At a tiny village in southwest Finland called Mathildedal, with a name that sounds right out of a Grimms’ fairytale, Petri the physiotherapist lives with his wife Sini. Every day, he steps out of his cosy home into a bucolic wonderland: a lovely countryside intimate to the Baltic Sea and in the midst of a national park; woods abundant with berries and mushrooms ready for picking; the seaside village houses; and sweet fresh air and nature’s calm that act as natural stress busters.
It would be such a dream come true to step into Petri’s shoes. Or join Linda and Niko (and their Chihuahua Helmi) at Utö the southernmost island of Finland, as they amble across the quaint hamlet and trace the spiral staircase of the lighthouse. Then there’s the mayor of Rovaniemi, Esko, who lives in a town from where, as per legends, Santa Claus goes around the world bringing gifts and smiles to children. Katja, who stays at Käplyä in Helsinki, does yoga with her boyfriend at her summer cottage as the sun sets.
This way, Visit Finland’s Rent a Finn initiative presents eight such nature-loving local individuals and families from across the northern European country. Residents of places such as Helsinki, Lakeland, Lapland or the Finnish archipelago, they are all waiting to host you and have you join them in their daily lives and livelihoods as they act as your ‘happiness guides’. Over three summer days, when the country is at its temperate best, your Finn-host will help you explore the surrounding flora and fauna and take in the country lifestyle.
As you live in pretty summer cottages and engage in activities such as sitting around a bonfire under the starlit night sky, hiking across breathtaking trails or fishing as a soft wind blows, you will discover what makes Finland the happiest country in the world for the second year in a row (as per the United Nations World Happiness Report)—its strong affinity with nature. And Rent a Finn is sure to help Finns spread the joy.
Interestingly enough, the initiative is free of cost—be it travel or accommodation—and it is based on a selection process where an individual, a duo or a family can apply by recording a (maximum) three-minute-long video introducing themselves, explaining their connection with nature and listing the reasons for wanting to visit Finland. A form also has to be filled and, then, based on both things, visitors will be selected and paired with their host(s). The applications are open until April 21, 2019. The travel will be for three days between June and August depending on the host. Visit rentafinn.com to apply and know more.
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