This past weekend we went to Turku to check out the archipelago islands. It really felt like something straight out of a movie...
But we'll get to that part in a minute.
Saturday morning we took a two hour train west to Turku to see the city and some of the 20,000 islands of the Turku archipelago for the weekend. After checking into our hotel, we headed to the Tourist Info center to see if they had any maps, ideas, etc for us to do. The forecast was for rain on Saturday so we decided to just check out the city and Turku Castle on that day and head out to the archipelago on Sunday.
(FYI - We booked a great hotel deal online with the Holiday Inn for only 61 Euros. We were very happy with our room and the hotel was only 4 blocks from the city center - we recommend it if you are taking a weekend here.)
We decided to walk from the city center along the Aura River to Turku Castle (about 5 km) - it hadn't started raining yet so we wanted to enjoy as much time as possible outside before it did! This is when I got this cool shot - I am still loving my panaramic camera setting!
Then we came across the Forum Marinum (National museum specialising in Finnish shipping and naval history).
The Suomen Joutsen
What was even more impressive is that we came across this propeller outside and Nathan says "Oh that must be the Azipod from ABB" What? How the hell did he know that? I am impressed Nathan - not gonna lie.
Wow - are we supposed to be looking at this big propeller or Nathan's big guns?
Finally onto Turku Castle. It was really cool to tour this castle because you got to go into almost every room! And wow - it was massive - much bigger than it seemed! The castle took over 200 years to build and you could see through the exhibitions how they lived during each century. I thought it was pretty cool that it went from so primitve to having a Renaissance floor added in the 16th century - I wasn't expecting it to be so ornate when we finally arrived on that floor!
Entrance to Turku Castle
My favorite room in the castle - this beautiful renaissance church
Nathan's favorite room in the castle. He is always fascinated with the "crapper" when he is in an old castle...I guess boys never do grow up...
Then onto Turku Cathedral - which was beautiful. But it was raining pretty hard by then so we headed back to the hotel for a sauna.
The sauna. I don't really get it. I mean sitting in a small, hot and humid room is not my idea of a fun afternoon. I could sit in my sister's garage in Albany, GA if I wanted to do that (which I don't). And then add in a bunch of naked people. No thanks. Again, I don't understand saying to my friends - "Hey let's get naked and hang out (literally) in the sauna for the next hour and talk about the upcoming Eclipse movie. Sound good?" Uh - not so much. Oh and then I forgot to add that we could jump in an ice pool at the end - yippee! However, Nathan loves it, so I said I would go, but probably never again - unless it isn't a public sauna. Seriously no one wants to see that. (Oh, and for the record, WE both had on our swim suits.)
For dinner on Saturday night we went to a place called Blanko that was fabulous!! I wanted to go to a seafood restaurant (we are right on the water) but they didn't really have one of those - weird. Anyway, our hotel suggested this fusion-style restaurant and it was amazing. Their most popular dish is the Lamb Pasta Blanko- one of the best meals I've had in a long time and the Garlic Scallops appetizer was really delicious too. We highly recomend it for all you Turku visitors!
Sunday morning we woke up to a nice sunny day - thank goodness! Since I flat out refused to ride my bike the 110 km around the inner circle route of the archipelago islands, Nathan came up with the brilliant idea to get the next best thing - a scooter! He wanted to "feel" the archipelago.
"Just when I thought you couldn't do anything dumber you go ahead and do something like this and...TOTALLY redeem yourself!"
We headed north and started our trek to Naantali. While we were enjoying our breakfast we looked at the map to discuss our route and I remembered that the tourist info person had said something about the ferry schedule and how it didn't run very often. We found the time table she had given us, and it said the ferry from Hanka to Nagu (the direction we wanted) was at 11 am, 2:30 pm, and 6 pm. We decided we needed to be on the 11 am at all costs which was a bit of a problem since it was 10 am and we were about 50 km away from it and our scooter maxed out at 57 km/hour and only 32 km/hour uphill (which surprisingly there was a lot of)! Well we had better get the show on the road!
Do I look scared? I kinda am.:)
We made it with 1 minute to spare! We basically drove our scooter onto the boat and they shut the gate and took off! Nathan said he was willing the go all "Dukes of Hazard" on them and jump the water into the boat but THANK GOD we didn't have to go there! The ferry was about 1 hour long and we got the most beautiful views of the archipelago. Also, the very nice lady who worked on the boat told us about a great restaurant to eat at once we got to Nagu - and since these trips are "all about the food" as Nathan says we were psyched.
Beautiful shot from the ferry as we left Hanka
You know what I especially love about being on a boat? They always have a flag! Might be the money shot!
Check out all the little islands!
Nagu had a cute little seaside village that we explored before heading about 10km outside of the town to Kirjais - the little island with the recomended restaurant! Once we saw the Cafe Bystrand we were so excited to be eating at an "off the beaten path" true seaside restaurant with no other tourists. And the food didn't disappoint - I finally got my fish (perch over a delicous horseradish sauce - mmmmm) and Nathan had the best burger either of us had EVER tasted! Which again sounds a little weird - but this place was a steak house. Which I don't really get - how come no one was specializing in fish since they are right on the water?! I guess I will never know - maybe they are sick of fish? I guess that would be a reasonable assumption...I'll go with that!:)
On our way to Kirjais - we decided to get some shots with the scooter...
My favorite action shot, but Nathan refused to get on it with ME driving - what's up with that?
Then back on the road to complete the loop back to Turku. What a great Sunday - sun on our faces, wind in our hair, almost running out of gas - who could ask for more? In the end, the scooter was an amazing choice (you go Nathan) and I know it added to our archipelago "experience"! We highly recomend this choice if you come!
This was just a short ferry that took people and cars about 1 km from one island to another because there wasn't a bridge. We were super happy too - since that was one more km closer to the gas station!
By this point I was too tired to take off my helmet:)
Our last view of the archipelago before heading back to Turku.
What a great trip! Lloyd and Harry - eat your heart out!;)