08.08.2009 - 09.08.2009
A full three hours of sleep the previous night on a random sofa in Helsinki, I almost missed my bus to Rauma. After spending years (yes, my gosh, it is years now) in developing countries, I'd forgotten that buses leave on the minute. So, hot and breathless, I caught up with the other girls at the bus station, and even got a student discount on my ticket (people are so honest here. If you say you're a student, they believe you are one. I almost felt bad before I remembered that I am, actually, even poorer than a student).
Rauma is an old seafaring town. The old town is now a Unesco world heritage site, and very deservingly so; colourful, cute, cottage-like houses line gravel streets, and it looks wonderfully run-down; not so much that it desperately needs much repair, but enough to lend to the turn-of-the-century, relaxed ambiance of the place. Beautiful, iron-wrought balconies and bright flower arrangements, and windows which each play a role- the curtains are of old, delicate lace (Rauma is still famous for lace-making as well) and every windowsill has a carefully-thought arrangement of little boats, messages in bottles and seashells. I felt like I walked through a little art gallery.
In Rauma, we finally caught up with the rest of the guys. What started off as a trip for five people, ended up somehow expanding, and there we were, ten of us, buying enough food to keep a small country well-stocked for a year or two. After a bit of drama at the ticket booth (and big, sad eyes from two of the girls), we managed to buy enough ferry tickets to get all of us to Kylmäpihlaja, a small island and our destination for the night.
I'll gladly admit that although I think Finland is beautiful, I never really thought it was exceptional. Sure, there's some nice scenery in Finland; I just thought it was rather boring. However, once we'd unloaded our small army of bags (and we're all backpackers! We should know better!) and had a quick look around, I realised I loved it. Just a tiny lighthouse, big enough to have two little rooms on each floor and a dining room below, large rocks by the seaside, wonderfully heated up by the hot, sunny day, water lapping gently, and really, what else could you want? We used the lighthouse sauna for free, and ventured into the ocean for a dip (although I really only went because I couldn't be the only one who didn't. That would just be cowardish.). About a hundred SLR's were brought out as the sun started setting- an exquisite sight as the sky was completely cloudless. We sat outside, barbequeing, drinking and telling stories until the light was finally switched on at the lighthouse, casting a faint yellow light on the rocks. When the wind finally picked up too much, we snuggled into the common room of the lighthouse to finish the dregs of the wine, still telling stories and listening to the wind.
The next day looked much like the photos I remember from my parent's photoalbums from the sixties; distant sail boats, wild flowers, swans in the sea, lots of happy people sitting on the rocks, sunning themselves.I felt a little nostalgic for no reason, and rather like to think we looked like a post card.
Fred obviously came along, as an honorary member of our little backpacking team
A ferry ride back, relaxed, tanned (OK, slightly burnt) and still with a single lonely cider in tow, we parted two-ways, one group heading to Tampere and beyond, one to Helsinki, happily waving to each other. Sunday night and still sunny. Who on earth thinks Scandinavia is always cold and snowy?
(and yes, I'm very much aware I was going to stop writing this blog. But a friend, whom shall remain nameless, asked for an entry on Rauma, very particularly. So there you go. And I'm still unemployed and bored with my life.)