Friday, June 15, 2012

Nuuksio National Park

We were so fortunate to be invited to explore Nuuksio National Park with a really cool Finnish couple last weekend. Eija, seen here on Rob's left (camera left) was a Distinguished Awards in Teaching participant with Fulbight two years ago in Washington DC.

Nukksio with Eija

Nuuksio was one of the places on our Finland "bucket" list so we knew we would eventually get there. But seeing it with Finns who know their way around (Olli Pekka is an arborist to boot so he was able to tell us about the trees and plants we encountered on the walk) was a special treat.


My kids are great hikers--they all started hiking as soon as they could walk.  So we have always taught the kids be mindful hikers:  stay on the trail, don't pick wildflowers, leave nothing behind...

Blue trail

They love to find and follow the markers for the trail we are following. 

walk in Nukksio

...but in Finland, "Everyman's Right" (freedom to roam) means that you don't have to stay on the trail and it's actually okay to pick flowers, berries and mushrooms (as long as you know they are not endangered, poisonous or in someone's backyard).

And the forest floor in Nuuksio is covered with low-growing blueberry plants.

blueberry plant

So in late July when the blueberries are ripe, visitors to Nuuksio will be able to pick thousands of berries as they hike. I'm so jealous and I'd love to visit again in July, but I doubt we will get back there!

Sam at Nukksio

It started to drizzle just as we approached the shelter where we were going to have a Finnish style outdoor meal. As soon as we reached the shelter, it poured!

Eija and Sam
Eija and Sam soaked from our dash to shelter!

Apparently, we weren't the only ones who planned on "grilli" for dinner!


So after watching the hail come down from the safety of our shelter, we decided to head back to Eija and Olli Pekka's home for grilli and Finnish pancakes (yum!).

dinner with family

I'm not quite sure what was better...the delicious dinner, or the fascinating conversation with Eija, Olli Pekka and Leeza (their daughter who is studying political science in Lyon, France).

I really hope we will have some Finnish visitors in Chicago in the next few years! I can't wait to repay the wonderful hospitality we have been shown since arriving here.

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