So I got up bright and early and headed down to Turku on the 6:22 train. The idea was to spend the day in Turku and then hop on the ferry to Stockholm. As plans went, it was a pretty good one. I said good bye to Antti and Tiina and got aboard. I’m gonna miss them. For as much as they complained about Vaasa being a small, boring village, I had an absolute blast there.
Oh yeah, I should probably tell you that in Finnish, my name would be Jakke (pronounced something like Yakea) but I chose a Finnish name for myself, Pelle, which means “clown.” So when Tiina has kids, I’ll be seta Pelle (Uncle Clown). I like that.
Anyway, I try to write on the train, get a little bit done, then promptly fall asleep. Not a bad thing, really, but there you have it. A few hours later, we pull into Turku, a port city, and I set out to find the port. Of course, in order to get to the port, one must first walk to the town center and take a bus. The thing with European towns, almost no matter the size (as long as they are actually towns or cities or villages and not a small collection of homes along a main road), is that they all have a town center. Anywhere you go, if you follow signs, maps, old women on the street, and ask for “Centrum” you will go to the main area and from there, you can get almost anywhere else you need to be. Kinda convenient and completely unlike any of the places I’ve ever lived (besides, perhaps, Salt Lake City, but I don’t really count that – not going back to Utah). So I’m in the Center, I catch a bus to the Viking Line terminal and buy a ticket for the evening’s ferry. I have a choice here. I can get a cabin for something like 190 Euro or just a ticket for 40. I get the ticket. I drop my big bag and wait for the bus back to town. While I’m waiting, I see this big brick building, but think nothing of it. It isn’t until I’m on the bus and ask that I discover the brick building is the Turku Castle, which,
I’m told, is the ONE thing I must see. But, I figure, it’s by the port so I’ll catch it on the way back.
So I take the bus back to the center, where there’s an information office, grab a map of the area, find some quick food for lunch and head to the library to do a quick email check (and take care of my class). The library in Southern Finland is quite nice! They have an art display up of rock and roll photos which is very cool. Naturally, though, I pick the seat next to the Tourette’s sufferer who keeps shouting (not obscenities, but just grunts and wordless outbursts. Makes getting anything done slightly difficult. I felt like a character in “Harrison Bergeron.” Finally I decide to just wander back towards the ferry dock, going along the channel
and stopping by the castle before boarding the boat for the night.
Turku is a pretty place, but I certainly didn’t get any type of feel for it as a town. I’d met a German girl in Helsinki (gotta love the international-ness of Europe, huh) who was working there as a nanny and said it was great, but I didn’t have the time to really hit more than the highlights. But
those I did hit. Along the water there was a small craft faire which had some nice stuff (mom, you would have loved some of the wooden utensils) and some scenery. I checked my map and guide book to make sure of opening times for the castle and knew I was going to make it in plenty of time.
It’s a very well preserved castle, too. Huge, with a working chapel. I took the guided tour, which provided a bit of history, and then had a wander around on my own. There were two parts of the building, one part, the older looking, typical castle-like structure, was restored to various periods of time. The upper floors were
medieval while the lower floors were later. Both were time periods when the castle was in use, so it made sense. In the other part, though, the more livable area, was set up in various dioramas of a mix of
archaeological restoration of the ancient dwellers of the area and the inhabitants circa 1890s. Weird.
Afterwards, I still had time so I went to the maritime museum as well. This also was done in two parts. The first part was mostly old boats set up like those boat shoes they have at the convention center. The kind I used to love to go to when I was little and could dream about how cool it would
be to live on a boat. This was before I realized how absolutely sea sick I get. The second part was various rooms, each with a little bit about the maritime history of Turku or Finland, including a room devote to outboard motors and one for shipwrecks and disasters.
By the time I finished there, it was time to grab a bite to eat then get ready for the ferry, which was late anyway. We boarded an hour late and took off fairly quickly, heading for Stockholm. Now here’s the problem with not booking a cabin: you have to sleep wherever you can. So I ended up on a bench in the bar. I’d scoped it out earlier as being one of the few places where there was an outlet for the computer and when I started getting tired, I just packed everything up, used my backpack as a pillow and crashed out. Not the most comfortable night I’ve had on this trip, that’s for sure. Add to that, we lost an hour coming over to Sweden and it made
for a fairly miserable voyage. But hey, when I woke up, we were in Stockholm, the capitol of Scandinavia!