…Before the beginning of the swimming season in May we went together for a usual for Jacob Carlovich trip around the Finland for inspection of real schools. We used for that a two-places coach, bought just before the trip. I should say that returning to Helsingfors we experienced the risk of traveling in a big carriage along the Finnish narrow and mountainous roads. Untrained horses and inexperienced riders almost downed us into the abyss, crossed by the turning bridge. We stroke the railing with such a force, that the beam had broken in two, but the railing survived – so durable are all Finnish constructions and so good are the roads. That why I would prefer to travel in our old small "trille" (kind of covered two-wheeled cart). But my husband will not even hear about my traveling in such a cart in the Finnish inclement spring weather. We took with us our faithful Russian servant Vasily (he was my serf, but we freed him in the year of our wedding). He could stay in St.-Petersburg, but he was so devoted to our family, that during our final trip from the village asked to take him with us to Helsingfors. … He was a tall strong lad, experienced by our previous travels and always took over the reins when saw the inexperienced "Chukhna", and ruled the whole run, especially if the road went through the mountains. This trip left a lot of poetic reminiscences. The new to me views of the melancholic Finnish nature, the happiness of traveling and dividing the experiences with infinitely beloved man, the cordiality we were met everywhere and common sympathy and respect to my husband – all these joined together to make those happy days forever unforgettable. The wild beauty of the Finnish nature impressed me. Its morose rocks, never-ending forests, light lakes, sometimes looking like the boundless seas, mighty foamy waterfalls and somewhat majestic silence – all this impressed me indelibly. We started in the May 9th and went through Borgå1 and Vyborg by the Prince Menshikov's estate Anjala to Imatra and then, passing Punkaharju (Pig's spine) on the Saimaa rounded up the eastern Finland to Nyslott2, Kuopio, Serdobol (Sortavala), Kexholm and returned back to Helsingfors though Viborg and Borgå…

In some towns, for example in Nyslott they said that they saw a coach there for the first time from the creation – so out-of-the-way and poor was inner Finland at the time. The schoolchildren in a moment went to the coach and one by one enter inside to see all the smallest details. The further we went inside the country, the more curious it was to see the curious crowds around the houses where we stopped to dine or drink some coffee of milk (the samovar was a rarity there, so we had to go without tee). All the doors and windows were surrounded by the spectators and even the closed door would slowly open and curious views watched every our motion. But the patriarchal character and goodwill of the Finns forced us to bear this and my husband, with the sense of humor peculiar to his nature, often joked with them in Finnish. The honesty and neatness of the peasants and the cheapness of the food (despite there entire poverty) was surprising even compared with Helsingfors. They put on the table the best food they had – milk, cream, butter and curds, eggs, boiled potato and to our question "What do we owe you?" seldom asked more than fifteen kopecks and if we gave more they were really thankful. In Serdobol we were met with especial cordiality by the old pastor Fabricius. We were placed in the excellent big room with the elegant beds. The quilts and pillows cowers were cowered with rosy blanketing, near each bed there stood a decanter with water and (by the Finnish tradition) a decanter with milk. At the table we were welcomed by the nice fish and excellent dinner served with champagne. Here for the first time we got acquainted with the Finnish home life. It was quite pleasant to see their modest unpretentious patriarchal life with the utmost neatness in all surroundings. At pastor Fabricius house I saw for the first time the Finnish wide double placer rocker. The two kind old people usually sat there after the dinner, spending the time in talk and rock and they kindly invited us to follow their example.

Natalia Petrovna Grot
Family chronicle. The reminiscences for children and grandchildren
St.-Petersburg, Ministry of the railroads publishing, 1900

  1. Porvoo
  2. Lappeenranta