Finline 2007, Finland inline skate tour.
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Would Finland cross your mind when you think of a vacation on inline skates? Well, not mine, until I heard some enthusiastic stories of some friends who have skated there already. Since 1992, each year, the Helsinki Street Gliders organise Finline, an inline skate tour which takes you of a six day roadtrip through Finland. The concept is simple: rent a bus, book some accommodations and find a group of skate-crazy people.

The 2007-edition of Finline led us through the lake district in the South-eastern part of Finland. Bart, Wout, Angelika I myself arrived in Helsinki a few days earlier so we could explore the city, before going into the rural part.

The center of Helsinki is not very skatable. A lot of old cobblestone roads. However you can skate around the center along the waterfront. There is a smooth bicycle path. First we skated on the west coast to the Seurasaari Open-Air Museum. They've collected old buildings from all over Finland and put them on one island each within walking distance. Really worth a visit!

On our way back we skated along the east coast of the peninsula, where we passed the harbour. If you stay inside Helsinki, there is not much to skate. Get into contact with the local skaters for a tour out of the center. On Sunday we visited the Suomenlinna Museum island just south of Helsinki where you can see the old fortress.

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On Monday we met the other skaters from Finland, Sweden, France, Russia, USA, Germany and the Netherlands. The bus took us in the direction of Russia. Just 265km away from St Petersburg we started our tour on skates. The weather was excellent. The group was split up in smaller groups with people of similar speed. In six days we skated to our destination, about 460km from the start. The landscape was diverse: hilly roads through forests, flat agricultural areas and of course beautiful lakes.

The roads are a bit rough and at times very rough. So bringing speed skates is not a good idea, use a softboot. Around cities, you'll find wide bicycle tracks, but for the most part, you share the roads with the cars. Usually there is not much traffic, but since there are not so many roads, the major links between cities can be busy.

Each evening everyone went into the sauna, which is immensely popular in Finland. Every hotel has one. This is the place where you socialise, bring beer and some snacks. And die-hards change the sauna for a jump in the lake or pool every so many minutes.

The accommodation ranged from four-start hotels in a city, to converted holiday farms at a lake-side in the middle of nowhere. Even there, we did not experience one bug bite, but I guess we were lucky. A few times we got wet from a short shower, but most of the time it was very warm. The distances ranged from 70 to 108km and you should be in good shape to enjoy the tour.

Thanks to the Helsinki StreetGliders, Anna, Panu, Joha, Pekka, Johanna, the bus driver Kirsi, the foreign skaters, for a great trip!

(video: still to be published)

More information at:

Panu's wonderful report:



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Helsinki Cathedral
The main harbour.
Tall ship
Getting directions from a local skater.
Nice bicycle tracks. Mechelininkatu
Stopping at monuments.
View towards LauttaSaari Drumsö island.
Lots of watersports.
The entrance of the Open-air museum on Seurasaari Fölisön.
Skates are not practical out here.
Lonely bird.
Fortunately all signs are in Swedish as well.
A very nice place for Kayaking.
Midsummer pole
Water mill.
Karuna Church
Tar Boat.
Bicycle lane south of the center. Ehrenstromvägen.
South harbour.
Boat trip to Suumenlinna Sveaborg.
A military island
Fortress walls.
900 people are living here.
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Peter Nikkel