Around the Bothnian Bay in three days, part 2

The second day of the trip started very early, but the journalists took the bus and headed to an icebreaker in Piteå Havsbad. The weather was quite bad, wet and windy, but it didn’t matter.  The winter has been unusually warm, so the river was not completely frozen. The icebreaker headed upstream the river where there was some ice to break.

The icebreaker stopped and hosts climbed the stairs of the icebreaker on to the ice. They set up a table with some warm juice to keep the guests warm in the windy winter day. The hosts pushed some snow away from the ice so that the journalists were able to float on the water. They put on these kind of ridiculous looking orange overalls that were made to keep the water out. The suit made people look and feel like a teletubbie. A leash was a put around the waist and from the edge of the ice, they slowly glided in to the freezing water. The first touch of the water felt weird, the suit sucked itself around the body and it was quite impossible to do anything but float. But afterwards the feeling was relaxing, like floating on a waterbed. The water didn’t feel cold, although gloves let the water through and made hands wet. One after another our journalists floated, even those who had decided not to and they were glad they had done it.

Looking ridiculous but feeling relaxed in the water. Photo: Olavi Joensuu

After the floating, the icebreaker headed back to the shore. Everyone were given a certificate of the icebreaking adventure, a nice memory to put on a wall. The journey continued and the bus headed to Töre in Kalix, the northernmost point of the Bothnian bay. It was time for the most feared part of the trip: tasting of surströmming, the local delicacy. It was served outside, because this fermented herring smelled so bad and the smell could have stayed on clothes. Served in a roll with onions, creme fraiche and a potato, the surströmming didn’t actually taste as bad it could have tasted. For some of the journalists the experience was a struggle, but some of the others had five rolls and wanted even more.

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Ann Mari serving surströmming, the foul-smelling fermented herring, which wasn’t bad after all. Photo: Olavi Joensuu

There was a yellow buoy sticking through the ice that people were traditionally supposed to run around as a sign of reaching the furthest part of Baltic sea. Group photos were taken sitting on the buoy and everyone ran around it. Yet another certificate was given. Afterwards another local delicacy was served, the Kalix Löjrom, vendace roe harvested specially from the Bothnian Bay area. It is usually served in the Nobel Dinner. Much better than the surströmming and it nicely took away the lingering taste of the smelly rotten fish.

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Posing for photos by the yellow buoy in Töre. Photo: Olavi Joensuu

It was time to cross the border. The weather was equally as bad in Haaparanta as it was in Tornio. The journalists walked across the border and were told facts about the Tornio-Haaparanta co-operation and the future of these two cities. But the schedule was tight as usual, so the hungry journalists had to rush back to the bus and travel to Kemi for a late lunch: hot mushroom soup on a table made of ice. The Kemi Snowcastle was impressive and . There were ice sculptures, hotel rooms and even a church, and so many different slides you could glide down. All made of snow and ice of course.

In the evening the group reached the biggest city of the Bothnian Bay area, Oulu. After a quick look at the city center, the journalists were taken to Maikkulan kartano, an old mansion full of feeling and old surroundings. Then it was time for the first sauna experience of the trip. And not just any sauna, a smoke sauna. First the ladies and then the gentlemen tried not to lean on the soot-covered walls, while they enjoyed the smoky and mellow warmth of the smoke sauna. After the sauna, Janne and Pauliina from the BusinessOulu hosted a nice, big dinner for the tired journalists and the enthusiastic chatter and laughter was only disturbed by Timo Kinnunen, who played few  impressive songs with the accordion.

Then it was time to head to hotel Eden where the journalists got some well deserved sleep before they headed towards Hailuoto in the morning.

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