Day 16 - Stockholm to Finland (FI)

The flag of Finland, also called siniristilippu, dates from the beginning of the 20th century. On a white background, it features a blue Nordic cross, which represents Christianity.

We boarded a Viking Line ferry at 7am and set off on the leisurely 11-hour trip to Turku in Finland. The ship was amazing and the duty-free shop alone was the size of a standard UK supermarket. Alcohol is very expensive in Finland and the Scandinavian countries and so this is a good opportunity for locals to stock up on cheaper booze! The  journey was very scenic and we apparently sailed through '30,000 islands, islets, rocks and skerries of the Stockholm Archipelago' (I didn't count!). There are about 221,831 islands in Sweden and it is possible to buy
After a few hours we docked at the port of Mariehamn, the capital of the Åland Islands or Åland. It is an autonomous region of Finland with its own flag and parliament although the inhabitants speak Swedish.It is a very popular holiday resort.

The crossing cost us less than £45 for both of us with our interrail discount and we were given an outside cabin.

Fun facts:

  • Finland Is the happiest country in the world. (NB apparently Copenhagen is the happiest city!)
  • Just over 100 years ago on 6th December 1917, the country officially declared independence from Russia.
  • Finns are the biggest coffee consumers in the world - an average of 12 kg per person every year.
  • Finland has the most amount of heavy metal band per capita in the world.
  • With a population of 5.4 million, it has over 3 million saunas.
  • 99% of the population take a sauna once a week or more and there is a Burger King that has an in-store sauna!
  • Time zone in Finland (GMT+2)
  • The Finns invented the Molotov cocktail.
  • The country offers free education at elementary, secondary and even university levels. This free access is also offered to students from the EU/EES.
  • In 1906, Finland became the first country in Europe that gave women from all levels of society the right to vote and stand for parliament.
  • The Finnish language is part of the Finno-Ugric language group and is said to be more similar to Estonian than the Scandinavian languages such as Danish, Norwegian and Swedish. It is not even an Indo-European language but belongs to the Uralic language family.
  • A quarter of the country is in the Arctic Circle in an area known as the “Land of the Midnight Sun”. The sun doesn’t set here for 73 consecutive summer days annually and it doesn’t rise at all for 51 days during the winter (known as polar night).
  • There are some 187,888 lakes in Finland larger than 500 square metres (5,400 sq ft).
  • Swedish-speaking Finnish illustrator Tove Jansson created the hippo-like creatures known as the Moomins. On the island of Kailo in southwest Finland, the Moomin World Theme Park is open daily from mid-June to mid-August.
  • Finland has more forest than any other European country and it covers 74% of the entire country – that's an area larger than the UK or Italy.
  • Angry Birds originated in Finland as well as Nokia's Snake and Clash of Clans.
  • The Finns love Salmiakki (Salty Liquorice) - and so do I!

Some pictures of the journey - mainly islands!

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