Vuolenkoski calling

We spent a day and a half in Stockholm in the end and had our first meal out of this trip. We decided we ought to try something different so we had 4 types of pickled herring and gravlax as starters and reindeer strips in a rich mushroom sauce and deer rack of ribs as mains. We shared all the dishes. I have to say that the herring was a bit scary to try but it really was very tasty and we really enjoyed the night out. Since then we have even bought a jar of herring in creamy dill sauce – yum. We spent some time wandering around Gamla Stan (the old town) and managed not to buy too much due our limited luggage space – but jewellry does take up too much space. We also did a boat tour to see the city from a different angle. This was very informative and soothing – I nearly fell asleep at one point. In my defence we have not yet stayed in the same place for more than one night and it does get tiring being continually on the move. We also witnessed the preparations for Princess Victorias wedding on the 19th, THE royal event of the year. Crowd barriers were going up and the media were positioning cameras. Every shop had photos of the happy couple and chocolates, tea towels etc. I was very glad to escape to the ferry for Finland before the actual wedding. On the ferry we decided to sit on the back and watch the archipelago go past. 1.5 hours later we gave up as the islands just kept coming ! Looking at the sea chart it became obvious why the journey took 11 hours as there is only a very short stretch between Sweden and Finland that does not have islands to negotiate. We gave up on the caberet and went to sleep only to be woken at 5am to start docking.

We sat in some communal gardens to have our breakfast and try and wake up while Turku woke up around us. We visited the Luostarinmäki handicrafts museum which had an amazing collection of old Finnish houses in their original site with people doing lace making, upholstering and paper flower making etc. We also visited Turku castle and did some more window shopping. Finland is very expensive but I did manage to get a Marimekko bag for €10. Ian spent considerably more on a swish tea set from Tonfisk which will wing its way to our parcel depot in Windsor (my parents).

We had to get moving again and headed East to a midgey hell campsite. The owner was watching ‘the wedding’ on tv so I did not quite escape it. Next day the thermometer on a building said 17°C which felt very warm – we must have had some cold days recently ! Ian had a treat watching the steam train at Jokioinen and we visited the glass museum at Iittala. Fortunately even with the 20% discount from the museum admission everything was too expensive to buy, apart from a biscuit cutter in the famous Alvar Aalto shape. We had a few long days zig zagging across the country to get to the next available campsite. I have seen a LOT of trees but have not yet seen an elk despite plenty of looking. Finland does not have a lot of sites to see on route from the saddle so I have had plenty of time to admire the trees and flowers – some times in some detail when we are climbing slowly.

We spent some time in Lahti in the sculpture park and Europes largest crazy golf course. Ian beat me by a very large margin. The town also has 3 ski jumps, one which ends in a swimming pool. Obviously an Olympic sport I have missed until now. Finland also has strange ice cream flavours. I have tried liquorice – OK but the novelty wanes quickly. Ian foolishly later tried tar flavour (this is not a spelling mistake).

We are currently lounging at David and Kirstis Finnish residence. We have had a sauna – thats pronounced ‘sow-nah’ NOT ‘saw-na’. I have to say I preferred the dip in the lake afterwards at 15°C to cooking slowly at around 70°C but these things have to be tried. We have been to the local market which was very busy considering how sparsley populated the area seems to be. David was horrified that we were only going to stay for a few days and we have been easily convinced to stay a week and take the train for part of Poland if necessary. So we will have a relaxing few days – Ian is snoozing as I type. The bike has its replacement wheel fitted and we will be physically and mentally ready to zoom off……….some time.