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Come to Sweden and enjoy the views (of Finland!)

The second edition showing a view of Finland from Sweden.

Why else visit Sweden than to enjoy the views of Finland?

Our arrival in Oulu in mid-September 2000 came via a rather long car journey. We took the ferry from Newcastle to Gothenburg, successfully went the British way around the first Swedish roundabout we came to and then drove north towards Haparanda in our right-hand drive 1987 Saab 9.3. For long stretches of road we were mesmerised by vast oceans of forest, and all that in a car with a broken radio/cassette. Small talk was pushed to the limit, games of I-spy were exhausted but, with the help of The Rough Guide to Sweden, we took many detours.

Camping here and there we soon realised that the summer season was well and truly over for the locals. Only a few retired people in their cosy mobile homes shared the campsites. The English couple in their little orange tent and old Saab were a strange curiosity. Night after night we were the only campers and we began to understand why when we woke one morning, peeped out of the tent and saw that the ground was covered in a thin blanket of snow - a hitherto unthinkable concept for us at that time of year. We’d had our first snow, but the birch leaves were still green. It seemed we had made the transition from mosquitoes to winter overnight, but it was still officially summertime and the campsites were on summer opening hours for a few more days.

After such an unexpectedly early experience of snow, we seriously wondered if we were doing the right thing in coming all this way to teach English. Nonetheless, we pushed on northwards, deciding on one last detour before crossing into Finland. We would visit the place temptingly pictured on the front cover of The Rough Guide to Sweden. That place was the Kukkola rapids where we got our first proper view of Finland. It was also then, as we stood on the Swedish side taking in the view across the Tornio river, that an irony became apparent. We had been looking at Finland all along on the cover to The Rough Guide to Sweden. The picture had been taken from the Swedish side but, beyond a stretch of fast-running water separating the two countries, it showed buildings in Finland. Come to Sweden and enjoy the views - of Finland! We noted the irony and pressed on into Finland real.


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