Midsummer 2016: “Running City” in Savonlinna and cycling in Punkaharju

Life is good. And what makes it even better is when Midsummer and rare days with +25 degrees happen at the same time.

Time is cruel! Savonlinna is located just 4 hours away from Helsinki, but I’ve been there last time 7 years ago during our awesome bicycle trip with Tanya and Nadya.

I didn’t think twice when I got to know that “Running City” competition will be held in Savonlinna this summer. Why not to visit this beautiful town again, after so many years?

All the beauty is still there – Saimaa lake, nice embankments, many bridges and some hills, covered by pine forest. And the castle, of course!

This time I could afford staying in the center of the town, just there on the shore, which was a nice experience. There were plenty of holidaymakers in Savonlinna, so I felt myself on vacation too, even if this was just a longer weekend.

Unfortunately even staying in the very center didn’t save me from the anger towards Finnish city planning and management. Guess at what time the bus traffic starts on Sundays and holidays in Savonlinna? 13:30! WTF is that?

I don’t like using taxi and even more I didn’t like the price of it – 16 € for only 4 kilometers. Something is completely wrong there.

Anyway, the competition started and the day was hot. With the blue sky and the smell of hay!

It’s always funny to see other people, looking for something related to the competition :)

Checkpoints are located everywhere – in the most beautiful places of the town, in the charming industrial suburbs, in the cozy residential districts. You never see so much of the place as you do it with “Running City”.

My team ;)

A bit of new Savonlinna. Beautiful wooden library.

Believe me or not, this amazing place is located just next to the center of the town.

Our results in the competition were very poor, but it was fun anyway. And the picnic on the island after the finish was a very nice gesture from the organizers! I even dared to swim in the Pihlajavesi lake. A bit cold, but worth doing it.

I always forget that white nights are gray nights only in Helsinki. Just a little bit North they are much brighter. They remind me always the great times in Petrozavodsk :)

* * *

7 years ago, traveling in a train, I noticed that it runs on the narrow strip of the land, surrounded by water, for a long time. “I would like to cycle there” was my thought.

Dreams come true! I started from Kerimäki station and cycled until Punkaharju, where I made an extra loop for 10 km via Putikko.

The actual stretch of the road between Pihlajavesi and Puruvesi lakes was shorter than I expected, less than 20 km, but very spectacular and worth visiting it anyway.

Punkaharju ridge is amazing. Its raises up to 25 meters from the lake’s surface and it’s a nature protection area.

It’s more than stupid that car traffic is allowed to go through the area. There are too many cars for the small road and therefore it’s not possible to enjoy it being on the road. Fortunately I have a mountain bike and could afford some nice detours :)

I would highly recommend e.g. a loop from Syvälahti to Mustalahti. The trail is mostly easy, but scary (in a good way) in some places.

What a dilemma – bad food in a good place or good food in an ugly place? The food won this time.

Plenty of time before the train, so I went for and extra 10 km loop and found a place to swim (not in the photo, it was a private one and on the windy side).

What a good and unusual Midsummer! Not so much cycling as I would desire, but a lot of serious walking during the competition and a great time in a pleasant company on top of that.

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