Sometimes the jouney is all that counts – yet some journeys, unfortunately, don’t count at all. This turned out to be one of them, as the plan was to support some of my favourite bands at Joensuu’s Unholy Winter Fest. The metal goods, howevwer, were frowning on me and I fell ill on the way up and all I saw was my hotel room.
So what remained was a gloomy train journey across Karelia and back in October under a grey rainy sky without a single beam of sunlight. Probably quite a tap into the Finish state of mind thogh. And I must say that the trip was nice and comfortable and I found the Finish people to be extremely nice and helpful.
VR, as the Finish national railwy is called, operates severeal daily InterCity services between the capital and Joensuu which cover the 440 KM journey in a little over four hours. The trains is aclassic engine/carriage system with a steering car at the other end. It features seats in Eko (2nd) and Ekstra (1st) class, a Café, children’s play area, luggage and bicycle racks as well was pet friendly compartments.
A return ticket in Eko class will costs around 50.00 €, if you book in advance on VR’s excellent english website.
The InterCity train departs out of the the Art Noveau grandeur of Helsinki Central heading north-east to the well-known ski ressort of Lahti. After that the route it turns almost due east, scratching the Russian border, turning north again behind Parikkala.
The train takes 10 stops on this service, yet this does make the landscape feel more populated than it actually is. Outside these towns the vastness of forests, birch groves, rivers, and hundreds of lakes is quite fascinating.
Joensuu station is a little out of town but you can easily walk from there to the famous Joensuu Town Hall designed by Eliel Saarinen in about 15 MINs.
I felt pretty bad by the time I got there, so I am afraid I did not give the charming lumber capital on the Pielinen River the credit it deserves and I do hope to come back one day!