As you may remember, I've been dreaming of taking a cycling holiday in the Southwestern Archipelago for a while now. I asked my twin sister, Susanna, to come with me. Actually, she was very eager to come, and she enjoys organizing things, so she made the travel time table and reserved accommodation and bikes. We decided to have a 4-day holiday with 3 overnights and make it as cheap as possible without being uncomfortable or losing essential parts of the experience. Altogether, the nights, bikes and ferries cost us 175 euros each.
The Southwestern Archipelago is a part of Finland, but Swedish is spoken there widely. There are even more islands in the archipelago than there are lakes on the continental Finland, and it is very old area of human habitation. There are many many natural and cultural sights, so if you are into nature or culture, you can enjoy this tour. If you combine this with cycling, you get some exercise for you body too, not only for the mind. A road goes through the archipelago, and it is connected by numerous ferries and bridges. This road is called the ring road, and there are signs marking it so that travelers wouldn't get lost.
|Map of the ring road. Click for a better version.|
Our route was Nauvo-Rzmättylä-Kustavi-Iniö-Korppoo-Nauvo.
During the next couple of weeks I'm gonna publish here a sort of a travel diary about our trip in several parts, and here's the first part. I hope you enjoy!
Susanna and me woke up early in the morning to make it to the first ferry in time. Unfortunately things didn't go quite as we planned: first, we didn't get our stuff together in time, and we had to leave later than planned. Also, the trip to Nauvo port took longer than we had expected, a bit more than an hour by car. Finally, there was a really really sad sight on the road. A fox had been ran over by a car, and his friend was wandering around on the road all confused. As we both are animal lovers, we couldn't just leave the poor thing there and picked it beside the road so that the friend of the killed fox wouldn't be hit by a car too. Also, the roadkill could have caused accidents to other motorists. Well, that sealed the fact that we wouldn't make it in time to the first ferry.
When we finally arrived at Nauvo, the place where we were supposed to pick up our rental bikes, was closed, so we waited for an hour and went to check the port in the meanwhile. We got our bikes at 10 in the morning from the local tourist info. Our bikes were Finnish Tunturis, 7-geared road bikes. Helmets and a pump were included, but we also rented bike bags, which turned out to be very useful during the trip. The bikes are ridden in a forward-leaning position, which took a bit of time to get used to because I normally ride in an upright position. However, after a little while the bikes felt really nice and comfy. The local company that rented the bikes, Västergård, was kind enough to deliver them to the center of Nauvo for us. The website says, that they can actually deliver bikes anywhere you want on the ring road route.
Well, we were left with a couple of hours before the next ferry would go, so we took a little test ride in Nauvo. Nauvo is a really idyllic little village in the middle of nowhere, but it is probably the biggest town that one faces during the ring road trip. There is a fishermen's market, market, and a pharmacy in the town. At the port there are several cafés and restaurants and also little shops that sell tourist stuff and clothes.
This is Linta, the first ferry on our trip. The student fee for a traveller and a bike is 5 euros, I think that for a non-student it was 8 or something. Before we continue the story, I have to tell you something about my earlier encounter with Linta, a flashback, one might say. Three years back I was on a field course on Seili, the island that we were heading at this time too. Me and my co-students had spent a full week on Seili, and it was our last day on the island. We had been spending the day at sea on a research boat, and when we arrived at the Seili port, we faced a sight that one does not easily forget: Linta was drifting away from the port platform and was colliding to the coastal rocks. The engine was broken, and we were supposed to leave the island that evening (I had a flight to Prague the next morning). There's no other way out of the island, so we were quite worried whether we would be able to get back to civilization. After a few phone calls we found out that Linta is being towed to another port to be fixed. Actually, the engine that was broken was a spare engine to replace one that had been broken earlier in the summer. Fortunately, someone had managed to dig out a spare engine of the spare engine, and the next time Linta came and the front bridge opened, there was a huge antique device puffing smoke and making lotsa noise on the deck. I have to say, that all the sight was missing, was Arnold Schwartzenegger with a machine gun on his one hand and a hot blond on the other. Anyways, we got out of the island, a little late, but still back to the civilization.
Now, let us return to the year 2010, 8/31. When we embarked on Linta, and the ferry went off to its journey, an alarm noise started howling at the engine room. Of course, the ferry had to go back to the port, and a ship mechanics was called on. What a bad luck ferry! Fortunately, the ship captain or the officer came to the deck and announced that we would get going in half an hour and that all could help themselves to the free coffee in the upstairs restaurant. Well, that kept at least me and my sister happy enough, and we climbed onto the upper deck with our coffees.
So, what should we learn from the experiences of the first morning? Make sure that you have lotsa time and not-so-serious attitude, because as some infamous Murphy said, everything that can go wrong, will ;)
Well, I think that here's enough text for the day. So many things happened during the first day, that I'll tell you the rest in the next post.
Day 1 (afternoon)