Finally, an all-asphalt road to Salla, Finland


The last 15km long dirt and gravel section of the Alakurtti to Salla (Finland) road has finally been covered with asphalt. The ceremony of opening the road took place yesterday. Travel between Kandalaksha and Finland is now even easier.

Back from Finland


Oulanka National Park, “Small Bear” trail, Finland

As of recent I’ve been made to do considerably more hiking than I’d want to, both in Russia and Finland.

Comparing the two, Finland is most definitely better equipped for this sort of pastime, with lots of trails complete with conveniences that include huts where one can stay overnight, with firewood supplied. more >>

Russian-Finnish cross-border trade is down by 1/3

russian-finnish-borderB-port reports that in January-February of 2016 the value of goods transported across the Finnish-Russian border dropped by 35.2% in value compared to the same period last year. The reason is mutual sanctions. For an average non-commercial traveller that means fewer lineups at the border-crossing points. For us, making a living off traveller support, on the other hand, that explains why clients are few and far between these days.. Guess it could be a good time to announce a “beginning of the season” special at $100/day for my humble services, back to the mid-90s rate.

An overview of Finnish policy towards Russia

Here is a Foreign Policy article I’ve stumbled into, How Finland Became Europe’s Bear Wisperer by Reid Standish, with a comprehensive yet comprehensible overview of how Finland managed to retain functional relations with Russia while remaining on the “western” side of the line. Recommended to anyone with an interest in the Russian-Finnish politics and Russia’s relations with its smaller neighbours. I confess that in my radical younger days I considered Finland’s policies “wimpish” but am now close to recognizing the wisdom of this country’s collective mind.

A fine for expired metamizole in auto’s first-aid kit

first-aid-kitFinnish custom officials fined a couple crossing the border to finland at Salla an equivalent of $20 for having a few tablets of outdated metamizole (a very common analgetic in Russia) in their car’s first-aid kit.

Apparently expired medicines are legally classified as “hazardous waste” in Finland, with all the consequences.

Guess all that Syrian migrant business made the normally calm Finnish border patrol guys irritated and over-zelous in performing their duties.

Story found at

More on Middle Eastern refugees travelling to Finland via Kandalaksha

Here is a fresh Vesti TV report on Middle Eastern refugees travelling to Finland via Kandalaksha:

It is in Russian but the key points are:

more >> on Mid-eastern refugees in Kandalaksha. Fame in Russia and Finland!

refugeesNoticed an article on the flow of Eastern (Syrian, Afghan, North African etc.) refugees trying to get into Finland via Kandalaksha on the site of, a major Federal-level monthly. We are becoming famous! The only sad thing is that I’ve had not a single request to act as a “guide” – a job that pays, according to Snob, $1500 per trip. Only a couple of accommodation request from people with Middle Eastern sounding names that didn’t show up anyway.

Full article here >>

Middle-Eastern refugees in Salla and Lotta

border-crossingAccording to there is two groups totalling several dozen refugees from Afghanistan, Nepal, Iran, Iraque, Syria etc. stuck at the border crossing points of Salla and Lotta between Russia and Finland.

After the ban on bicycles crossing the border by the Finnish side migrants are buying cheap used cars in Russia to get over to Europe.

Still, with temperatures around -25C sleeping in cars is no fun.

Hans Schaaning and the history of Pasvik

hans-skonningA book about Hans Schaanning, the Norwegian ornithologist who lived and worked in today’s Pasvik Reserve territory, was recently printed by the Pasvik Reserve.

The book is in Russian and English (starting from page 139), and it can be found online at

Recommended to those interested in Pasvik’s origin and its birds, as well as general history of the area.

The Saami site upgraded and is now available in a bunch of languages

saamiHere is the new upgraded Saami Council site in English, Finnish, Norwegian, Russian. And, of course, Saami.

See posts tagged “Saami” for related materials. Also check under the Lovozero category for the Saami related materials.

Sign up for a trip to Lovozero with me as your driver and interpreter. The cost of an overnight trip from Kandalaksha for a group of 3-4 is about $500.