Planning trip to explore Finland


November 05, 2006|By San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News

A group of 10 of us, all of Finnish background, would like to plan a trip to Finland. Can you recommend any tour groups?

Several U.S.-based tour companies specialize in Scandinavia and can help you arrange a private tour to explore your Finnish roots. They also have group tours that last four days or longer and visit such cities as Helsinki, Porvoo and Turku.

If you are looking to discover your heritage, though, an independent or private tour is probably what you want. Nordic Saga Tours ( in Edmonds, Wash., does lots of heritage tours and can arrange for transportation, with or without an English-speaking guide, to locations you want to visit. If you want to drive on your own, the company can help you rent a couple of vans, book your hotels and set up an itinerary.

Scantours Inc. ( in Los Angeles does the same thing.

Do you know of a no-frills, low-cost airline that I can take from Frankfurt, Germany, to Vienna, Austria, and Frankfurt to Pau, France, near Lourdes? We want to avoid a train and save time.

Getting from Frankfurt to Vienna is easy, but you won't be able to reach Lourdes without including a train ride in your trip.

Try Air Berlin ( for your Frankfurt-Vienna leg. When we checked, round-trip fares were about $127 based on current exchange rates.

Traveling from Frankfurt to Pau is a bit tougher. The international airport in Pau serves only Air France and low-fare Ryanair - and Ryanair's service to Pau is from London only.

However, you can fly from Frankfurt to Montpellier, France, on Ryanair (ryanair .com), then take a train to Lourdes. We found one-way second-class fares on for $61. You can also fly into Marseille, France, and take the train to Toulouse, then to Pau. Fares on start at $74.

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