Rauma: Two of the lucky few can see shadows, a rarity around these ‘ear parts and a quirk of nature we have almost forgotten. A mammoth 230 mile drive from Kokkola to Rauma, chopping off a corner of Finland and slicing through umpteen forests as we go, we arrive in Rauma. The guide says: “A UNESCO World Heritage site, a unique example of an old Nordic wooden town, where people live, work and enjoy their free time in a historical environment!” according to the blerb. Mmm… well, its 4pm on a wet Thursday afternoon in mid August and there’s not a soul about. The only door that’s open is the Tourist information centre and one cafe. A few moons ago, Bergen in Denmark bleated on and on about its ‘Historical wooden buildings’ but these streets of Rauma knock Bergen into a cocked hat, with or without tourists. Well preserved (and rebuilt several times) wooden houses painted in shades of pastel colours, form the crux of the old town. Cafe’s and antique shops line the streets and I can imagine, on the right day, possibly a month ago, when the sun was hot, add a smattering of tourists and a few buskers and this would be a fantastic afternoon for indulging in all things summery, ice-creams, wasps and the like. But we’ve just dodged a downpour, the sun’s playing hide and seek behind big black clouds, its cool enough to need a coat and there MUST be more to Finland than this?… we make the best of Rauma, but enough is enough, back in the bus, let’s nip down to Turku.
Turku: Gleaning a parking spot from Europe By Camper and Ourtour, we reverse all 8.25m of Charliebus into a 6m parking spot on the riverfront, it looks comical, but no one seems to mind. Turku looks promising, just from the drive in, it already looks like its worth a visit. The sun has finally won and the clouds have found a good hiding place. We haven’t seen a sky as blue as this since the Lofotens, nearly a month ago. I constantly remind myself this is summer, but we are still only as south as the Shetland Islands, north Scotland, …did you know there’s a place called ‘Twatt’ on the Shetlands! I wonder what the weather like is there?
On foot, the riverbank is pleasantly alive with student types and a smattering of tourists. There’s a hundred museums and a castle or two, but we have a target in mind, Luostarinmaki Handicrafts Museum, a ‘live’ museum of Finnish life circa 1750, a collection of wooden houses containing all different crafts of the day, carpentry, needlework, blacksmiths, leather working etc. with ‘live actors in some of the houses performing the crafts.
On the walk back to the bus we called into a micro-brewery/pub in an old school setting, some rooms complete with blackboards and school desks. It felt a little strange drinking beer in an old school classroom.
The head brewer just happened to be behind the bar to enlighten us on all things micro-brewery in the area. It turns out, he is the master brewer for the only 3 micro breweries in the area, one in a school, one in an old Bank and one in the old Pharmacy. If I wasn’t driving, we could have stayed all afternoon sampling the local brews, but best keep on the right side of the law.
I think this fella had been in the pub all afto…
Turku was great, after all the sleepy towns we’ve been to, to actually find people and a bit of life was a nice change, of course the bit of sun helped.
OK sleep overs:
Rauma- Church car park. Free. Quiet, no services. n61.129895 e21.514000
Turku, by day – Quay-side 12h Free parking, n60.44280 e22.24975. By night 5 km away to the Aire/Car park, n60.42860 e22.17790. Very quiet. Nice walks to beach area.
Most ABC fuel stations on the main roads have free water, look out for the yellow ‘Thumbs up’ sign.
Next up…there may be a little side project, a few niggles to sort out first, but here’s a little clue: We may be leaving Europe for a few days. Have a good week…Wayne x