Saturday, 11 February 2012
Friday, 10 February 2012
Thursday, 9 February 2012
Monday, 6 February 2012
|This map from 1908 shows just a small part of the Finnish Lake Disrict. The city of Kuopio - in the upper middle of the map - is still a center for shipping in the Lake District.|
If you like lakes - and islands - Finland is definitively the country to visit - there are about 188,000 lakes in this northern country. Most of the lakes are in the Finnish Lake District, which covers the major part of central and eastern Finland.
|This map, also from 1908, shows the Lake Saimaa region.|
Lake Saimaa, the largest lake, is actually a labyrinth of almost 120 lakes and 14,000 islands. This region has traditionally been a favourite destination for Russian elites from the St. Petersburg area and, of course, also for city dwellers from the Finnish capital.
|A. McCallum Scott probably travelled on one of these steamers, seen here in the Kuopio harbour in the early 1920s. Two of the old steamers , S.S. Punkaharju and S.S. Paul Wahl, are still operating in the Lake District.|
The Scottish MP A. Mcallum Scott travelled by steamer in the Finnish Lake District a little more than a hundred years ago. Scott wrote about his journey in his excellent little book "Through Finland to St. Petersburgh", the first edition of which was published in 1908.
Here are a few of his impressions from the trip:
"The surpassing charm of Finland lies in her lakeland scenery. It is unique and incomparable. Nowhere elsee in Europe have woodlands and water been so inextricablyy interwoven with one another. Nowhere else do we find such endless variety in the combinations and contrasts of land and water, trees, rocks, and skies. The ramifications of the lakes, the indentations of the land, the multiplicity of the islands are almost inconceivable. They are the despair of the geographer, as the star in the Milky Way must be the despair of the astronomer".
"The lakes steamers are marvels of comfort and cheapness. The captains invariably speak excellent English, having served a long apprenticeship on British vessels. The catering is in the hands of stewardesses, whose brightness, cleanliness, and cheerfullness is on of the most important factors in the enjoyment of the voyage."
"The food is excellent, even on the smallest steamers, and its cheapness is astonishing."
"The further north we go the more numerous the islands become, the more fantastic their shapes, their winding bays, their straggling capes, promontories and peninsulas. It is not sufficient to say thay are scattered over the lake; they are splashed."
"A peculiar feature of the Finnish lakes is the number of long narrow ridges of land which stretch out into the water. They consist not of rock but of rubble. Sometimes they stretch for miles, undulating, now a hundred feet in height, and now almost lever with the surface of the water."
"Punkaharju, near Nyslott (Savonlinna) one of the most beautiful spots in Finland, is just such a ridge."
"One of the advantages of travelling by steamer is that it affords invaluable opportunities to the traveller of coming into close contact with the life of the people. The manifold life on board, on shore, and on the lake itself, is full of interest and entertainment. The passengers make a large family, of which all the members are on friendly and familiar terms, each taking a keen interest in every other person´s business, and as freely discussing his own."
"There is also a fair sprinkling of tourists, both native and foreign. The educated Finn usually speaks four or five languages, and is a charming travelling companion."
|A steamer in the Lake Pielinen canal|
|The last call of the 1925 season of steamer Imatra II, operating in the Lake Saimaa region|
|The Lake District steamer Suomi (Finland) in the 1920s. The S.S. Suomi, which was launched in 1905, is still operating in the Lake Päijänne region. |