Saturday, 25 June 2011

Lappeenranta, Finland

Ahhh, I've missed this blog! I can't believe I haven't updated this for almost a month. I had a fantastic time in Finland, though. I had the perfect holiday weather as well - it was around +30 C every single day! I got to wander around Lappeenranta, visited my parents' caravan and had sauna by the lake Saimaa, ate lots of ice cream (they have so many different flavours available in Finland, how unfair! I wasn't too fond of the tar ice cream that my mum bought, though.. I got to try it but thought it was disgusting. I did like mango & melon, marshmallow, rhum & raisin, old fashioned chocolate and everything else I tried, though), spent an evening at the Linnanmäki theme park, rode trams in Helsinki, took tons of photos and generally enjoyed life. I won't miss everything being so expensive, though.. I thought England was expensive but Finland is even worse; it was ridiculous! :O

Lappeenranta is my old hometown. I was born there and lived there until I moved to Savonlinna for university, and then to England to live with Matt. There don't seem to be many nice postcards available of Lappeenranta - all I could find were horrible, tacky multiviews. I've only seen nice ones around Christmas time when the local energy company sends their clients these panoramic viewcards. They are supposed to be Christmas cards but they work perfectly well as postcards as well. ..except that they are always winter views. :p It's such a shame because there are quite a few very beautiful places in Lappeenranta. I guess it's the same with a lot of places all around the world, though. Anyway, I found this particular card in Helsinki, in the shop of Kiasma, the modern art museum. They had a number of similar cards - reprints of old travel posters. I might have to ask my sister to go see if there are any more left and if so, whether she could get me some. I really should have bought a few more. The picture here is an old poster, originally printed in 1958. It's an image from the Myllysaari beach. The colourful little huts are for getting changed before and after swimming. They used to be like this, individual, cute little huts but they have since been changed into more modern, bigger huts for several people. I can't remember when they were changed or if the old ones were even there when I was a kid in the 80's...

Lappeenranta is a city and municipality that resides on the shore of the lake Saimaa in South-Eastern Finland, about 30 kilometres from the Russian border. It belongs to the region of South Karelia. With approximately 72,000 inhabitants (31 January 2011) Lappeenranta is the 13th largest city in Finland.

Lappeenranta was originally formed around a headland pointing to lake Saimaa. In the 16th century, the market place moved from Lappee's old centre Kauskila to the current fortress headland. The first mention of Lapwes, as it was called, is in a privilege charter from 1542 that subjugated the market place under Viborg's authority.

The town was chartered in 1649 by Queen Christina of Sweden, legitimizing the trade in the then popular marketplace of Lapvesi. However, the parliamentary privilege charter and the coat of arms were attested in 1652 after the town layout by Erik Aspegren was affirmed. At the time, Lappeenranta was an important port for tar.

Between 1721 and 1743, Lappeenranta was the capital of Kymmenegård and Savonlinna province. In 1741 the battle of Villmanstrand was fought between the Swedish and Russian armies in the Russo-Swedish War of 1741–1743. The battle ended in a Russian victory. The town was pillaged, wooden structures including the provincial chancellery were burnt and the ecclesiastical archives damaged.

Lappeenranta is known as a summer city, mostly due to its closeness to the Lake Saimaa. In addition, its inland location means that summers tend to be warmer and winters colder than along the coastal areas.

The proximity of the Russian border is increasingly visible in the number of Russian tourists visiting the city. In fact, Lappeenranta is closer (211 km) to Saint Petersburg than Helsinki, the capital of Finland (221 km). The presence of Russians is noticeable by the many Russian registered cars on the streets and the use of signs in shops with Cyrillic letters.

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