We have been planning our mini Finnish archipelago road trip for quite some time. And only in the summer of 2016 it finally became possible. Although I must admit… it wasn’t easy. Sometimes I even thought that the weather is against us. It was raining almost every single day. Downpours were replaced by rain, rain turned back to downpours, and we didn’t see the end of it. In other words, the summer of 2016 turned to be a real Finnish summer.
There were times when I wanted… no, not to cry… I wanted to howl from despair and hopelessness. Loudly and uncontrollably, until my lungs were empty. And then there were times, when I was looking out the window with my big puppy eyes (filled with Niagara waters) and praying to all the pagan gods of the Finn’s Land, asking them to stop this outrage. One month later my prayers have been finally heard. Weather gods took a pity on me and sent us warm sunny days.
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Finnish archipelago was formed during the Ice Age, and it consists of more than twenty thousand islands, big and small. These picturesque places are especially popular among yachtsmen. But for those who do not own a yacht or sailing boat, there is a special tourist route going around the Archipelago. The passage from one island to another is carried out by ferries (free of charge).
Archipelago ring road map:
We’ve made our first stop in the town (or a village, to be exact) Korpo, which is in the area of Pargas (Parainen in Finnish). Here perhaps I should explain why Swedish name comes first… In the western part of Finland the Swedish-speaking population prevails. Even though I knew about this peculiarity, I was slightly surprised when locals tried to talk to me in Swedish. And because of that I got an impression that we have crossed the invisible border and ended up on Swedish territory.
The main local sightseeing is the church of Korpo, which is also called the church of St. Michael. It was built in 1430-1440.
There is also a small monument to the world famous Finnish composer – Jean Sibelius.
We haven’t reserved any hotel or B&B for this trip, because we didn’t exactly know where we are going to end up in the evening. Our original plan was to get to the island of Iniö and stay there for a night. But fate has decreed otherwise. We missed the last ferry that day, so we were forced to spend the night on the island of Houtskari. Fortunately, recreation center of Mossala Island Resort was located right there, on the beach. They were offering a wide choice of cozy wooden cottages.
Economy class turned out to be a cute wooden hut with beds and kitchenette. Toilet and shower (European standards) were outside. Sauna was outside as well (it is possible to use it for a fee).
That’s the mini cottage we rented for a night:
Adorable, isn’t it?!
Another thing I liked – was the location of our hut. It was quite close to the beach and we had a great view:
Few meters away from the sea was a spacious gazebo with a built-in grill. It was already occupied by a large family with four kids. They were cooking Finnish sausages, corn and cherry tomatoes. Heikki – my husband – stood and looked sadly at the grill. We could also enjoy a nice easy dinner outside, but we didn’t buy anything from the food market because we didn’t know where we gonna stay the night. And at that point it was already too late to go anywhere. Besides, closest shop was on the other island.
If you are not Finnish, you probably might wonder what was so upsetting about the situation. So, perhaps it is better to explain this moment. The thing is that Finns love spending summer time in nature. Spending time with their family and friends, chitchatting with them over a beer and a plate with grilled delights. Summer is the mökki season. What’s mökki? First of all, it is a way of life. Mökki is a summer cottage; in 99% of cases it comes with a small building beside it – sauna.
* funny and interesting fact – there are much more saunas in Finland than there are cars
Mökki basically is a getaway from the civilization, a chance to stay away from the noise and bustle of a big city.
Couple years ago I wouldn’t understand the beauty of that kind of holiday and relaxation… but I guess I got older and wiser… or maybe just older. In any case, now I can really appreciate the time that I spend in the forest, beside the sea or a lake – in the wilderness, enjoying the unity with nature and magical silence. Summing it up: mökki, grilled food, sauna and beer – are the main components of Finnish culture and summer traditions.
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Next to the registration house was the only restaurant on the island. Judging by the presence of Ukrainian borscht and cutlets Kiev-style in the menu, the owners of this institution have Ukrainian roots. Prices however were far from Ukrainian. With that money we could buy many things from the food market that would last for a few days. And just like my husband I thought about sausages and corn, cooked on an open fire. Wild imagination was already drawing erotic pictures in my mind… pictures of how we cook champignons stuffed with blue cheese (or maybe even a goat cheese!), wrapped in a crispy American bacon… “Oh my…”, I closed my eyes and imagined how I eat this yumminess. The gastronomical excitation made me almost choke on my saliva!
Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, closest shop was on the other island, so there was no sense to go there (we were not even sure whether it was still open). No can do. Next time we’ll be wiser.
View from the terrace of the restaurant:
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There is an ‘’observation tower’’ on top of the hill – a wooden structure with an excellent viewing platform, that offers a 360-degree panoramic view:
And near to the tower I accidently came upon… this:
It looks like a cairn (burial monument), but I’m not sure.
You can read second part here.
Hope you enjoyed it!