Thursday, 15 October 2009

A Tahko Diary

Monday: Day 1...

On arrival at Helsinki airport we were met by … Taking full advantage of being in Helsinki we wandered around the city, taking in the unique architecture and structural design that can be seen around every corner. Home to the old and new, the history of the city is captured everywhere you turn. From The Old Church, described by its name, to the modern Temppeliaukio (Rock) church, beautiful in its own right, to the parliamentary buildings and senate square, to all the individual statues and monuments dotted around the city, each representing a little piece of history.

As we headed towards the habour, we stumbled upon the bustling Kauppatori Square, meaning ‘Market’ Square; Where rows and rows of stalls offering fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and fish and handmade crafts and gift line up along the waterfront. As well as the stands outdoors there is also the undercover market full of EVEN MORE fresh produce and traditional culinary delights!

After stopping for a customary kerelian pie (a Finnish savory snack, filled with either potato or rice) and a sneaky ice cream we headed to the Helsinki City Hall, where we attended a classical music concert. Helsinki is a city bursting with art and culture, promising something for everyone any time of year.

Early evening we were met once again where we then set off on the journey to Lakeford. In the luxury bus, complete with comfortable and spacious seats, tables and its own entertainment system the 5 hr drive to Tahko seemed to fly by as we relaxed with drinks, snacks and a movie! Once we arrived at the resort we were driven directly to our Villa which boasted every bit the luxury we had been promised. A huge living room with a fireplace, a great kitchen and dining room with all the amenities you could possibly need. Not to mention the double bathroom with its private sauna! Every last detail had been considered and comfort never compromised. A good night’s sleep was sure to follow!

Tuesday: Day 2…

After a hearty breakfast we decided to explore the grounds of the resort and its beautiful surroundings. Existing as an endless sprawl of forests, mountains and lakes it is no surprise Finland is known for presenting nature in its purest form and Lakeford sits peacefully among it all.

Once we’d finished our lunch we headed down the lake where two boats, complete with trolling equipment were waiting to take us fishing. After a short briefing we set off for an afternoon on the wonderfully scenic Lake Syväri with a professional guide. With a little healthy competition on the cards we were eager to catch as many as we could! 5 perch and 1 pike later it was time for a break as our private guide parked up on the shore of a nearby island. It was there we lit up the bonfire and indulged in a specially prepared picnic of hot coffee, tea and a selection of cakes! Then it was back out on the lake!

In the evening we went along to the Promenade restaurant, positioned right on the lakeside with a stunning view of the mountain above. During the winter when the lake is iced over and the mountain covered in snow, it was easy to see how the restaurant’s views are transformed but equally beautiful.

Wednesday: Day 3…

On our 3rd day at Lakeford it was clear the action and adventure wasn’t stopping anytime soon. After indulging in another delicious breakfast on our cottage balcony we were directed down the lake where we set off on a boat trip on Lake Syväri. The trip took place at a leisurely pace as we travelled along at a steady speed of 6 knots on a cruiser steered by an experienced skipper, taking in every bit of breathtaking scenery we could.

After our private tour of the lake we parked up on to the bank where we were met by two guys from Tahko Safari, armed with life jackets they gave us a quick briefing and pointed us in the direction of the vehicles. As we boarded our jet skis I was expecting to be led around the small area of water enclosed by the bridge and left to just cruise as we wished. However as our guide sped out into the open waters we unwittingly followed not realising we were about to be taken on the most fantastic and exhilarating ride. Speeding through the open water, the odd daring turn here and there, it is impossible not to acknowledge the endless beauty that surrounds you. Together with the feeling of absolute liberation it is an experience no one should miss out on!
Still reeling with excitement from our jetski adventure we were collected once again by the boat and taken to another island where a delicious lunch including wild salmon soup and a desert of warm Finnish squeaky cheese & Cloudberry jam was awaiting. Cooked and consumed out in the wilderness as we sat and enjoyed the peace and tranquillity the importance and beauty of nature was at the forefront of our minds.

When we returned to the resort we were pleasantly surprised to find the Ratasauna on the edge of the Lake had been fired up and was ready to use. With a huge living room and kitchen it is the perfect place to relax and enjoy with friends and when the sauna got too hot to handle we were a short run from the lakeside where it took no time at all to cool down!
In the evening we decided to take a relaxing stroll in the direction of town where we came across the very fancy El Monte restaurant! With an extensive wine list and a mouth-watering menu to accompany it we indulged in a delicious dinner and reflected on our day of adventure.

Thursday: Day 4...

On our penultimate morning we decided to set the alarms and venture out on an early morning bike ride to explore the corners of Tahko we hadn’t yet seen. Instead of the daybreak drizzle hampering our tour the light rain was freshening and I was able to see the Finnish landscape in a whole near light; Peaceful and untouched. On our outing we discovered The Tahko Spa a huge complex with everything you could possibly need; swimming pool, sports courts, gymnasium, even a tenpin bowling alley and for the less active Tahko spa offered a huge range of spa treatments. After last night’s dinner we decided a session in the gym is what we needed!

After lunch we were whisked away to the nearby Tahko Safari where we were clothed and briefed for the Shooting safari. We were kitted out with all of the necessary attire and talked through how to drive the vehicles then we set off in convoy. We rode on the ATVs to a shooting range located close to Tahko, where a professional shooting range supervisor welcomed us. After we were given the relevant instructions and of course the much needed ear defenders we started shooting. Each of us could shoot 5x5 shots at the clay targets with our own shotgun. It was a great experience for everyone and the winner of our group was awarded with a prize.
Aware that we were going to need all the energy we had for the rest of our safari we were then supplied with freshly barbequed hot dogs, juice and coffee before setting off again! Continuing up through the precipitous terrain of the Tahko mountains we finally arrived at The Muailman sauna, situated right at the top of the hill the views are magnificent! We immediately stripped off and jumped into our private chalet, equipped with a bucket of ice cold beverages then sat back and relaxed!

After the sauna we went next door to the Pehkubar restaurant where we feasted on smoke vendace toast, meat fondue and bread fritters with strawberry jam and whipped cream. Sat in the cosy restaurant with a mountain top view of Tahko; it was the perfect end to a fantastic day!

Friday: Day 5...

Day 5/5... we were up early reluctantly packing up our cottage and preparing for our departure from Lakeford. After one last breakfast out on the lakefront we said our goodbyes and boarded the bus to the airport. Luckily our Finnish adventure wasn’t about to finish just yet! Headed back in the direction of Helsinki we stopped off for a quick sightseeing session around Kuopio, including the Puijo Tower where we enjoyed a coffee and some cake in the revolving cafe. As soon as we had explored the area we jumped back on the bus and headed for the Olavinlinna Savonlinna. Once a medieval fortress, that withstood several sieges by the Russians, the castle is now a popular tourist haunt with several small exhibitions and most notably hosts the annual Savonlinna Opera Festival in the summer.

With one last stop to have lunch at the river side restaurant it was off to the airport and the end of our wonderful Finnish adventure.