"Why Finland?", we get asked. Well, you should try it. Its total population at roughly 5.5 million is only slightly bigger than Sydney's 5.0 million. Helsinki, the capital, is about 700,000.
Finland has the lowest population density of any European country (although double that of New South Wales), the roads are quiet, the natives are friendly, law-abiding, multi-lingual (they all learn English from an early stage at school), and the scenery, although generally quite flat, can be breathtaking, especially in Lakeland. Even the cloud formations were often unusually attractive.
We haven't, of course, sampled their cold, dark winter, but our experience of summer was very pleasant.
The Lilla Roberts hotel turned out to be an excellent 'second choice' - there were a couple of major international conferences in town, and we weren't able to book the Haven, where Anne had stayed on her previous visit.