Memory Lane – part 1

My first ever overnight stop in my van was at the ABC Service Centre just outside the town of Orivesi. These larger service centres are great places to stay, particularly if you need to buy more supplies, grab a pizza, or drop a deuce. Not to mention, you can conveniently fill up on water and fuel before heading out the next day. Just make sure to ask the manager if it’s ok to stay there overnight. Depending on the place, it’ll be ok, or it’ll be ok for a small fee, something like 10€. Anyway, it ended up being a good first experience. Apart from some teens on their motorbikes popping in for a few midnight burnouts in the massive carpark, the place was super quiet and I got in a very restful night’s sleep.

ABC Oritupa, Orivesi

Early the next morning, I headed off to Central Finland. I arrived at the beginning of my visit down memory lane when I reached Summassari, the location of a spa and rehabilitation centre where I’d worked for a while as a physiotherapist way back in 1991; and to say it felt super weird to now see it totally uninhabited after it had, I think, become bankrupt at some point, was an understatement. Seeing all the same places, the spa centre, the main building and restaurant area, and all the lakeside holiday cottages, now completely empty, I imagined being in Pripyat, the town outside of Chernobyl, which was completely evacuated after the nuclear disaster there. Being in this place again after some 30 years, especially in its current state, gave me a strong sense of melancholy, but it felt like it was very important for me to walk over this ground again once, as if I was getting the chance to put some old ghosts to rest.

The abandoned Summassaari Spa Hotel complex.

Prior to moving on from Summassaari, I quickly popped into the Stone-age Village area. It wasn’t open yet for the day, but I could still see some of it. I could also see how it seemed to be existing on life support. It just felt worn out, but somehow still clinging on to making a few euros from the few tourists bothering to now visit there after the demise of the spa centre. It just felt kinda sad.

As I continued on to my main destination of the day, Pyhä-Häkki National Park, I dropped by the country town of Saarijärvi, where I’d lived while working at the spa centre. It was crazy the parts that I remembered with crystal clarity, such as the athletics field and adjacent churches, while other areas were barely a familiar, but hazy blur in my memories. Still, I think it was good, just like with Summassaari, to also tread over the same old turf here.

Saarijärvi athletics field and churches.

And then I arrived at Pyhä-Häkki National Park to walk the Kotajärvi circuit, a 6.5km walk through some of the most amazing flora in all of Finland. In my next blog and video, I’ll be sharing lots of that hike with you, so I guess I’ll catch you again in that one.


Van Life on the Run – the Introduction

This is the beginning of my Van Life on the Run project. As I get started, I have no definitive idea where it’s all going to go, or for how long. However, I am approaching this new project with an open mind and a strong curiosity to simply get out there and see what I can see, and to share those experiences with you. Please enjoy this initial Van Life on the Run video where I introduce my old, new home on wheels, a 1997 VW Transporter Caravelle. 

I hope that you’ll come along with me on this journey, and support my efforts. The best way that you can do that is to simply subscribe to my Life on the Run YouTube channel, and, of course, to view, like and share the active lifestyle videos on it, be they about these new vanlife adventures, my long distance cycling, camino and running exploration videos, or any other more random ones that I might occasionally throw into the mix. Thanks, and I’ll catch you again in the next one.


P.S. If you’re interested, you can find out some more details about the Murole Canal, where this video was shot, via the following link:

The Road to Alcoutim

The camino adventure ahead of me was the Via Algarviana, a 300km trek across the Algarve region in Southern Portugal. The journey would start in the town of Alcoutim by the Rio Guadiana, which also acts as the border with Spain. From there I would head west going all the way to the magnificent cliffs of Cabo de São Vicente on the Atlantic coast. However, the journey to get me to the start line would actually begin in Helsinki, on the very first day of snow in the south of Finland. What a perfect day to head towards the sun!

After a couple of relaxing flights, with a 4 hour stopover in Frankfurt, I made it to Faro, where I stayed at the Baixa Terrace Hostel. I arrived right at dusk, and with my energy levels waning fast, I decided to just have a quick dinner and shower before hitting the hay. Despite being quite tired from a very long day of travel, I still awoke pre-dawn and had the chance to enjoy the magic of the full moon. And if that wasn’t enough, I was then gifted with an amazing sunrise, as I set out to roam the quiet early morning streets of Faro before catching the train to Vila Real de Santo António.

In Vila Real, I had a few hours to grab the most critical supplies for my upcoming trek. At the top of the list was a bottle of Beirão, my treat for the evenings when wild camping. I also scored 4 cigars to enjoy, one at the start, and the others to celebrate reaching each 100km marker of the adventure.

The bus ride to Alcoutim didn’t take too long, and before I knew it, I was at the start line, although I still had one night ahead of me at the local youth Hostel. This was perfect as it gave me the opportunity to explore the town a little bit, as well as to have a nice solitary moment of pre-camino contemplation at a café by the Guadiana. Am I really in Alcoutim now? With all the ongoing worldwide rona related travel restrictions not making this a very easy trip to organize, I almost had to pinch myself to be sure. Yes it was true, eu estou aqui! And early the following morning, it would be go time!

Be blessed,

As I stare at you,
I lose myself in your light.
A lunatic smiles.

‘Lunatic’ | Jyri Manninen