I was cycling in the Finnish Archipelago, a few thousand little islands scattered in the sea area in front of Turku. Well connected with bridges and ferries, this circular cycling route around the islands is probably the best place to start cycle touring in Finland. Distances between villages are short, shops and cafes are to be found everywhere (on summer time), roads are in superb condition and traffic is quiet. Even the dingiest looking burger joint served everything homemade from local ingredients and I feasted on fresh food for the entire journey. In the awarded Nagu Guest Harbour, dressed in my sweaty cycling clothes, I indulged freshly smoked salmon and a large bowl of prawns, among ladies and gentlemen wearing cotton shirts, elegant sailor shoes and hats. And nobody paid any attention to my rough looks.
I hopped from one island to another, enjoyed the sunshine, camped at the back garden of a airbnb place and behind the dingiest looking burger joint and, on my second night, dumped my carefully crafted tour plan and decided to just follow my guts. The next day, when passing a dock, I saw a ferry about to depart. I went to ask where it was headed and after making sure there was somewhere to camp, I rode my bike in front of the cars and headed to Åland islands. The ferry ride is cheaper if you overnight on one of the smaller islands before you continue to the main island, and even though I wasn’t really on a budget, I decided to do so.
I ended up on a postcard world of soft round rocks, open sea and pretty pink pavement. It was so lovely, I decided to stay for a second night before continuing my journey. After all, in three days I had already cycled about 40 km. Time for a rest day in the sun.
Well rested, I went on with the island hopping without a map. Or I did have a small map at the back of the ferry timetable. It was enough, it is really hard to get lost in an island less than 10 km long and 3 roads. I cycled my record ever in history; 44 km t
hat day. And it felt good. The ferries between the islands run only a few times a day, so I ended up sitting down and waiting quite a lot. Perhaps some planning might have helped. But I didn’t mind. I met nice people, I found more good food to eat and I just enjoyed the view, slowly but surely falling in love with this part of my country.
I arrived at the campsite very late, put up my tent and as the late summer’s evening started to get dark, I cooked another of those not so fresh nor delicious pasta meals. I got a brilliant idea that I should take some video of my cooking – now looking back at this, I might disagree about how brilliant it was.
The next day I woke up early with a decision to make. I had two ferry options; I could return to the same place where I had started my detour and continue along the circular route for two more days. Or I could take the ferry back to mainland Finland. I felt like my poor body had done such a great job, that maybe it was time to go home and not push my luck. I was sad about returning, but I also understood, that one day less isn’t going to make my journey any less valuable.
I might have done the same kilometres in 6 days, I now do in a day. But that wasn’t the point of me going. I just needed an adventure. And for the condition I was in, this was just right. I could return home happy. Well, I did feel terrible cutting it a day short, but I was still happy I had gone. Two days later, I was back at the doctors, but that’s another story.