Monday, July 4, 2011

Tourism 1.5.1993

Further to my post on 01.07.2011 on Finnish Tourism, this FDC too is titled ‘Matkailu Suomessa’, issued in 1993. It was also a joint Nordic stamp. The theme was the same in 1993 and in 1995. I’ll tell you something about this FDC too. The stamp on the left depicts Naantali. The town was founded in 1443, so it celebrated 550 years in 1993. It is the fourth oldest town of Finland. It is one of the most important tourist centres of Finland. The most interesting tourist attraction for families with children is of course the Moomin World theme park. Naantali Spa Hotel is the largest spa in Scandinavia. Naantali’s medieval stone church is interesting too. The official summer residence of the President of Finland, the Kultaranta (Golden beach) estate, is also located in Naantali. Naantali hosts the traditional Sleepyhead Day carnival, in July every year. What is the National Sleepy Head Day? Well, National Sleepy Head Day (Finnish: unikeonpäivä) is celebrated in Finland on July 27 every year. Traditionally on this day, the last person in the house (also dubbed as the 'laziest') to wake up is woken up using water, either by being thrown into a lake or the sea, or by having water thrown on them. It is based on the story of the Saints of Ephesus who slept in a cave for some 200 years during the Middle Ages whilst hiding from persecution by Decius, the Roman Emperor at the time. In the city of Naantali, a Finnish celebrity is chosen every year to be thrown in the sea from the city's port at 7 a.m. The identity of the sleeper is kept secret until the event. People who are chosen have usually done something to the benefit of the city. Every city mayor has thus far been thrown to the sea at least once, but other sleepers have included the president Tarja Halonen's husband, Dr Pentti Arajärvi, the CEO of Neste Oil Risto Rinne, along with many writers, artists and politicians.
The stamp on the right depicts town Imatra. It is situated very near the eastern border. On the stamp you can see the Dam of Imatra and an Art Nouveau or Jugend style castle, currently known as Imatran Valtionhotelli, was built near the rapids in 1903 as a hotel for tourists from the Russian Imperial capital Saint Petersburg. The Borough of Imatra was founded in 1948 around three industrial settlements. In the course of the last 50 years, this amorphous group of settlements has grown into a modern industrial town dominated by Lake Saimaa, the River Vuoksi and the Finnish-Russian border. Imatra is situated in the southeast of Finland where it rubs shoulders with the Russian border. On the other side of the border - only 7 kilometres away from the centre of Imatra - lies the town of Svetogorsk. St Petersburg is situated 210 km to the southeast, Finland's capital Helsinki is 230 km away and Lappeenranta, the nearest town to Imatra in Finland, is 40 km away.
The River Vuoksi runs through Imatra and has resumed its rightful place as the recreational oasis for the inhabitants of the town. The river offers excellent opportunities for fishing throughout the year: in winter it is possible to go ice fishing as well as practise open water fishing since the Vuoksi never freezes completely, even in winter. Some of Finland's most beautiful jogging and cycle tracks hug the contours of the Vuoksi, and from the banks of the river bird watchers can observe dozens of bird species. The river is also suitable for swimmers. Additionally, visitors can explore the delightful nature around the Vuoksi following an electronic nature trail. The Imatrankoski Rapids are Imatra's most famous attraction, and travellers have been drawn to the rapids for hundreds of years. Imatra is also a border town which shares a frontier with Russia. The former industrial settlement of Enso (now the Russian town of Svetogorsk) lies just on the other side of the border, which means that Imatra and Svetogorsk are in the unique position as the only twin towns which gaze over the border between the European Union and Russia. Today, the concept of 'twin towns' is used to market the joint advantages offered by the two towns, especially to businesses which can operate on both sides of the border. Thank you My dear friend Ella for this pretty FDC.

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