Days 39-40: Fiskars and Fiagra!

Wednesday: Hanko, Fiskars and Helsinki

Why do I think of Hancocks Half Hour?  Hanko is the sunniest part of Finland – and the most southerly point – beautiful town.  It is where the important Russians built really elegant villas for their girlfriends in the early 1900s.  They are named after the girls – Villa Eva, Villa Katrina, etc. etc.  We parked overnight – on a marina…  They did not tell us that the Finnish Navy fired huge salvos from the port out to sea – towards Russia – every morning ! The ground shook – the earth moved at each round !  A good visit though…. on to…..

Our Hanko East Harbour pitch

Our Hanko East Harbour pitch

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Some of the Russian Old Ladies

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The house, not James, is one of the old Russian ladies!

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Heavily fortified at one time ... little left

Heavily fortified at one time … little left

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Best beaches in Finland apparently

Best beaches in Finland apparently

The Water Tower opened in the afternoon, so we did not feel obliged to climb the steps for the view!

The Water Tower opened in the afternoon, so we did not feel obliged to climb the steps for the view!

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Hanko Marina

Hanko Marina

 

Fiskars and Fiagra!

Fiscars town, home of the Orange handled scissors – would youze believe it!  Ironworks, crafty things ? A bit overdone and not enough explanations about how it all worked.  A bit of an excuse for another set of craft shops.

What was the knife factory

What was the knife factory

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But we are increasingly aware of strange signs on the Finnish roads….. How about this one –

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Eternal Erection!  Now I dont know what they are advertising, but if it’s for sale – say no more….

 

Drive onto Helsinki

A good drive into central Helsinki during rush hour – very busy – Satnav could have taken us on the ring road but no – we do it the hard way…  Very good campsite – we have to actually fork out some spondulix!

 

Day 40: Thursday and a Jamescalator!

Up early next morning and off we went on our bikes to meet our greeter Irmeli ! Now how do you get a bicycle up from the Metro platform to street level ? Ask James – you don’t use the lift – too easy that way… You put the bike on the up escalator and step on to follow – then you suddenly let go the bike – bike follows the gravitational pull – good old Isaac Newton and his apple….  James cartwheels down the escalator and gravity ends with James wearing the bike around his kneck! He has applied to join the Finnish State Circus ! A few scratches, bike and pride punctured…..

A few injuries

A few injuries

A cinemon bun makes it all better!

A cinnamon bun makes it all better!

Irmeli and James:  our Helsinki Greeter

Irmeli and James: our Helsinki Greeter

Engraved with (mostly) two names and padlocked 4ever to the Love Bridge

Engraved with (mostly) two names and padlocked 4ever to the Love Bridge

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Day 38: Farewell Turku and Hello Hanko

Tuesday:  >4000 miles in 5 weeks … Milestone

Not hard to seek out a watery pitch, even in supermarket car park!

Not hard to seek out a watery pitch, even in supermarket car park!

After a really good night’s sleep with Special / Market K, really quiet and peaceful, we left Archie Pelago with the final ferry and some bridges.  Whilst the skies were grey, it did not diminish how pretty this area is.  Very grateful to the chap we talked to when filling up with water, as we had thought we might skip this.  So pleased we did not.

Arrived back at Turku and the Maritime Museum, our previous night’s parking, and walked to Turku Castle.  Only EUR14 (it helps J being a senior … senior what?) and we must have been there for about 2 hours.  Really starting to get our heads around Finnish history and the Swedish and Russian occupations.  We are now able to link some of the Kings and battles from both the Swedish and Finnish perspectives.  And Duke John from Turku Castle was imprisoned for a while in Gripsholm Castle on Lake Malaren …. which of course we have seen!  The castle was a bit like Ikea … once you’re in, you have to follow the trail and can’t get out.

Turku Castle

Turku Castle

Raining by now on and off … but we were so lucky with the weather during our bike ride yesterday, if it’s going rain, then let it be when we are doing inside things or travelling.  Lunch in the car park and decided to head for Hako.  A little sad to leave Turku, after 3 days in and around a place, it starts to feel like home and it has a lovely vibe about it.

