Tuesday, April 9, 2019

It is very beautiful, certainly, but it is a very poor one

I WAS tempted to make an excursion from Helsinfors to Abo, a distance of one hundred and fifty English miles, in order to see a part of Finland which I had heard represented as a very beautiful country. It is very beautiful, certainly, but it is a very poor one. I saw only two mansions on the road, and they were nearer to Helsinfors than to Abo; the latter town having been formerly the capital of Finland, as the other is now. You see fir, beech, and mountain-ash trees, with alder and juniper plants, clustered together very picturesquely, forming glades, and crowning mountain-tops; and you have an eternal variety of small lakes, barren scaurs, and cultivated grounds. In spite of the abundance of water, we could find no fish to eat on our road; and there was only one decent inn, which was at Nyby, rather less than half way between Helsinfors and Abo. But when I speak of a good inn, my readers must not imagine that they will be received in a papered room, with sofas and tables, and a neat chimney-piece, adorned with fly-catchers in papers; —no, they will have to mount a small scaffold of steps, (for all the houses here are of wood, and built on an above-ground foundation of stone); you then enter a room which is unpainted, and the whole of the rafters stuffed with moss, to prevent the air from penetrating; the floors are clean, and you generally find a stove which keeps the whole warm.
Frank Hall Standish: Notices on the northern capitals of Europe. 1838