Sonntag, 23. September 2012

Helsinki - September 2012

Helsinki is windy.

I was only in Helsinki for about 25 hours for two meetings but it was a learning experience for several reasons......

Firstly, do your homework on 'dog friendly' places.  Like Stockholm, Finland has some great outdoorsy places, but slightly draconian laws about dogs near food.  We got kicked out of an outdoor cafe.  And out of the restaurant in the airport (although the staff very kindly served us outside in the outer-bar area).  I have never been kicked out of an outdoor cafe or an airport restaurant!!!!  I talked to our hotel concierge about this and he explained that the regulations are very strict on this, although there are moves to have it changed.  If I had done my homework and read these sites on 'pet-friendly Finland' beforehand, it might have been a smoother trip:

Secondly, taking the ferry to Finland was an option I explored (Viking Line takes dogs), but I didn't have a place to put him whilst I was at my meeting.  And in any case I ended up requesting a late check out...., thirdly, consider researching pet baby-sitters.

Finally, do you homework with entry requirements!  There is freedom of movement  (of people) within the Schengen Zone, but customs officials should still check dogs and cats.  Fortunately (in this case) this does not always happen and there wasn't even a customs official on the desk when we landed in Helsinki.   I had sort of assumed that entry requirements within Schengen were the same and that all I needed was his passport with proof of rabies vaccination.  Actually, dogs need to be treated for tapeworm same as for entry into the UK.  I found this out after I got home and was researching....also, Norway has also introduced tapeworm treatment for movement between Norway and Sweden.  However - unlike entry into Finland or the UK which requires a veterinarian's stamp, you can administer the treatment yourself and sign a form 'on the honour system.'

The point is - check at least a week before you travel on the 'official' site.  The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs site still states there are no restrictions between Norway and Sweden but the Food Safety Authority has the updated information.  Similarly, is incorrectly states that no tapeworm treatment is needed between Sweden and Finland, but the their Food Safety Authority (sort of) clearly states that this is required.


Stockholm Archipelago

The Stockholm Archipelago (skärgård in Swedish), is comprised of over 30,000 islands and extends from central Stockholm out into the Baltic.  We went out to the island of Finhamn for some exploring.

The boat ride takes about 3 hours, but worth it for the views as it navigates through the island channels. Dogs have to stay on the bottom deck but that isn't a problem and all the boats have a snack bar and comfy seats.

Once we got to Finnhamn we did some hiking.  I have a pack from ToughTraveler that I have mentioned before, but at this point Fritz has so much energy he is good to go for a day hike.

General rules in the archipelago are that dogs are allowed off leash from end of August until around end of May but must be on-leash in the summer and in nature reserves.  All of Finnhamn is a nature reserve so I was being a bit naughty here.  Finnhamn is also home to a great restaurant and an organic farm.

Swedes love taking dogs on adventures.  Just remember a life vest!