Only driven through part of Hako and don’t feel like exploring in the rain … will have a wander tomorrow.  But, we like what we have seen so far.  It is the southern most town in Finland and has been an anchorage, a Russian holiday destination, an emigration embarkation point and a 1940’s Russian Naval base. We are parked up on the East Harbour and passed large wooden Russian villas … a different architectural style to the normal wooden house.  These villas are dubbed the ‘Old Ladies’ and often named after sweethearts.

 

Day 37: Meeting Archie

Monday

Shopping to replenish water, milk etc and even better …. gin!  Slight contretemps with Sally the sat nav who tried to take us the wrong way.  Ended up putting on the mifi and using the iPad with maps to navigate.  Would have used a map, honest, (not de-skilling) but the Europe map we have has very poor detail of Finland and the guide book’s maps are also basic and only show main towns etc of interest..

Thus we used googleland to head south – to see Archie –  Archie Pelago ! He has 25,000 islands off the coast of Turku.   We navigated Pargas, Nagu and Korpo and we will stay tonight in a supermarket car park on a marina on Nagu. The supermarkets name – you guessed it! “K Market”!  We crossed bridges and used small ferries – those who know – think Tarbert to Killimer size.  We cycled for 21 ‘kinometres, sorry kilometres, and almost got lost…..  Now for pre-prandials and supper….

We have seen some unusual road signs ? but “Sexinapantie” ? We offer no comment…

Ferry!

Ferry!

Coffee, No James drinking coffee whilst waiting for said ferry.

Coffee, No James drinking coffee whilst waiting for said ferry.

Typical view from Chard as we island hop.

Typical view from Chard as we island hop.

Camera course ... long leading line on Karpo

Camera course … long leading line on Karpo

From ferry; again typical view.

From ferry; again typical view.

!!!

!!!

Late Stockhom submission.  Mother claims she is not just a PA!

Late Stockhom submission. Mother claims she is not just a PA!

 

Days 33-36: Forests, Rauma and Sleepless in Turku

33: Thursday – Driving Rain / Driving Forests / Wooden Houses in Old Towns

Weather pretty grim so put some miles in going south.  Intended to stop in Oulu, but K driving and J napping,  so K kept driving.  Oulu from the ring road looked like a MASSIVE busy and modern town.  Known for its Air Guitar Championships!  Apparently it would have been good for a bike ride around the waterways and old market place, but the weather was not inviting.

We stopped and looked at coca-cola (Kokkola), basic shopping and asked some embarrassed girls where to find the old town.  All they could do was giggle and point.  On being asked if they learnt English at school (the teacher in me still!), they giggled again and nodded.  A quick wander around the old wooden houses and back on the road.

Stopped overnight at Jacobstadt, by a small marina.  Wandered the town in the morning with some of the best preserved wooden houses in Finland and this almost art deco clock tower.

Jacobstadt

Jacobstadt

34: Friday – Vaasa and a wonderful moment in time

Short drive to Vaasa.  Managed to find a 4 hour free parking right outside one of the museums.   A combined ticket gave us entry to the town museum and an art gallery.

Pohjanmaan Museo:  exhibitions about the changing natural history and life in Vaasa, and art and furniture that had come from two private collections.  Some English info cards in most rooms 🙂

BUT the Kuntsi Museum a short walk away.   This houses changing exhibitions and currently two photographic by Finn Teemu Mäki.  Early we spoke to one of the guides who then spent an hour with us explaining the sets of three photos in the ‘Be your enemy’ exhibition.  In workshops, people explored who they are now, their worst nightmare and their dream.  Without this amazing lady the pix would have been largely lost on us.  The other half of the exhibition was about challenging stereotypes about men and women and how much of society and it’s conventions you choose to take on board.

Check it out here:  http://kuntsi.vaasa.fi/index_eng.html

We were so buoyed up by this experience, we celebrated in the centre of the town with a glass of something red …

Had to celebrate a wonderful afternoon

Had to celebrate a wonderful afternoon

We moved Chard all of 50 metres from our roadside parking to a gravel parking on the waterfront for the night.

35: Saturday – Rauma and Turku

PANIC!  Awoke in the morning to find the chemical loo had somehow filled itself …. a quick pack up and on the road to find a service station …. fortunately we found one really close.  We emptied and filled with fresh water and then parked up and went back to bed!!!

