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Journal for 23-06-2007 : Kemijärvi

I'm spending a beautiful warm sunny day off the bike in Kemijarvi. It really is in the mid 20s today, and I've spent much of it chatting to a French couple about cycling, travel and whatever.

So, a few more observations about Finland and Europe in general.

Ski Poles. As everyone in Germany and Scandinavia knows, it's not possible to walk anywhere without a sturdy pair of ski poles. The only exception is if you have with you a huge dog (always on a lead) to pull you out of whatever it is you might get stuck in.

There are lots of bike paths in Finish towns, but only the occasional cyclist. Almost as common are rollerbladers, who always carry with them, you guessed it: ski poles. And instead of a skating action, it's more of a cross country skiing motion they all adopt. This is where the poles start to make sense, because ice skaters rarely need to climb hills. It also makes sense of the bike paths. They might not be used much in summer, but I think they must become very effective and popular ski roads in winter.

Fins love to gamble. Most supermarkets have between 1 and 3 poker machines. And there are betting kiosks where you can engage in all sorts of keno and/or lotto type games. At least I think that's what's going on. For all I know they are ATMs and car registration forms.


I should mention Frank, a German cycle tourist from Dresden. He rocked into the campground at 10pm then put on a load of w
washing while he ate his breakfast. We chatted for a while, he constantly correcting my German pronunciations. (When I subsequently used those pronunciations on German and swiss tourists they were corrected back again to what I thought before I met Frank.)

Henk was cycling the way I used to work. With the aid of a huge bottle of coca-cola he found his most productive time was midnight till 4am, when there was no-one around to bother him.

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