November 18, 2005

Koli conference begins

After 18 hours of travelling, I was pleased to arrive in Koli up in the northern Karelia region of Finland, especially as there was a thin layer of snow on the ground. The temperature was well below freezing and my body was just happy to have a shower and go to bed. I was very hungry as the only food I had eaten all day had been on the flight: KLM food, what more can I say? My housemates had advised me to bring instant noodles, but I hadn't, and even if I had there was no kettle in the room — some of you know what I mean!

I woke up early, very hungry, and I was one of the first up for breakfast. I had half expected (and half hoped) that we might have had some special hot continental breakfast. As I think Karl Popper would agree, learning only occurs when something unexpected happens. I have learnt that you should never underestimate the Finnish need for bread and cheese at any time of day. However, I did manage to brew myself a half decent cup of tea — with milk! I also discovered some warm porridge which, when taken with tea, was enough to start my day. I ate breakfast overlooking the trees and lakes surrounding Koli. This is one of the highest places in this region and, on a clear day, you can see trees all the way to the horizon. When I went back to my room and opened my curtains, I discovered that I had a lovely view too.

The view from my hotel window first thing on Friday morning.

The morning session of the conference passed quickly with some excellent talks, and I was ready once again when lunchtime arrived. I am not really sure what it was that I ate, but it involved mash potato and salad. After my carbohydrate fix, I set off in the cold to walk up to the summit of Koli, just a short walk from the hotel. It was particularly pleasant even with the small amount of snow that was covering the trees. My hands were a bit cold as I didn't bring any gloves, so when I got back to the hotel I had to buy a pair, also at great expense.

As I walk through the trees towards the summit of Koli.

The afternoon session was long, and unfortunately my presentation was the last of the day, by which time everyone was getting quite sleepy. I think a few people were conscious for a few moments of the talk. Anyway, after that it was dinner, which was another feast of carbohydrates for us vegetarians. My main course consisted of potatoes, swede and carrots, with a tiny amount of sauce that appeared to be the leftovers from the mushroom soup we had for starters. Warwick people: I am dreaming about eating rice with you on Tuesday already!

The famous Finnish landscape from the top of Koli.

After the meal though, we went to do what Finnish people do best: saunas. I discovered that there are as many saunas in Finland as there are women. I spent an hour moving between the hot sauna and the cool jacuzzi — it was great. Most people were drinking beer, but I was happy just to enjoy this chance to relax. After my body was completely shrivelled I retired to my room for the night.

- 2 comments by 0 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. pppppp

    I was gonna write about the skating place in Someret House (in London). After I saw those pictures christmassy trees, I start to feel ashamed about the wintery London amazement earlier.

    I vote the 'room with a view' picture the most beautiful one in your blog.

    Enjoy the rest of your trip!

    19 Nov 2005, 00:42

  2. hema

    Sounds cold, sounds distant, sounds peaceful…looks amazing! The lack of good tea not a problem, switch to coffee…its all in the head! Rinse it out…


    19 Nov 2005, 11:19

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