Wednesday, 7 August 2013

On a steamship

When in Savonlinna (see my previous post here), you need to take a nostalgic steamship cruise to see a glimpse of Lake Saimaa, the labyrinth of 120 lakes and 14,000 islands.

The waterways used to be an important transportation channel for people and goods in our country, the most important of them being Saimaa, the largest continuous lake district in Europe.

A steam tugboat built in 1900.

The first major product was tar for the European wooden ship industry and later timber. Even today, rafts of logs are floated on the lake each summer. We happened to see a tugboat pushing a barge filled with timber.

There is a fleet of historical passenger steamships operating from Savonlinna in the summertime. You can make a cruise of an hour or two or pass the whole day on a trip to one of the several passenger harbours around Saimaa. You can even spend the night in a cabin of a steamship moored at the harbour. The day was most lovely so we decided to devote a couple of hours to admiring the Saimaa Lakeland from the deck of the more than 100-year-old SS Punkaharju.

How would you like this rock island for a lot of your summer cottage? No need to spend time in gardening.
Saimaa is one of the most popular regions for holidaying at a summer cottage in our country. Similarly to so many of our lakes formed by the latest Ice Age, it has both low shorelines and shores and islands of bedrock.

No one had ventured into building on this island, at least as far as we could tell.

The Finnish dream: to live in a town in a house by a lake. Note the sauna on the left.
Needless to say we concentrated on marvelling the scenery. We were lucky to have a local sitting at the same table and explaining about all the sights. A few of the fellow holidaymakers appeared to have their mind more on other things. They succeeded in consuming several pints of beer, harmlessly though, while we only had two cups of coffee with a piece of cake.

The world's only surviving tar steamship Mikko on the left.

Nevertheless, I’m sure everyone was most alert when the ship passed the Olavinlinna castle when returning to town. Then we glided by the museum steamships moored at the Provincial Museum and back to the passenger harbour. 

Next time we could overnight on SS Heinävesi. Or we could come to stay and invest on the below wooden beauty, twice as big as the photo shows. I have this fixation to sight B&B potential most everywhere so I later found out it was on sale. It is located on a boulevard by the lake and has four apartments and five studios. The owners could live in the two top-floor apartments. They could rent the smaller ones and studios to students during semesters and to opera visitors and other travellers during summer. Despite the price tag of €1.2M not such a bad idea for a group of friends or relatives having ties with the region.


  1. Ihanat kesätunelmat, tuolla ekalla aluksella olisi kyllä kiva päästä ajelemaan :) aurinkoa viikkoosi, vielä nautitaan lämmöstä, täällä varsinkin, kun nyt on kunnolla merikin lämmin.

    1. Meillä täällä etelässä mittari kävi tänään yli 29 asteessa, mutta alkuillasta alkoivatkin sadekuurot. Tämä kesä on kyllä hellinyt ympäri maan.

  2. Olisin halunnut olla mukana tuolla reissulla. Rakastan Saimaata, olen siellä kyllä mennyt kanootilla, mutten koskaan noilla laivoilla. Ei, nyt huijasin, olenkin mennyt, mutta vain muutaman tunnin reissun. Kaunista.

    1. Oli niin rauhoittavaa istuskella ja vain nauttia maisemista. Tekee jo mieli uudelle järviristeilylle.