Once we were up and going, we stopped in Rauma.  This is the KING of old wooden houses – all 700 of them.  Very pretty, but must be horrendous in high season.  A combined museum ticket got us through the Town Hall town museum with some exhibits of lace, for which the town is famous, and quickly through the merchant’s house and the seaman’s house.

Rauma

Rauma

Quirky humour

Quirky

Captions please!

Captions please!

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Toast to Turku

Drove onto Turku, again a waterside pitch alongside the river and the restaurant and cruise trip boats.

Late afternoon, so a quick walk along the river and into the town.  Bustling, sun shining and really attractive.

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Docked with all the diner cruise and bar boats

Docked with all the diner cruise and bar boats

Our overnight pitch was lovely by the river Aura and promised well for a peaceful evening once the strollers had departed for their tea and muFinns…  Now we had reckoned without the riverine Saturday night young partygoers? And were they goers? On the restaurant ship right opposite our non-party van, they started early – and finished at 5>00 am !  Clunegapyears had a major gap in the sleeping department !

Sunday:  Turku – liked and explored, without yawns

However, we rose late and headed out of Turku to replenish the ablutions and WC functions? Is there a law in Finland about assisting the forest life with human biogas _  Second time we have broken it…

Afternoon saw us walking around the open air handicrafts museum… it is actually a complete village of original 1700-1900 cottages each housed the trades that were necessary for life – from carpentry through printing to rug making. Our journey was greatly assisted by local lady guides who knew even the individual families (2 families next door to each other had 6 daughters ) 12 young ladies !  Later, we visited the Contemporary Art Museum. This leaves me wondering why I threw out my drawings and squiggles from 3 years old!  But there was a fascinating section downstairs about the original medieval town recently excavated and explained – in Finnish, Swedish and English.

Now we have moved downriver for our nights pitch to avoid Turku Temple Bar? and instead we currently have a coach load of KGB tourists examining our van! We might have to get a bit Bolshevik with them…..

Right next to Stockholm to Finland ferry port …. watched (and heard) 50+ twin trailered lorries leave… checked the timetable … safe till 0700 hrs, then the dinosaur noises start again!

Life saving equipment along the river - would we have saved the revellers?

Life saving equipment along the river – would we have saved the revellers?

Wooden village in Turku that escaped the fire.Apparently the roof ladders are for fire prevention!

Wooden village in Turku that escaped the fire.  Apparently the roof ladders are for fire prevention!

The wooden village still has some people living here.  Unusual as all the houses are in their original position.

The wooden village still has some people living here. Unusual as all the houses are in their original position.

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View from Netherlands Consulate of the cathedral

View from Netherlands Consulate of the cathedral – nothing Double Dutch about J though!

 

 

Days 31-32: Finland!

Tuesday:  And into Finland

After the Max burger, googled that they are a Swedish chain and beat Burger King and McD in taste tests … but no presence in Finland 🙂   J will have to wait till Norway.

Weather pretty wet, so decided on a drive … stopping in Pitea to fill up with LPG as there is NONE in Finland.  Thought we would stop overnight just over the border, but the town looked less than salubrious, so we headed onto Kemi a few miles on into Finland.  The sea mists blew in and off our pitch… the heating was on!

Wednesday:  Moving South

Initial thoughts on Finland which is new to both of us …

  • Lack of architectural planning – very utilitarian, square shapes, with lots of blocks of flats around 6 stories high.
  • Poorer than Denmark and Sweden
  • People wear black or black, and sometimes black.  And a lot of the men have crew cuts.
  • English seems less widely spoken, or at least well.  I thought may be Russian was compulsory, but apparently Swedish is mandatory for the last 3 years of primary, due the large Swedish speaking contingent.

However, as we have come south, we have seen more attractive buildings … we stopped for a walk around Kokkola old town and found a Alko shop …. yes the state run booze shops really are called this!  We ‘invested’ in a bottle of gin … ‘Finsbury’s Best London’ and a bottle of Schweppes …. joy!

Drove to Jakobstad (Swedish name) / Pietarsaari (Finish) and parked up along side the Old Marina … Swedish speaking area as we are back to red painted wooden summer houses.  Opened the gin and toasted the safe delivery of Jade to Sarah and Gareth – wonderful news.