Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Back in the arms of Finn

And coincidentally enough, the week we get the big news that we're being bought, I had plans to go back to Finland and be with the girls. It was good timing really. I don't know when I'll be back in Finland again. At this rate, with the deal likely closing at the beginning of next year, it's possible that I may never need to go back for work. I guess we'll have to see.

I was happy to be going back now either way, and I would be able to spend some quality catch up time with Hong Kong P and German K, whom I hadn't seen since our amazing Croatia trip. We were supposed to take a trip to Israel inbetween but alas project schedules got in the way and the political situation in that area the world hasn't done anything but get worse, so we decided to postpone/cancel. Probably a good idea considering everything has just escalated since then.

Now for this weekend our original plan was to hit Aland, a small autonomous Swedish archipelago of Finland that sits to the west of the western border of Finland. You can take a ferry or fly there. I've understood nothing amazing there exists but it's nice for renting a summer cottage and doing typical Finn/Swede things like sauna and fishing. Doing a lot of things naked in the summer sun.

After I booked my flights however, we realized that in order to get there from Helsinki we'd basically get all the way there and need to turn back around immediately, so that was thrown out.

Instead we booked a roadtrip around the Turku archipelago, which is basically the same area but much easier for us to get to. We rented a car from the airport and took to the road Saturday morning after having a sleepover at Hong Kong P's newly acquired apartment.

We stopped only where we felt, which in our case meant only once we'd reached the first island: Nauvo. We wanted to stretch our legs now that we'd gone over one ferry (free if you can believe it!) and the weather was just so gorgeous: 23degrees and perfectly sunny, not even the slightest breeze to give us chill.

We parked at a little outpost near some water to check out what the locals had to offer. Mostly small handicraft shops and a few salmon sandwiches and smoked fish.

There was an adorable older woman knitting table linens by hand in the corner who smiled at us as soon as we arrived, identifying us (correctly) as the only foreign tourists in the area. The rest were clearly Finns (possibly even Swedish Finns) who were enjoying the last rays of summer sunshine and were relatively from the area.

We did some silly photo shoots by the water before hitting the rather jazzy outdoor facilities:

I'd have to say those Finns really do know how to do outhouses right. This thing was amazing! Not only was it homey and cozy (and that's really hard to do with an outhouse), it was almost adorable! It was completely made out of soft wood and had old black and white pictures of men holding out shoes and fancy clothes with surprised smiles on their faces as if to say, "Don't you want this gorgeous shoe? I am at your beck and call." It was hilarious.

Despite the fact that your business went nowhere but a hole in the ground, it still had a stainless steel sink with running water and all the services you could want - toilet paper, liquid antibacterial handsoap, and an appropriate lock for the door. I'm not sure if there was lighting in there (since it was daytime when we went, making it unnecessary), but at the very least they had built in a large window at the top, so natural sunlight could come in.

It was literally the cleanest outdoor bathroom I'd ever been in. Cheers to that.

We drove on after that, taking in the sunshine and the winding, easy road. The weather really was glorious. I couldn't believe our luck. The last of the golden summer.

We stopped at a restaurant next to the next ferry port. It was called Loma Nauvo. Luckily they had a fairly extensive menu at a pretty reasonable price because I was starving. They had steak on the menu, so of course I ordered it, after having craved beef for more than a week.

I ordered the hunter's steak, which was more like a hamburger patty on its own than a steak but whatever, I didn't care. It was fantastic. Served over a bed of fantastically crispy and salted potato wedges and a side of the most gloriously creamy mushroom sauce this world has ever seen.

I ate the entire thing clean, leaving only three little potato wedges behind because I literally couldn't stuff myself anymore. It was glory. I missed feeling full in the fulfilled way. Somehow London food doesn't feel like real food, merely filler (except when I'm eating out and really enjoying myself).

As we were sitting and relaxing in the sun we saw the ferry approaching from the next island and decided to make a run for it so as not to find out how late the next ferry would be. We made it in time. These free ferries really are the way forward. Free public transportation...I'm still shaking my head in disbelieve. The idea is just ludicrous in its awesomeness.

We drove through the next island, Korppoo, over the next half an hour, hitting its most southern border and taking a look on its abandoned harbor (not a place where ferries went back and forth, just where people tied up their boats and apparently during the summer, stayed and did sauna). We decided it was time to hunt for lodgings for the night.

This is when our plan went awry a little. I searched on Google maps for a hotel on the island and only came up with one result. I couldn't see anything that looked like a hotel on street view but we went to the address anyway thinking that we would see it once we were there in person. The answer is...no.

Instead we were driven to the center of town, where the one bar present was bumping with locals. Luckily also in the area was a sign that promoted some businesses in the area. Three of these businesses were hotels or bed and breakfasts. After some appropriate inquiries via phone (how oldschool), we decided to head to Hotel Nestor and Faffas, who were oddly located right next to one another about 7 kilometers away.

We checked both of the places out before settling on Hotel Nestor. It just had an unmistakable charm that we couldn't deny. They were the same price anyhow so it didn't make too much difference.

We registered and were led up to our room, where we showered and freshened ourselves up before taking off again for real dinner.

But I'll get to that in the next post, since this bed and breakfast needs to be covered in great detail.

Our trip was turning out to be the relaxing getaway that we all needed after the week's significant news. Beautiful trip out to the countryside...

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