Rototour Nordic 2023
Visiting Iceland, Finland, Norway and Poland, Rototour Nordic proved to be highly anticipated selling out within one week! The success of Rototour 2023 Nordic was truly global, with 37 enthusiastic attendees hailing from diverse corners of the world, including Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, the USA, Canada, Kazakhstan, China, and Brazil.
Iceland consistently finds its way onto countless bucket lists, drawing people in with the allure of the mesmerising northern lights and its captivating uniqueness. Our visit to Saeplast, however, added an entirely new dimension to our tour experience.
Our journey commenced in Akureyri, perched at the pinnacle of Iceland, boasting its beauty alongside the serene fjord. Following a light breakfast, we all eagerly boarded the coach, embarking on our adventure together, setting our course for Saeplast to explore our very first factory. Here we would see a 4.2m machine converted to electric, something unheard of in the parts of the world where we come from. But upon finding out how cheap their electricity was, we were all extremely jealous.
Dadi Valdimarsson and Arnar Snorrason were the perfect hosts, answering questions as we toured the facility. As Arnar commented “It was a great pleasure for us hosting, it is in line with our core values where we want to share, care, and do things together. We noticed high interest about our processes, products and company and we are simply pleased that people are still “buzzed” after the visit. As you noticed we are not located in the centre of the world, even though we the locals believe it is, so thank you for making the effort to visit Dalvik, appreciated.”
Following this, we made a delightful stop at Gisli, Eirikur, Helgi Kaffihús, renowned for serving the finest fish soup and beer bread in all of Iceland. Our journey continued southward, unveiling Iceland's breathtaking landscapes as we ventured through Trollaskagi and the North West. Along the way, we paused to explore Glaumbær in Skagafjörður, a site steeped in history, housing traditional turf houses and a captivating museum.
As we pushed onward to Borgarnes, ominous dark clouds signalled the approach of an impending storm. The coach arrived at our hotel just in time, and the group bore witness to a comical struggle against the fierce wind, with our tour guide, me, and Steve Kyval each taking turns braving the elements. Trying to open the hotel door and usher everyone inside, luggage in tow, amidst the raging wind and rain was an adventure in itself. But such are the joys of being on tour—every challenge turns into a memorable tale. An hour later, undeterred by the weather, we set out once more to savour a traditional dinner right on the water's edge.
Although adverse weather conditions cancelled our initial plans for a glacier tour, we felt no sense of loss. Instead, we bundled up, donned our hard hats and lights, and embarked on an underground adventure into one of Iceland's longest lava tunnels. This unique experience offered a rare glimpse into the inner workings of a volcanic eruption, as we walked in the footsteps of the lava that flowed during the Leitahraun eruption some 5200 years ago, situated east of the Bláfjöll mountains.
Following this leg of our journey, we paused at a few picturesque locations before reaching Reykjavik, where we would spend our final night in Iceland. The evening was marked by a delightful dinner at one of the region's premier restaurants.
Sunday morning saw us with a 4.30am departure to make our flight to Helsinki, where we were met by the Brazilians and then continued for a long drive to our accommodation, in preparation for the busy tour days ahead.
Our day kicked off early again as we all gathered on the bus, bound for Inora to reunite with Minna and Matti Aronen, familiar faces from past Rototours. Our arrival was met with a warm welcome, accompanied by a breakfast and an insightful introduction to their factory.
We also said goodbye to the partners as they headed off for breakfast with a local school principal and a visit with the children at the school. Thanks to Brad & Deb Smyth for the little koalas that were gifted to them.
Inora is a family business with nearly six decades of history, located in Iisalmi. Here, we not only had the liberty to explore their rotomoulding facility but were also treated to an enlightening tour of their other operational processes.
Our journey then took us towards our next destination, with a pit stop for a buffet lunch at a roadside station. While there, we couldn't resist indulging in some delectable local chocolate, a renowned specialty of Finland. By the time we reboarded the coach, we must have each carried about five blocks, claiming it was for family back home.
