How to survive the Finnish cottage
Updated: Nov 17
Have you heard of the Finnish saying, 'Huitsin nevada'? It has nothing to do with the state in the US called Nevada. Roughly translated, it means, 'in the middle of nowhere'. Finns love these cottages, cozy second homes you'd probably wonder if anyone lives there because they're usually situated in the middle of nowhere.
Now if you've never been to a cottage before, take tips to heart to fully enjoy and hopefully survive the Finnish cottage experience. But don’t get us wrong, modern cottages have become rampant already throughout the years. Those luxurious cottages equipped with modern facilities and top-notch technologies. But to truly get that 'mokki' experience, it doesn't hurt to try these grammy's cottages known in Finland as 'mummonmökki'.
Getting there and away
These cabins are usually situated in the middle of nowhere. They could be in the middle of the forest, by the lake or sea and because the whole idea is to immerse oneself in full solitude and serenity, you probably won't see anyone else other than the people you're with during your stay. If you don't have a ride, ask the host how to get there. Wear comfortable hiking shoes and bring a survival kit in case you get lost. If you're driving, be sure to get your car a full tank of gas before leaving home. Finding a gas station in the countryside could prove to be quite challenging especially in June and July when almost everyone is on holiday.
A typical Finnish cottage is more likely a cabin, very modest but cozy. Sometimes there's no electricity, running water, and the loo is usually outside the cabin. It's usually a decent temporary living space with only a small sleeping corner that is often just the size of a closet. You might need to sleep on the floor or on a wooden sofa bed. It's best to ask your host what kind of place it is, what kind of utilities they have, and what do you need to bring. Usually your host will ask you to bring a towel, some bedsheets, and other personal hygiene products.
The loo is situated outside the cabin. You might feel a little uncomfortable using it, but it does its purpose and that's what's more important. Just make sure you do your part in keeping it clean so it won't smell bad.
If you use the loo, sit on the bench and do not squat. When you have called nature, throw dry litter which is usually kept in a bucket near the toilet seat. It's used to compost the waste. Don't throw non-biodegradables in the toilet.
Finnish loos can give you a homey and relaxing feeling, as you see the green nature outside your window while doing your thing.
It's unlikely to get bitten by a bear or wolf, but there will be plenty of bloodsucking and stinging guests buzzing around you. Horseflies (paarma) bite moderately, mosquitos (hyttyset), while they don't normally carry dangerous diseases as in tropics, but their bites can be nasty and might even cause allergic reactions, and ticks (punkki) are the most dangerous ones because they can cause borrelioosi or potty fever that can leave permanent traces in your body. It's important to check for ticks every night. Cover yourself with loose garments and preferably rubber boots when walking in the forest.
We all know that Finns go to the sauna nude. Sometimes sauna is open to both sexes but usually, they are separate places for women and men. They also swim butt-naked. The typical Finnish sauna is a small wooden house with a wooden fireplace near the water. Heating the wooden sauna takes about 1 hour until the temperature rises to 80 dec C. There's also a well usually near the sauna where the water is fetched and kept on a large container.
The water is cold which is why it is mixed with boiled sauna water. Foreign guests with long hair should be aware that the sauna water is fetched by the host. It's not the best time to wash your hair and body with three different types of shampoos, soaps and conditioners. Eventually you will run out of hot and cold water. Here are the simple instructions:
1. Go to the sauna and make your hair and body warm.
2. After that it is the best time to go for a dip in the water.
3. Apply the shampoo or shower soap in the sauna.
4. Wash your hair and body with the water from the well.
Food and water
Most cabins do not have a freezer but there's usually a fridge, because Finns loved their morning coffee with milk. The kitchen might be very basic, without a faucet. There's usually a bucket of water from the well or lake for washing hands and dishes, but drinkable water is bought or filled from a nearby shopping area. Yes, dirty dishes are washed the old fashion way by boiling hot water from the stove or grill. Don't expect to fancy and complicated cuisine, you will survive better with easy and simple meals that can be tossed directly to the grill.
Overall cottage experience
When you get past your first cottage experience, you will start to appreciate the simple Finnish way of cottage life. Summer is very short in Finland, which is why most Finns enjoy being in the countryside with nature. It's the perfect time to downgrade your lifestyle for a few days, have a break, breath a little from the busy city life, and enjoy nature.