July 7th: Naantali
….so we arrive off the ferry in Naantali, Finland and take the five minute drive to the campsite where we are met by two smiling faces, one of which is jumping around with excitement as if England has won the World Cup. (It might yet happen!)
Ros and Sir O are here to join us on our trip up to their home in Oulu. We are breaking the trip up with a couple of campsites. The first is here in Naantali.
Sir O and Dubber do the necessaries to book us in and then some very precise rules start kicking in.
Vehicles and tents should be 4m from the next vehicle and tent. Having found our pitch, parked and set up the awning, we find the pitch isn’t big enough on one side to be 4m away from the vehicle parked next to us. Even if we turn the vehicle any other way, it still won’t fit and the rule applies across the campsite (and the rest of them in Finland -fire regulations apparently). The problem was made more difficult because Rosie is right hand drive so the sliding door is on the left, the opposite of everyone else.
We need the awning as that’s where Sir O and Ros are going to sleep and we booked Rosie in with the awning before we arrived, measurements and all.
THEN the campsite police arrived. Yes literally. We couldn’t set up unless we were 4m apart, even though a very nice German family in a T25 next to us were happy for us to be up close. International relations went on for 20 minutes and then a solution was found. We could put the awning up on another pitch, the other side of the campsite at no extra charge. Defeated the object of camping together but we went along with it.
Anyway there was a football match to watch.
With light refreshments we watched World Cup football on Sir O’s small tablet screen and then settled for the night in our separate quarters
July 8th: onwards north
Next morning we enjoyed a quick breakfast and then walked to the old town. We didn’t realise we were on the doorstep of a beautiful town by the sea.
Naantali (pronounced like naan bread plus the latter half of italy) is a lovely place. The old town has beautiful buildings with lovely carvings.
We enjoy a coffee before getting in the van to drive north. Dubber’s looking relaxed.
We drive a bit further north to a place called Rauma, a world heritage site. The buildings here have historical significance and have very beautiful carvings. Whilst there we go for lunch in a lovely building which is obviously very old.
and there was an interesting sign inside for the loos …. so true.
Fed and watered we drive north on tree-lined roads to our next stop, Vaasa. Yes a similar name to the ship we saw in Stockholm,
We camp on an island off the mainland city of Vaasa. The 4m rule still applies but there is loads of space to set up camp.
The setting is beautiful. Surrounded by water and trees, and as the sun dips (not sets) it is even more beautiful.
July 9: boat trip to a pub
Because the driving is lengthy and it’s quite hot we decide to stay here for two days. Next morning we go into Vaasa by taxi to catch a boat for a trip around the islands to the ‘pub’ as Sir O puts it. It’s lovely out on deck with the breeze and spray.
The boat journeys through the waterways where the water apparently is a greater balance of fresh water than sea, so wildlife flourishes. We eventually stop at an island, Kuusisaari, that literally just has a cafe/pub on it. Salmon and potato soup (staple lunchtime meal) with rye bread and a beer. Very satisfying and lovely view.
We return to the mainland Vaasa and wander the town for a while and have a drink to cool us down. There is some interesting architecture in this town which feels quite modern. Also gives me chance to enter a Marimekko store. Lots of lovely things to be tempted by.
Back at camp Sir O has taken responsibility for dinner and uses the wood burning grill on the campsite to make the first of many splendid meals. He’s an excellent chef.
After dinner Sir O had spotted something of interest…
…so we took the opportunity to play Skipbo and sample the local beer. The music was very good too. Rucksack fancied a game of crazy golf.
July 10: We made it!
Next morning we have a leisurely pack up after breakfast and it’s another glorious day. We continue north and we play I-spy something beginning with T. Not difficult to answer because Finland has miles and miles of forest. While we drive we have to be on reindeer watch and there could be the odd elk.
Ominously Dubber is developing a cold so the last stage of the journey is very sneezy. After a couple or three hours we arrive in Oulu to Ros and Sir O’s house on Raatteentie. And rest!
We made it.