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Puijo Hill in Kuopio is only 490 feet (150m) high, but is one of the tallest in the area. Three observation towers have been built there since 1856, with the current 246-ft (75m) tower providing spectacular 360° views of the Saimaa Lake system. Ski jumping also has been popular on Puijo Hill since the late 1800s, and several World Cup ski jumping competitions have been held there.

Lying 130nm directly north of the Saimaa Canal at 62° 53′ N, Kuopio was the most northerly stop for Dirona on our Saimaa Lakes trip. But it’s far from the most northerly navigable point in the Great Saimaa Lakes system. That honour belongs to the village of Vierema, another 65 miles north at 63° 44′ N.

We spent two nights in Kuopio, where we enjoyed the views from Puijo Tower and explored the town. We also got to spend time with long-time Finnish blog readers Paivi and Markku Kankaala, who met us in Kuopio on their boat.

Below are trip highlights from June 9th and 10th en route to and in Kuopio, Finland. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

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The Saimaa Lakes scenery is impressive, especially in such clear and calm weather.
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Spitfire enjoying the morning sun and lake scenery underway.
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The 1904 steamship Leppavirta is one of several historic steamships offering passenger cruises on the Saimaa Lakes region.
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Passing under the highway 536 bridge.
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The water still is thick with pollen.
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Approaching Kuopio
Approaching Kuopio, the most northerly destination of our cruise through the Saimaa Lakes region. With a population of only 120,000, Kuopio surprisingly is Finland’s ninth-largest city.
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Moored for a couple of nights at the Maljalahti marina in Kuopio. The red buoys are to maximize space in the marina—during the busy season boats typically moor bow to the dock with the stern end tied to the pylons, similar to med-mooring. Dirona is too big and heavy for that, so we needed to work our way between the buoys in order to side-tie along the dock. Because we’re effectively using three of their end-tie slips, we were charged for all three. But it’s still a reasonable price and Dirona is more secure that way. When we left a couple of days later, the dock behind us was empty, so we could just back straight out.
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You can tell we are close to Russia—the non-Finnish menu at Sampo is in English and Russian.
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Vendace, or whitefish, is extremely popular in the Saimaa Lakes Region and Sampo is one of the best places to try it. We had a delicious lunch, both having their specialty of “Fried Vendace a la Sampo”.
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Kuopio Cathedral
Neoclassical Kuopio Cathedral, built of stone, was completed in 1815.
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Kauppa Halli
Kuopio’s classic Finnish indoor market Kauppa Halli has been beautifully restored, but isn’t open on Sundays, so we couldn’t see inside.
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Kuopio City Hall
Kuopio City Hall dates from the late nineteenth-century.
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Muuntamo No 149
Muuntamo No 149 by Tulay Schakir on the City Hall property was commissioned to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Kuopio Energy, who gave it to the town. Muuntamo means “sub station” in Finnish and the name reflects the station that once stood at this location. The work reflects the light that electricity produced.
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A branch of the US office supplies retailer Staples way out here in Kuopio seemed incongruous. But it shouldn’t be, they do business all over the world.
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Walking through a spruce forest on our way to the Puijo Tower.
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Puijo Tower
The 360° views from the top of Puijo Tower are spectacular. This is looking north across the lakes.
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Dirona at Maljalahti marina in Kuopio, viewed from Puijo Tower.
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Ski Jumps
Looking down to the Puijo Ski Jumping Hills from the Puijo Tower. The largest two most prominent are the K-120 on the right and the K-90. The K-120 is used for for World Cup events.
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Inside the Puijo Tower are fabulous photographs taken from and off the tower and surrounding area. We (well, Jennifer) are quite interested in returning to Finland in the winter and this was quite enticing.
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We climbed up to the top of the K-65 ski jump and it’s amazing how steep it is at the top. Here we are looking out across the top where the skiers get aligned with the hill and then release to shoot down to the jumping point.
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Looking Down
To get a perspective of what it’s like to stand at the top of the mid-sized ski jumping hill and get ready to let go, I stood at the top of the track. Here you can see two runs for skiers. The one on the right is a special design for warmer situations. This track is a low friction plastic with water running down when in use to further reduce the friction.
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Base of Jumps
Here we’re standing in the run off area of the large K-120 ski jump at Puijo. World Cup ski jumpers land on the steep slope directly in front of us. As big as this jump is, the largest in the world is a K-200 jump where the record jumping distance was just a bit more than a quarter kilometer when we last checked. To the right of the large K-120 is the K-90, and next over is the K-65 we climbed earlier. Rightmost is a much smaller K-28.
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Fiat 500
The iconic Fiat 500 was produced from 1957 to 1975 in a single generation. Through this era, they sold 3,893,294 units. This car is powered by a 500cc 2 cylinder engine producing 13 hp. Few cars enjoyed such a long production run and nearly 4 million is an impressive sales result even by today’s standards. This particular car is in excellent condition with no rust and a good coat of purple on all exposed metal inside and out.
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We could see this large sports field from the Puijo Tower and stopped in to check it out on our way back to town. It was a Pesapallo field, a fast-paced ball-batting game very popular in Finland.