Our next journey led us to Finncont Oy, a sprawling facility nestled in the picturesque Finnish landscape. Here, we were impressed by the company's commitment to sustainability, observing the significant strides they are making in this regard.
From there, the group journeyed on to Tampere, where we checked into an ultramodern hotel. The hotel's elevators proved to be quite the drama, but that didn't deter us from enjoying an incredible dinner with a breathtaking rooftop view at Periscope, overlooking the city.
Tuesday brought a rare opportunity for a leisurely breakfast before we packed our bags and reboarded the coach for our visit to Molok, a factory focussed mainly on one product type. It was exciting to see the group’s reaction to their machine setup, one of only 5 in the world and something none of us had ever seen before. Add to that a new machine for emptying powder bags and it was hard to pull everyone away. I would have loved to share a photo capturing the sight of a line of rotomoulders, utterly engrossed in watching the machine in action, their jaws figuratively hitting the floor.
Following our visit to Molok, we journeyed to Favorit Tuote Oy. Our adventure commenced with a delightful lunch at their head office, a charming and verdant space, oozing with character. The meal was nothing short of delicious and we then walked over to the factory, where once again, the group found themselves mesmerised by the machines. Witnessing such an impressive level of automation in one place, and observing the Robomould in action, was a first for many of us.
During this time, our partners embarked on their own unique adventure, indulging in a walking tour and enjoying lunch at the Kauttua Ironworks and Manor Hotel.
The group came together again for the three-hour drive back to Helsinki, where we settled into the charming Hotel Mestari. After checking in, the coach dropped us off at Senate Square. It was here that our friends from Kazakhstan surprised us all with thoughtful gifts, and we took the opportunity to capture a group photo. Following this heartwarming moment, we gathered for dinner, sipping blueberry vodka shots and savouring our first taste of traditional Finnish cuisine, including reindeer. An unforgettable culinary adventure was had by all!
Our final day in Finland began with a tour of Motorol Oy Motoplast, led by the delightful Reijo Strom, who had been our dinner companion the previous night. The entire factory graciously opened its doors to our group, permitting us to take photos, capture videos, and inquire about all aspects of their operations. Following this enlightening tour, two talented chefs treated us to a delectable showcase of local delicacies, providing a memorable tasting experience for all.
With our senses still tingling from the culinary delight, we bid farewell to Finland and made our way to the airport, embarking on the next leg of our journey to yet another captivating destination.
Our Norwegian adventure began with a stop in the picturesque town of Alesund, where we checked into our accommodation before venturing out to a waterfront restaurant, to enjoy some of the local seafood specialties. After dinner, everyone returned to the hotel at their leisure, indulging in the entertainment and scenic vistas that surrounded us.
The following morning, we gathered our belongings and jostled for the best seats on the coach, eager to soak in the breathtaking landscapes as we journeyed to Andalsnes. Our partners dropped us off at Ovun for an insightful factory tour, while they set off for a morning tea at Trollveggen.
Ovun were excellent hosts, offering coffee and biscuits before guiding us into the presentation room. Attendees enjoyed the factory tour, witnessing a range of intriguing and innovative products in the process. The highlight came as we stepped outside for a group photo, set against one of the most breathtaking backdrops any rotational moulding business could hope for.
Our partners rejoined us, and we made our way to the mountain peak using the Romsdal gondola. At the summit, we enjoyed lunch with a 360-degree view, taking in the majestic peaks and the stunning surrounds. We then descended the mountain and headed to the airport for our brief flight to Bergen.
After a busy and tiring week, it was a welcome change to arrive at our hotel in Bergen, being our first multi-night stay of the tour. Our late arrival in Bergen meant a quiet dinner in the hotel and a restful night's sleep.
