60.1699° N • 24.9384° E

Baltic Route / Week 1

A Finnish summer experience

During their first week on the Baltic Route, Luna and Achilleas travelled Finland from North to South and gathered an impressive first collection of stories to share. Among their favourites: being greeted by Santa Claus in person, fishing over tumultuous waters at the Swedish border, tasting artisanal Lappish beer (a special Road Trip edition), testing a driverless bus, discovering Helsinki with a top Instagrammer and exploring Finnish history in an augmented reality.

The Baltic Route started up North, in Lapland, close to the Arctic Circle, on a very sunny and warm summer day. And suddenly Santa Claus was there, standing next to Luna and Achilleas. A hallucination induced by the abnormal heat? Nope. Santa is for real! And a travel expert himself, he even provided advice to the Road Trip Project’s team.

Fishing like a Finn, was another great experience. The spot was beautiful: the Kukkollankoski rapids on the Torne river, at the border with Sweden. The catch proved challenging – you don’t become a pro just like that – but the fishermen there invited Luna and Achilleas to share their catch and taste the local “white fish” al fresco. They even awarded them a certificate!

In the neighbouring border city of Tornio, a new surprise awaited our travellers. At the oldest brewery in the region, they tasted an artisanal beer specially brewed for them. Now the Road Trip Project also has a beer named after it! Special thanks to the Tornion Brewery, which had almost disappeared some years ago and is now back and successful, a sound mix of tradition of innovation.

On the road to Helsinki, Luna and Achilleas crossed countless forests and lakes, and forests, and lakes.

Even in Finland’s capital city, they enjoyed walking through a lot of nature areas, some of them charged with history. They were shown around by photographer and Instagram pro Joonas, and they had a privileged encounter with Erkki Tuomioja, former Foreign Minister and the founder of Historians Without Borders, encouraging people to learn about – and from – history in order to promote peace and mutual understanding. They even witnessed history coming alive at Helsinki’s ancient sea fortress Suomenlinna.

And there was also a ride on a robot bus operating as part of a pilot project based in nearby Espoo, Finland’s second city and famous science hub. A pilot project about losing the pilot, so to say! Certainly one of the most advanced initiatives to unleash the potential of future public transport.

After one full week of exploring the past, testing the future and, first and foremost, enjoying the present in sunny Finland, it was time for Luna and Achilleas to say goodbye and prepare to hop on the ferry to their next destination: the Baltic States!

See also

Louis' final vlog

Back to his beloved Antwerp, Louis took the time to think about all the people he met and the places he visited, and came to his own conclusions about how Europe makes him feel…