Posted by: Debra Kolkka | September 30, 2011

In Matti’s footsteps

My grandfather left Finland for Australia as a nineteen year old in 1912. He returned only once to Finland. In 1954 he sailed from Australia with his brother Eino to visit his family.
I am in Finland staying with my cousin Heli. She and her husband Mikko took me to some of the places my grandfather visited. Heli and Mikko live in Kouvola, about 140 kilometers north east of Helsinki. The Finnish countryside is looking wonderful just now. Finland is a country full of beautiful lakes and forests, now in autumn colour.
We started at a nearby church Matti and Eino visited with friends and family.



The next stop was the home of Matti’s sister. The lovely little wooden house remains almost unchanged since 1954.


We also visited the nearby Iitti Kirkko, a wooden church built in 1693. For obvious reasons not a lot of the old wooden churches have survived. The cruciform church has been renovated in 1913 and is looking very smart.


The bell tower is quite different in style from those I am used to seeing in Italy.


Benjamin Maatilatori is a food and craft market which operates from a working farm. There is a good selection of locally grown fruit and vegetables as well as meat from their own pigs. We bought some of the sausages made on the premises.



I think the vegetables below are a type of turnip.


My favorite rye bread rolls were on sale as well as some others unusually displayed on rods high above.



The market was in a beautiful rural setting. I love the brown and white buildings that are found all over Finland.



There was an all purpose shop nearby that has been run by 2 sisters for the last 43 years. As well as regular household supplies they had some very cute little bird houses for sale.


Our last stop for the day was the Russian church in Kouvola.



In the next post I will show you a Finnish barbecue where our sausages were cooked. It is nothing like an Aussie barbecue.


  1. Beautiful Finland! Do you speak a little Finnish? It’s nothing like any other language is it, or did I read it has similar roots to Hungarian? Love the bread hung up to dry, it looks much thicker than Swedish knackebrod. Looking forward to hearing about the barbecue too. (I don’t know what an Aussie barbecue looks like though….) Enjoy your travels 🙂

    • I speak almost no Finnish. It unrelated to other languages which makes it difficult to learn. I can say hello, thank you and I can count to 6. Fortunately, most people speak English very well. My grandfather tried to teach me some Finnish many years ago without success.

  2. Ah, I always wondered where that double K in your name came from!

    • As far as we know we are the only Kolkkas in Australia. It is not a common name here in Finland, but I certainly see lots of double Ks.

  3. Everything is GORGEOUS. I feel like I would feel at home there. I love it! I have always wanted to go to Finland, and never have. So thank you very much! How much English is spoken there out of curiosity? Is it difficult for a tourist… who speaks English, Italian and a smattering of French…knowing that Italian and French won’t do me much good there, I imagine.

    • Luckily English is widely spoken here in Finland and people are very friendly and helpful. I love coming here.

  4. Finland seems to be a magic place in autumn, which is my favourite season. Great photos! I’m glad to see that you are regularly going back to your roots. I feel very strongly about this. We all need our roots.

    • I have been several times to Finland and I feel quite at home here. One day I will go to the town where my grandfather was born, but I need a Russian passport as Sakkijarvi is now part of Russia.

  5. Wonderful post! I have never been to Finland but would love to go. My ancesters are all from Sweden and Minnesota has loads of blond/blue eyed people. My maiden name is Anderson and the phone book is full of “sons”. When I went to Norway, it reminded me so much of Minnesota. Lots of lakes and woods. Where else are you traveling?

    • Finland is beautiful. We have also been to Stockholm a few years ago and it is a gorgeous city. You should go there one day. I am in Helsinki today, tomorrow I go to Paris for a week and then Bagni di Lucca for 2 months.

  6. What a gorgeous place-have a wonderful time with your family.

    • Thank you. I met my Finnish relatives for the first time last year and we have seen each other a few times since. It makes coming to Finland even better.

  7. Wonderful pictures and story from my home country!!! Kouvola is a very nice little town – and looks amazing in autumn colours. I hope you enjoyed a lot of your visit and will write more about Finland. Kiitos!

    • I have written lots of posts about Finland, mostly Helsinki, over the past couple of years. Take a look in the Helsinki category. I have taken lots of photos in different seasons.

  8. Ahh, Finland looks sooo beautiful. I wish I could visit. Thank you so much for sharing all those photos.

    • Not many people think to visit Finland and they should. It is beautiful.

  9. What a beautiful place. I love the color of fall leaves. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been in a part of the world where it happens. I’m looking forward to it this year, as we are home for at least a little while.

    • Autumn is a beautiful time of the year when the leaves change colour. We don’t have that in Brisbane at all.

  10. How lovely set of photos. Kouvola is to me “nearly” unknown, because it is too close to my home. 🙂

    The church of Iitti is beautiful and its bell tower is awesome. I have some winter photos from it.

    Happy Sunday!

    • Kouvola is a lovely little town. You should visit.

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