27 Apr Holiday on Lake Saimaa’s shore
18TH – 23rd October 2016
At the end of October 2016 a group of 14 senior and a tutor went to Savonlinna to test the destination for the European project DiscOver55.
The pilot test group left Florence early in the morning to Helsinki by a Lufthansa flight, we were enthusiastic and enjoyed the experience traveling together to test the Savonlinna tourist offer.
We left Helsinki to Porvoo where we stopped to visit the town, with a stop to the church, and a walking tour along the typical streets of the town.
The group arrived in Savonlinna at 6.30 pm and was lodged by the BW Spahotel Casino.
The group in front of BW SPA Hotel Casino
Next day, the program was intensive too. At 10 am we met Mr Timo Auvinen, a professional guide, and also the chairman of the local tourist association, he guided the group visiting the town of Savonlinna and spoke about the history and reasons for which the Olavlinna Castle was built. By the castle we met a pretty Italian speaking lady who guided us inside the castle. All the participants reached the top of one of the towers and enjoyed the landscape. After the Castle’s visit we continued the tour visiting the Riihisaari – Lake Saimaa Nature and Culture Centre.
During the afternoon the group visited the local Italian language school class for adults, giving a presentation of their home city (Pisa) and discussing in Italian with 6 ladies studying Italian. Mrs Liisa Kärkkäinen was the Italian teacher, who was proud to give her students the opportunity to test their Italian level.
Paivi, the Savonlinna Tours manager, also organized a Chamber Music Concert. It was an unusual and also amazing experience.
The third day was free, and the Italian tutor, Giancarlo, organized a walking ride on one of the island nearby the hotel. All partecipants appreciated the tour, it was easy and at the same time an opportunity to have an idea of the nature of the Savonlinna Lake.
The Nordic Walk across the Forest in Lake Saimaa
The group never imagined that Paivi had organized a very amazing late afternoon entertainment, she gave them the opportunity to watch a Finnish show. The actors spoke only Suomi of course but they were so skilled that they understood what they were reciting. The organization was perfect.
On the fourth day the group had a full day excursion at the National museum and Science Center of Lusto, dedicated to the Finnish Forest, all participants appreciated this visit and the explanations that Timo gave. The room of silence and the Hall dedicated to “the time of the Machine” involved the visitors and gave the exact idea of what the Forest is for Finnish people. After this interesting visit we went to the Hotel & Rehabilitation Center in Kruunupuisto, a lady guided the group for a Nordic Walking Tour in the Punkaharju ridge area. The group experienced a very relaxing moment standing outside on a terrace lying in silence in sleeping bags for about 10 minutes, it was a special treatment that was also used for people suffering from asthma.
After lunch the group finished the excursion visiting Kerimaki church, one of the biggest wooden church of the world.
The fifth day was the most memorable, the group started the program with a boat cruise on Saima Lake, than Paiivi gave us the opportunity to visit her home and this was the reason why people fund this day memorable, because all of them felt like Paiivi let them enter in touch with Finnish lifestyle. Paiivi organized a picnic lunch by the fire next to a cozy cottage by the lake shores down the forest, they tasted Muikku, superb smoked salmon, sausages and good wine and beer. The atmosphere was warm and casual, the group met also Paiivi’s friends helping her to make the picnic, everybody enjoyed this special experience.
On the boat across Lake Saimaa
In front of Paivi’s house
On the last day the group left the hotel early in the morning and during the journey to Helsinki Airport all the participants were talking about the tour and how to develop programs to show other seniors friends the city of Savonlinna and the surroundings and to let them know that going to Finland is interesting and easy to explore.