By Fran Weaver, February 2015
A hand-picked group of leading travel bloggers from around the world have been touring and networking in Finland, helping audiences discover the country’s most exciting activities and cuisine.
Australian travel blogger Shane Dallas, who has visited 93 countries and written about many of them for his Travel Camel blog, visited Finland this winter on his first trip to the Nordic region. “My blog has the theme of adventure and ‘the road less travelled,’” he says. “For Aussies like me Finland really qualifies as an exotic country to visit.”
“It was great to find lots of snow as I expected, but what surprised me, especially in Lapland, was that I was strangely reminded of the outback of Australia, since in both places you can enjoy a wonderful feeling of space, solitude and silence,” he says. Both regions are also home to traditionally nomadic indigenous people, and Dallas was fascinated by the history of Lapland’s Sámi people.
“Another unforgettable highlight for me was seeing the Northern Lights. I’ve already posted some aurora photos, and many friends have responded that this is such an exciting thing to experience they’ve immediately added it to their ‘to do’ lists.”
Dallas was invited to Finland for the 2015 Nordic Bloggers’ Experience (NBE) programme as one of 47 leading global travel bloggers whose blogs in 14 languages reach an amazing 2.5 million followers every month. The bloggers sampled travel experiences around Finland and networked with 11 Finnish host bloggers and tourism industry professionals at Helsinki’s Matka Nordic Travel Fair – the largest such event in Northern Europe.
NBE organiser Inna-Pirjetta Lahti explains that this annual scheme recognises the rapidly increasing importance of travel blogs and social media as channels for marketing tourism services and destinations. “Bringing these top bloggers here helps to promote Helsinki and Finland – and also gives the hundreds of Finnish and foreign exhibitors at the Matka Fair a chance to get their stories told internationally,” she says.
Janne Zhu from China publishes a popular blog focusing on food and travel. In Finland the visiting bloggers have savoured local dishes including reindeer steak and baked salmon in mushroom sauce.
“Northern Europe isn’t the first option for Chinese travellers, but in my blog I’ll definitely highlight the great opportunities for adventure here,” she says. “Seeing the Northern Lights in the beautiful scenery of Lapland was very exciting, and I also loved driving the dogs on our husky safari.”
Zhu adds that her Chinese readers are also sure to be interested in Nordic design with its graceful simplicity.
The Grown-up Travel Guide, produced by British-born blogging globetrotter Andy Higgs, targets ‘post-backpacking’ mature travellers who seek both adventure and comfort. “Finland is a good destination in this way,” he says. “I’ve especially been surprised to find such excellent food here – Helsinki should be rated right up there with Copenhagen and Stockholm as a culinary centre.”
Other Finnish experiences Higgs plans to feature for his blog followers include a sauna at the Finnish Sauna Society followed by a dip in a hole in the ice. “Another pleasant surprise has been finding Finnish people who [are] warm and open once you break the ice – just like you need to break the ice to go swimming or fishing here,” he says with a laugh.
Janicke Hansen from Norske Reiseblogger (Norwegian Travel Blogs) feels that her fellow Norwegians have not fully realised nearby Finland’s potential as a holiday destination. “My blog is for Norwegian travellers who typically like to get out and enjoy active pursuits, and there’s really lots to do here,” she says.
Finland’s wintry highlights for Hansen have included a scenic snowshoeing trek and a helicopter ride, as well as a real Finnish sauna. Her blog already features images from a recent ‘rapids floating’ trip, where she drifted on her back in a watertight dry suit through the icy waters of the raging Pajakka Rapids in eastern Finland.
See also on thisisFINLAND
Shane Dallas (Australia/Dubai): The Travel Camel
Janne Zhu (China): Jia Jia Zhu
Andy Higgs (UK/Norway): Grown-up Travel Guide
Janicke Hansen (Norway): Norske Reiseblogger (Norwegian Travel Blogs)
Marko and Alex Ayling (California): Vagabrothers
Helena Gunnare (Sweden): Ohdarling.org
Nordic Bloggers Experience: List of participants
Matka Nordic Travel Fair
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