Pesapallo is similar to baseball but with several key differences. One is that the ball must bounce within the playing field after it is hit, so a high hit beyond the field that would be a home run in American baseball would be a foul in Pesapallo. Thus the playing field is much smaller than a baseball field.

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Evacuation Monument
Memorial unveiled in 1989 on the 50th anniversary of the Winter War, when Russia invaded Finland.
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RIISA, the Orthodox Church Museum of Finland, has an excellent collection depicting Orthodox history in Finland. The museum isn’t open on Sunday, so we couldn’t visit on our way past.
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The sculpture KEKO by Pauno Pohjola was installed outside the Kuopio City Tax Office in 2014.
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Oksapoika is one of seven sculptures Kuopio commissioned Pekka Kauhanen to create for their new pedestrian mall. The sculptures are inspired by the woodland legends of local mythology.
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Pancho Villa
Resting our tired feet with a drink on the patio at Pancho Villa.
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Several bars and restaurants with large outdoor terraces line Kauppakatu, Kuopio’s main street.
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Wanha Satama
Dinner on the patio at Wanha Satama with an excellent New England IPA from Kuopio brewery Fat Lizard.
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Enjoying the evening on the back deck from our berth at Maljalahti in Kuopio.
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Summer Quilt
It’s been so warm recently that we switched from our heavier quilt to a lighter one. We haven’t had the lighter one out since the east coast of the US in 2016—the weather just hasn’t been very warm. But with the temperature in the 80s during the day, we’re too warm at night.

We keep the quilt and other spare bedding in large Space Saver Vacuum Storage Bags. The bags don’t hold their seal forever, but they do allow us to get the package small enough to stow away in a small space under the guest stateroom berth. Then the weight of the mattress will keep them reasonably flat.

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Paivi & Markku
Longtime blog readers Paivi and Markku Kankaala live in Ii on Bothnian Bay in Lapland, part of northern Finland. They keep a boat at Savonlinna in the Saimaa Lakes region and caught up with us in Kuopio while out cruising. We very much enjoyed meeting them both and had a great time with them over lunch in town. In fact, we had such a good time over lunch we had dinner with them as well that night at Isa Camillo.
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Paivi and Markku are very interested in Nordhavns, but currently have a 60ft Sunseeker they received in exchange on a business deal. We’ve not been on a Sunseeker before—the interior is light-filled and spacious, and the whole layout was quite appealing.
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Snowmobiling is very popular here in the winter when the lakes freeze over. We see all kinds of markers that look a bit like navigation marks, but actually are delineating snowmobile tracks.
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Isa Camillo
With Markku and Paivi Kankaala at Isa Camillo in Kuopio—an exceptional meal in great company.
Show locations on map Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.

On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.


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