When I first reached Oulu (in all that snow!) and asked anyone what is a nice thing to do around Oulu they would suggest a visit to Hailuoto Island, but with a caveat…wait till Summer. There is a nice sandy beach and in Summer there is lot of greenery and its very beautiful…hmmm…it sounded like a must visit! Lot of bird watching also since migratory birds stop here on their way back home!
A pleasant surprise when the Jouni and Tero suggested that they wanted to show us Oulu countryside and the place they chose was Hailuoto Island!!! And on a Monday…even more exciting!!!
Hailuoto means "Shark Isle". There are no Sharks! but why it is called that I STILL haven't been able to figure out. Even Google wasn’t able to answer this one!!!
The island is accessible by ferry year round. In Winters, the sea ice thickness reaches 40 cm and then you can DRIVE the car OVER the ice!!! That would have been interesting…as it is I couldn’t get over walking on sea…imagine DRIVING on sea!
But even in early May the ferry ride itself was very nice. It felt like a trip on an ice breaker crushing large ice floes. So I saved the *** euros that you need to pay for a trip on the Sampo Ice Breaker! This is a pic of the ice sea taken from the ferry as it breakes through the ice!
We drove right across the beautiful island to the most western point called Marjaniemi. There was a small exhibition there about the island. Its actually a very young island which came into being in the medieval period as a result of a rise in the level of the land. The island is continuously expanding and in a couple of hundred years it will be a part of the continent!
Some stuffed birds and salmons…I had seen these in Rovaniemi also and thought that they were fakes, but I was told by Jouni that they were real!!! Yikes!
Lunch at a restaurant there…I felt this could be my opportunity to try the traditional Finnish food as I would have the locals to help me out. But there was this fixed menu and the vegetarian option was vegetable au gratin. Unfortunately not terribly Finnish, but made well.
Fixed menus – a main course, some side salad and a drink- makes me want to mention one more thing. This is the ONLY place in the world that i have seen adults – men and women drink MILK at lunch time!!! Milk is the drink option with the food here. No coke, Fanta etc!
After lunch we decided to walk along the beach. It was kinda funny as in some places the snow still hadn't melted and since it was still a bit chilly and windy so we were all packed up with jackets and caps…it was like a contradiction…walking dressed like that through snow to go to the beach!!! The sea at the back is still a bit frozen…maybe another 2 weeks till it melts completely.
The Finns love their coffee breaks. In office itself, Tero was like I am prepared for our picnic today as he took a coffee mug out of his pocket! the plan was to stop off at a cottage and make a fire and enjoy the coffee and doughnuts.
That's another great thing. There are these cottages all over the island, where one can just go and use (for free). You can make a nice fire and just relax there. No need for bookings, if too many people land up, the accepted rule is FIFO. Its OK to camp there too. If I am here in Sept, this would be an ideal place to hunt the Northern Lights!
This was an interesting sign that we had seen on the way. When we reached this place it seemed very quiet. Even when we parked the car no one came out or anything. We ventured out and into the persons backyard, where we actually saw some reindeers.
But the place had this eerie atmosphere…I had this feeling, that this guy is gonna come out with a shot gun and shoot at us for trespassing! Maybe it was the after-effects of doing a project for the Mexico factory!
No one around, very very quiet place …and then we noticed a key in the back door. Probably the owner had gone out. Now I agree…this is one helluva safe place!
But this also meant…We couldnt buy the reindeer ;-)