the purest in the world). All in one.  And when it’s crispy cold, sauna afterward melts.

    On top of it all, you really earn your beer skiing nordic.


    Where: Ounasvaara, Rovaniemi, Finland