Monday, July 16, 2012

Baltic Adventure Part 7 - Afternoon in Elisaari: A Hike, A Sauna, And Some Very Good Laughs

Long and busy day at work - time to escape to Finland again for an hour or so!

 So, we did end up sailing in a little drizzle - but we found our way and got there with enough time in the afternoon to really enjoy Elisaari, which was lovely.

 6/19/2012 journal entry, (continued shortly after arriving right around lunchtime): Proper spelling - Elisaari! Gorgeous place. We had grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch (Capt. Kat's idea, and just the thing after a long and chilly sail). Now we hike, sauna, shower, and have dinner.

10:43 PM - what a nice place! We had a beautiful hike - I did manage to soak the sneakers I'd so carefully not worn in the rain earlier, wearing the kayaking booties I'd brought for bad weather; the rain had stopped by the time we went hiking, but the grass was soaked and soon my sneakers were too - but I didn't care too much!

The sauna was great - wood fired, and by a beautiful little swimming beach for cold plunges (the water was brisk but not too icy) - there were wildflowers all around the short path from the sauna down to the beach, and tall reeds all around the beach so it was like having your own private beach. We didn't really need the privacy as we were all very American about it and chose to wear swimsuits, even B., who lives in Berlin and is a convert to the German-style sauna experience (an elaborate ritual overseen by a staff member who keeps the stones steaming, charges them with a range of aromatic oils, and twirls a towel in elaborate patterns to distribute the steam and fragrance - B. had us all in stitches with his attempted demonstration of the towel flapping, rendered all the funnier because there just wasn't enough room to flap the towel properly), but it was so still pleasant having our own little spot. And the sun came out for the afternoon! note while posting - B. eventually sent us a couple of YouTube links, one to a very fancy towel-twirling demonstration, the other to the full ritual including the scented oils, which I will share at the end of this post.
Note while posting - Signing up for our sauna time. This was also where we paid our docking fee - that was actually a very, very funny moment. None of us speak a word of Finnish; the night before we'd actually failed to pay because the woman running the kiosk spoke no English and we didn't have the faintest idea what we were supposed to do. We came in here & the first thing Capt. Kat said to the young lady with the red hair was "Do you speak English?", to which the young lady cheerfully replied "Yes".  "Oh good!", Capt. Kat said, breaking into a beautiful smile, "We're Americans, we don't know anything!" Everyone there burst out laughing and the young lady told us what we owed for the night's stay, accepted our fee, and then told us where the hiking trail was and helped us sign up for a post-hike hour-long sauna. "We're Americans, we don't know anything!" became a catchphrase for the rest of the trip. 

This was the other sauna - ours was very similar except even nicer, a little more tucked away, this one was right near the restrooms and such - but you get the idea, just a simple little wooden cabin with a flowery path down to a little beach. 

Now back to the journal - 

I think the only dissappointment of the day was the showers - we paid 3 euros each to take showers after our sauna and swim, but the hot water was malfunctioning. There was just enough hot water to tease a person who'd really been looking forward to a nice hot shower into happily stepping under the spray, then, with a violent sputtering of the pipes, it turned ICY COLD! Argh! I managed to get somewhat cleaned up but it was practically painful (by comparison, the water at the beach where we were jumping in during our sauna session felt mild). 

More or less cleaned up, we went back to the boat, where we had some delicious appetizers - a sliced baguette with pesto, brie, smoked herring and olives for those who like olives (I don't, I stuck with the first three). We had asparagus risotto for dinner - nothing fancy, just dried packets that you added to water, but very yummy after the afternoon's activities.
Next day's plan: Get up early and sail 45 miles to Pihlajassari, a nature preserve in Helsinki Harbor. The weather was supposed to be much nicer!

I will close with 3 links - the first, in case you've stumbled across this because you are thinking of a Baltic vacation that includes a visit to Elisaari, is once again the Helsinki Sports Department's information page on Elisaari; the other two are the links to the YouTube videos showing the full German sauna ritual in all its glory - and then some, I suspect these are a little over-the-top for TV! :D


O Docker said...

Nice flora.

This looks like the kind of place where Munchkins or leprechauns would hang out.

Any idea why they prefer docking bow-to rather than stern-to (the Finns, not the leprechauns)?

bonnie said...

Doesn't it? I was looking for the gnomes and trolls and kobolds I was sure were scuttling for cover around every bend in the trail.

Bow to dock is the general Scandinavian docking scheme - no idea why, that's just what almost everybody does. B. and I both took a couple of days to figure out a good way to get off the boat - it ends up being a pretty good jump down (this was a particularly tall dock in fact so here we weren't so bad off) complicated by the railings around the bow - there's a tiny platform up there that's supposed to aid you but you sort of had to start your jump off of one foot, because if you tried to start from a two-footed stance, one of your feet would get tangled in the railing & you'd land on your face. B. had some back issues that made it difficult; I used to do a similar jump regularly when I was working on the Adirondack, but as I told Capt. Kat, I never liked it, I did it often enough to be sure that I could do it if I had to, but mostly I left it to the spry young kids who really enjoyed it.

That was a few years ago & my first attempt at just jumping here, at a much lower dock than this one, involved a heavy landing on one knee (I was fine but the new windpants got their first hole). After that I restrained myself & took legs up & down. Eventually B. and I discovered that the anchor bracket had a solid little corner that served as just the extra step we both needed to get up and down, but before that we made up a little lament, to the tune of Yesterday:

Stern to dock,
From the boat onto the pier we'd walk,
Then our knees we would not have to shock
Oh, bow to dock,
Oh, what the fock?

A lot of the locals had little ladders installed on their bow for just this reason, and we saw one family who actually had a ramp for their elderly Golden Retriever to use.

capefearboy said...

Beautiful photos.

bonnie said...

Thanks! Beautiful country!