Tour "Around The Baltic Sea" report - Report 8: Aland Islands; 20/8/06 – 24/8/06
Robert Laing (Szkocki Bob)
Pictures from the tour »
The Aland Islands are reputed to be the largest archipelago in the world. Around 24,000 islands and it is said that it is the ambition of every Finn to have his own island. Although regarded as part of Finland the islands are autonomous, the people speak mostly Swedish and have their own flag & stamps. As I found out to my cost – having bought my stamps in advance in mainland Finland I found out they were not valid to send postcards from the Aland Islands! And to emphasis their autonomy the islands also have their own brewery, Stallhagen, plus a vineyardwhich has become especially known for its apple wines and the apple vodka Alvados.
The weather on the islands has been described as “not stable”. That is, changeable, as we found out. My “foundling” tent was rained on several times but has been OK so far.
For anyone who likes water the Aland Islands are the place to be. One is surrounded by water everywhere and the many free ferries connecting the various islands are simply regarded as an extension of the road network. And if that is not enough of the wet stuff it also falls from the sky at least once a day and sometimes rather heavily during the night. But there was also sunshine and many fine views including that from the islands second highest mountain at 93m.
Another thing in the islands favour is that they also have orgasmic liquorice ice cream as on the Estonian islands.
Sigitas never fails to amaze me with his ability to always find a sleeping place. For example, we arrived by ferry on the island of Flogo at 9.30 in the evening without any sleeping place having been arranged. Within 10 minutes Sigitas and Waldek had found us somewhere – even if it was rather wild with grass over 2m high. Fortunately it was a warm night and there was just enough light to put up the tents before the rain came.
Whilst on the island Sigitas held a feedback session to raise any problems and discuss possible future routes. Cycling to Turkey from Strasbourg and/or Brussels seems favourite for next year and there was wild talk about cycling to the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
We celebrated our last night on the Aland Islands with the first BalticCycle cake ever cooked on tour. Thanks are due to Maryla, Marzena & Gosia and their respective grandmothers for the recipe which included apples, peaches, raisins & cinnamon. Pyszue, (Delicious).
As the Aland Islands are part of Finland one tends to think of them being close to that coast. In fact the capital, Mariehamm, is closer to Stockholm than it is to Turku. Next stop Sweden and the ferry takes only 2 hours.