Finland: The Generation Game

Our top children's trip

Some images stick in the mind. For me, it was our party entering McDonald's in Helsinki in search of reindeer burgers. My daughter was fed up with a diet of lingonberriesso, at her command, our driver stopped the car and he and Riikka, (our guide, swathed in furs) and myself followed my 10-year-old into McD's. I think Riikka was more used to accompanying heads of state, but she had been hired to look after us for these two days and she was up for anything.

The four of us lined up at the counter and Madame Riikka did the ordering, I did the paying and Matti, our driver, held the door open as Miranda swept out again. When we got back to the car, he saw her inside and we continued our journey to Hvitträsk, home of the legendary Finnish wife-swapping architects Gesellius, Lindgren and Saarinen.

I'd booked to do this trip with my wife as we share a love of Sibelius, Jugendstil and Finnish design but domestic events had meant that my daughter went instead. This led to raised eyebrows when we arrived at our first hotel in Turku. "Mrs Mourby" was clearly not old enough to be married to this man. However, the Finns are a tolerant nation - and flexible too, so we were able to rearrange our visit to nearby Naantali. This 19th- century spa town sits on the tranquil south-west coast of Finland and contains Kultaranta, the summer residence of the Finnish president. I'd originally planned to take a tour of the grounds, designed by the great Romantic architect Lars Sonck, but Miranda was keener to see Moominworld, which lies on an island opposite.

Having boarded the Moomintrain, we puffed along the causeway to Moomin Island. There, we saw unemployed Finnish actors walking around in white hippo costumes. They tried to hug us - which I thought was a bit too moomin' much, but Miranda lapped it up. In fact, the feyness of Moominworld worked for her in a way that our visit to Finnish National Opera the night before hadn't.

The thing about cultural tours is that they are, of necessity, very specific. If you want to visit the spot where Babylonian was first poked into clay, there's no point going with someone who wants to hear the Schubert lieder. Even if Miranda hadn't been 10 she would probably have been left wondering what so excited me about gloomy fin-de-siècle architecture or the chilly orchestrations of Sibelius' symphonies. So, each day we tried to find one thing that also appealed to her. In Turku, we played soldiers in the castle. In Helsinki, we went shopping. And at our hotel, Miranda had her first pedicure.

She also discovered Finnish television, in particular, The Bold and The Beautiful - the worst soap opera I'd ever seen. Surprisingly,it was a favourite of the stately Riikka whocould update Miranda on every episode.

Like most holidays, it was a compromise. The one thing Miranda couldn't adjust to was the food, hence our McDonald's trip.

The tour was good for father-and-daughter understanding. I found my child had an inexplicable love of vertical white hippos while she came to realise that she didn't have to like everything that I enthused about. The trip had two long-lasting effects. To this day, Miranda avoids opera and, after discovering she'd eaten a Bambi- burger, she became vegetarian.

Emagine UK (0870 902 5399; emagine-travel.co.uk) organises travel to Finland for groups, families and individuals. A five-day itinerary costs from £585 per person. It includes return flights and b&b. The services of a guide and driver cost €578 (£412) per full day

Take them on a special tour of New Zealand to see where The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was shot. Bridge & Wickers (020-7483 6555; bridgeandwickers.com) has put together a 13-night trip that visits some of the locations that appear in the film. The trip costs £695 per person, based on a family of four sharing, including 13 nights' accommodation, transfers .and transport. Return flights cost from around £820 for adults and £655 for children.

News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Day In a Page

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links