We have great colleagues. Every day they feed us with new ideas for trips into the archipelago. For us, it is still hard to memorize all these strange Finnish names of islands, villages and towns. But one we remebered, which almost everyone mentioned: Naantali.
Naantali is a small seaside town 15 kilometres west of Turku. Wooden houses, a large marina and mild summers are the ingredients that make it one of Finland’s major touristic hotspots. And, of course: Moominworld.
Saturday was probably the final summer day of the year. At least if you believe in weather reports. So we put on our summer clothes one last time and climbed on our bikes for a trip to the sea.
We made it two corners from our apartment. Then we got right into a bunch of runners. They took part in the Paavo Nurmi Marathon, named after Turku’s most famous son. Paavo Nurmi once broke more than 20 world records. His successors still had quite a few kilometers to go.
While they were setting off for their first of two laps around the Ruissalo Island, the starting shot for the 10-kilometer race was fired right next to the theater (look at our Twitter account for a video).
Little birds, big ships
After watching the athletes for some time, we went on to Naantali. To be honest, the bicycle path wasn’t that beautiful. It mostly followed the motorway. The only detour was through a birdwatching areal near Raisio.
We also came along the Perno shipyard, which has been part of the German shipbuilder Meyer Werft since 2014. The funny coincidence is that the Meyer Werft has its headquarters in Papenburg, which is close to Oldenburg and even closer to the place where Sebastian grew up.
Meyer Turku is now a major employer in Southwest Finland. Many people moved to Turku within the last years, which has led to an economic boom. The downside is that housing became scarce and rents are rising.
After an hour we reached Naantali. The weather was still great and even though there was a food festival on that day, it was not too heavily crowded. We spent a sunny afternoon strolling through the lovely and picturesque old town. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make it into the church, which was occupied by several wedding parties.
If you are a skipper, Naantali is your place. You can park your boat directly at the promenade and step into one of the dozens of restaurants. There even is a seaside gas station to fill up your tank. And in case you have 80.000 Euro to spare, just buy a new yacht from the pier…
But if you are a drone pilot, you will be dissapointed: the whole Naantali area was recently declared a drone free zone.
The reason for this we realised when we head over the bridge to Luonnonmaa: The island opposite to Naantali is the place where the Finnish president spends his summer holidays (if he’s not drinking a beer in the public after meeting Vladimir Putin).
That’s also why we failed to find direct way to the sea. Everything seemed a bit restricted on the Luonnonmaa island. So we set up our picnic spot right next to the cycle path, before we went back to Turku.
[Oh, you missed Moominworld? Well, maybe we’re not yet Finnified enough to spend 28 Euro per person for it….]