Simon on Tramontana (F5+) and amusingly odd route
Gear to go
Diana leads Its the End of the World as We Know it (VS 4c/Fin 5-)
Simon leads Konna (F6a)
As I have mentioned numerous times before, stopping for donuts and coffee is an integral part of the day climbing in Finland, and our normal stop on the way to Haukkakallio has completed it's transition from nondescript ESSO station to brand-new and shiny ABC. ABC service stations have spread across the country like a rampaging wildfire of convenience supermarkets, cafés and petrol pumps in the last few years, flattening all competition before them. At first I was non-plussed by their emergence: the donuts are reliably ok, the coffee just fine; but their increasing monopolistic intentions are clear and I am now rapidly joining those who see their dominance as a bad thing. I had a pizza there for the first time on Thursday night and, frankly, it was shit.
I've decided it is just pointless being defensive about Finnish food culture any more, because it simply is appalling. If Berlusconi has ever got anything right, it is that Finland has bad food. And before any Finnish nationalists or foodies spring up to attack me, of course you can get good food in Finland. You can buy OK stuff from big or specialist shops. The supermarkets are much better than when I first came here in the 1990s and there are good restaurants in central Helsinki if you can afford them. But leave the city and the choice is burgers, pizza or steak'n'chips - possibly kebab if you are passing through a town with requisite Kurdish refugee family. That is really it. So when the company that is approaching a monopoly position in roadside food provision makes pizzas with tomato kethup instead of tomato purée, and with those crappy pickled mild chilis on them (much loved in cheap Finnish restaurants as an "exotic" addition to the normal "salad" made of shredded vegetables) soaked in brine, you just start losing the will to live. If anyone reading this is thinking of visiting Finland for a touring holiday, I suggest preparing yourself for lots of picnicking to avoid death by over-burger meal consumption, or just the depression that will stem from stopping at yet another ABC.