It was now Friday and our last official Rototour factory was Plastinvent. Their factory is quite small when it comes to rotomoulding but they are doing big things. The entire staff was on hand to answer our questions during the tour, and thoughtful gifts were presented to all attendees upon departure.
We then returned to the city for those interested in a leisurely walking tour, before we all gathered for lunch, trying out the Bergen Plank. Tickets were provided for those who wished to take the Mount Floien Funicular, offering spectacular panoramic views. The remainder of the afternoon was left to personal choices - shopping, conducting business, or simply resting.
Friday night marked our final formal group dinner at Bryggen Tracteursted, a historic building dating back to 1708. We were treated to captivating tales by a local storyteller before indulging in a delicious meal and the opportunity to sample aquavit, a locally distilled spirit.
Saturday greeted us with a sense of anticipation, as we readied ourselves for a day of sightseeing during our lengthy journey back to Oslo. It marked the final leg of our coach travels and was well worth the ride. The road from Bergen to Gudvangen unfurled before us, offering spectacular vistas of lush valleys, towering peaks, and cascading waterfalls. Our coach expertly navigated winding roads, unveiling postcard-perfect landscapes around every bend. Our knowledgeable guide enriched the experience with captivating tales of Norwegian history, culture, and the natural wonders that surrounded us.
Upon reaching Gudvangen, our excitement soared as we boarded the Nærøyfjord cruise. This specially designed vessel allowed us to fully immerse ourselves in the breathtaking splendour of the fjord. As we glided through the narrow waters, hemmed in by towering cliffs that seemed to touch the sky, we were humbled by the raw and untamed nature enveloping us. Our voyage concluded in the charming village of Flåm, where the Ægir Viking Restaurant beckoned us with a Viking plank - a gastronomic adventure featuring five tasting courses thoughtfully paired with five local beers.
The itinerary indicated a photo stop at Stegastein, but none of us anticipated the adventurous journey up the mountain on a single-lane road, all aboard a massive coach. Thanks to our skilled coach driver, we safely reached the Stegastein viewpoint—an architectural marvel jutting out from the mountain, treating us to breathtaking vistas of the Aurlandsfjord below.
As we prepared to depart, our resident tour thrill-seeker, Tim Leed, decided to run down the mountain and rendezvous with us at the bottom. To our amazement, he accomplished the feat, arriving simultaneously with our coach. Our onward journey to Oslo included a stop at the Borgund Stavechurch, a remarkably preserved wooden church dating back to the 12th century. Although it was a late arrival at our airport hotel, it marked the moment where we bid farewell to some of the tour participants before proceeding to the ARMO Conference in Poznan.
After checking in to our hotel in Poznan, we all gathered for the ARMO Conference Welcome Reception, and the day culminated in a dinner where the entire group was graciously hosted by Matrix Polymers. A big thank you to Martin Coles and their team!
Following the conference, the group came together for one final activity - a "Taste of Poland" food tour. Our guide, dressed in traditional attire, made the experience exceptional and entertaining. He introduced us to Poznan's famous goats at Town Hall, showcased the exterior of Przemysl Castle, and guided us to the stunning baroque parish church. At three different locations, we had the pleasure of sampling traditional Poznan dishes, enjoying both food and drinks.
The following day was marked by more goodbyes, and then the rest of us boarded the bus for our very last factory tour at Kingspan Water & Energy So. Z.o.o. They greeted us with a generous spread and conducted an exceptionally professional tour, highlighting their developments in innovation and environmental sustainability.
We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to all the factories that hosted our group. We genuinely cherished our time with you and greatly appreciate your effort and openness in being a part of Rototour. We look forward to the possibility of extending a warm welcome to you in our part of the world.
To my fellow travellers, it was an absolute pleasure sharing this journey with you! This tour presented its unique set of challenges but also gifted us with unforgettable moments and exceptional culinary experiences. With four different countries, six flights, and countless shared laughs, it was indeed one of the most rewarding tours we've undertaken.