We woke surrounded in wild geese. Thousand of the feather friends for as far as the eye could see. Mac n Tosh were eager to chase but thankfully they sensed two keep pups wanting to bite a butt or two and waddled to one side for a little peace and safety.
A morning walk around the island of Ruissalo, warmed by the morning sunshine and cooled by the ocean breeze. The island is basically one big green forest with the odd posh pad and accompanying boat shed. It is an ideal place for walking or cycling. Every couple of hundred meters the dirt track would branch into two or three side tracks and which ever one we took it would lead through to more trees and equally captivating landscape. Across the water more islands with lush trees and impressive mansions with shiny gloss lead/tin roofs. Mac n Tosh loved the forest mooch, munching on sticks and sneezing at forest bugs. The falling leaves gracefully drifted down towards the path providing an ideal play toy for two giddy pups to snatch and chase.
With Mac n Tosh shattered from several hours of playing and running bonkers we let them sleep. Ideal time for us to get eor the little motorbike out the garage and go exploring. The archipelago off the coast of Finland consists of over 6,500 islands, islets, and skerries. You can drive right to the end of the islands via bridges, causeways and ferries and all at a total cost of zero. Turku and Ruissalo make a good base and an ideal gate way for visiting the autonomous Aland islands. We explored a few of the islands passing plenty lovely walking trails, botanical gardens, exclusive spas and the odd golf course. Clearly these islands are dotted in private villas into which the Turku or Helsinki residents nip to at weekend.
Back in Turku to have a look at the things we missed yesterday. The old town, on the far side of the bridge had an oddly half European and half Russian feel to it. A grid network of wide, long streets lined by rustic, heavy buildings the colour of faded lemon. As the oldest town in Finland it has a certain charm about it. After the fire in 1827, destroying many of Turku’s old wood buildings they rebuilt the city to become a major port, industrial city and also a university town. This certainly had helped Turku prosper over the years and bring young blood and investment to the city. However, the market square was typical of an English market, a dying trade. Handful of market traders selling fresh fruit and veg, a couple of florists and deli. Must admit though, the produce did look fresh and tempting.
The orthodox church overlooking the market square was simple and charming. Bright yellow with white trim, dome and gold cross. Outside two of the original church bells stood beside the entrance door.
We spotted an unusual building from the square. The impressive Turku art museum built of granite stands in the grounds of one of the city parks. The galleries display a range of works from Finnish artist from across a variety of periods. Unfortunately, we don’t quiet get modern art but we do like the building and the down spouts. Around the park we spotted something we wouldn’t expect to find in a public park – a snoring topless sunbather! The two teenagers practicing their modern dance routine weren’t phased in the slightest.
We zipped over to the outdoor museum. Upon arrival, we decided to give it a miss and view the outdoor handicraft museum from outside the boundary walls. The 18th century cottages escaped the fire and now formed part of mini village for people to wander around…not dissimilar to Oulu.
The massive Turku Castle dates from 1280, when it was built on a small island at the mouth of the River Aura. Once the country was ruled from here, the largest medieval castle in Finland. Just around the corner the naval museum with a rear maritime feel and atmosphere. For €8 pp you can visit the museums and a fleet of museum ships. A 1902 sailing ship, Suomen Joutsen (Swan of Finland) built in France but used by the Finnish during WWII.
After an eventful day we opted to head to Helsinki, so we could see the capital before the weekend. The two hour drive out of peak time was straight forward and by the time we reached Helsinki, the city centre traffic was quiet. Time to find a great wild camping spot in the Capital of Finland before settling down to an amazing sunset.
Bumble Verdict: Ruissalo fantastic for walks and Turku
Wild Camping GPS position N060.172531 E024.902171
Route: Ruissalo to Helsinki
Weather: Low 15, High 26