The next thing that makes a big impact on visitors coming to Finland in the summer months is the length of the days. The memories I have of my first trip to Finland, in the summer of 1997 when the weather was gloriously hot, are of me sitting in the market square at 7:30 in the mornings, under the shade of an umbrella, drinking coffee and watching people on their way to work. The sun, already high in the sky, penetrated through the umbrella to warm my skin. It was quite warm even though it was still early in the day. In contrast, I have sat out late at night reading a book by the natural light in the sky. At 11:30 pm, it is only just beginning to become dusk. The Finns, of course, are quite used to light nights, but I can never resist going for a walk at midnight, by the shores of a lake, along the banks of a river, or in the town square.
My greatest memory, and the one that will stay with me all my life, is the moment I stepped off the plane at Kuopio—my first visit to Finland. It was half past midnight and the sun was just beginning to set. The sky was a beautiful colour of puce pink with purple clouds. It was just an absolutely unbelievable sight and birds were still flocking to make their way to their nests. Half an hour later, the sun was up and it was definitely dawn.
One thing that astounds me (and all the foreign colleagues I know) is that the Finns often close the blinds as soon as the sun shines, winter or summer. They cannot have a room too bright!