To reach Finland from Germany without the long sea travel of 30 hours between Travemünde and Helsinki it requires crossing Sweden by car towards Stockholm which is quite a trip. So it comes handy to know nice places along the route to visit for a break. One of these places is the Löfstad Castle which is just some few hundred meters from the E4 at Trafikplats 117 (Lövstad). Close to the highway it is still a very quiet and nice place. The castle has a small park, that invites for a small walk. In summer there is a cafe in a flower shop and a restaurant. I stopped here already twice and like to return here as it does not require a long detour.
There are also guided tours through the castle, but up to now I havent participated in any. But let’s see what comes next trip… The castle belongs to the Östergotlands Museums. Check the opening hours prior to your visit!
Here some photos of the castle. ..
Almost in any national park or hiking area of Sweden and Finland you will come across these very helpful things called duck boards. Some people do a hard job to keep hiking in these partly remote areas so comfortable that you can admire the nature without any problems. I think I have been using these boards for more than 500 kilometers throughout my many hikes in Sweden and Finland. So it is a good time to say a warmly Thank You to all those who take care of duck boards. You do a great job!
Finlands most famous word, which became a lingual export, is the sauna. In Sweden the same thing is named Bastu. Using the sauna is a central point in Finnish social life. Imaging that statistics say that there is one sauna on two Finnish citizen. In the past cities had public saunas, which nowadays is not common anymore. There still exist some for example in Helsinki.
Many saunas nowadays are heated by electricity, especially in the densely populated city areas the original way using fire is not suitable. Electric heating often produces a hard strong steam when pouring water over the hot sauna stones. This is not optimum. My Finnish friends and me prefer the more soft steam from wood heated ovens. Fortunately there are plenty of them and especially when going for a cottage weekend you rarely find electric ones.
Wooden heated saunas devide in two principles: The “normal” sauna has an oven which continously can be filled with more firewood during the sauna session. The oven is relatively small as it does not have to keep the heat for a long time. Smoke is lead from the oven to the outside of the building. The other type of wooden fired sauna is the Smoke sauna. This is pretty rare to find. It has a huge oven with a lot of stones on top. The sauna room has no chimney. During the heating procedure the smoke stays inside the sauna room. Once the temperature is reached the room is opened to get rid of the smoke. Problem is that once in use, it is not possible to heat more. But due to the big amount of stones this type of sauna stays hot for several hours. At the beginning the steam is much hoter than in a normal sauna, later on it is a very smooth one. People like it the most but it is a lot of work. And dirty as the smoke stucks on the benches and walls.
Using sauna in Finland means that everyone stays in the heat as long as he wants. There is no competition. Its a place that people like to talk in. Some go for a swim afterwards, I just prefer to feel the cold wind on the skin.
You should try it!