If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good massage. Or facial, or pedicure, or just about any other form of pampering you can imagine. Except for Thai massages. Those aren’t pampering. Those are torture. A few years ago however, my love for massage was overthrown for a love of something bigger, something badder, something… steamy. The sauna.
In 2008, I had a unique opportunity to visit two friends of mine who live in the only place that’s colder than Canada (okay, not the only, but certainly one of): Finland. The three of us met while on exchange in Toulouse, France and bonded after realizing we all had French dictionaries propped front and center on our desks. At the end of 6 months, it was clear, we were destined to be friends for life.
After nearly 2 years of not seeing each other, I decided to make Finland the first stop of my European travels. I was coming in from India and was ecstatic for some quality time spent in formidable company. I arrived just in time for white nights, which meant no matter the time of day, the sun was out and the sky was simply stunning.
“Kuopio? Where is Kuopio?” Last spring, I was invited to Finland for a friend’s wedding in Kuopio, a city I knew only to be the home of the same dear Finnish friend of mine with whom I’d spent a semester abroad and kept in close touch ever since. Jumping for joy at the prospect of a return trip to Finland, a country I’ve grown to love, I sat down immediately and googled the location of my soon-to-be-planned trip. As it turns out, Kuopio is located in Northern Savonia, about 4 hours from Helsinki and is, apparently, the 8th biggest city in the country.
Having heard all about the quaint attraction of Kuopio from my friend, I was excited to have the opportunity to pay the city a long overdue visit, working it into a journey that included a stopover in Stockholm and Helsinki and continued with an epic 3 day adventure in St.Petersburg. As we pulled into the Sokos Hotel, our accommodation for two nights stay in Kuopio, the sun had set and we were all headed for a good night’s sleep before the festivities began. Waking up early Saturday morning for a quick run before my long-time friend said her “I dos”, I was shocked to be greeted by one of the most serene starts to the day I’d had in a while: