“Under grey skies” (Easter bicycle trip from Turku to Pori, part 1)

This year’s Easter occurred in the early April. Not a perfect weather yet for a bicycle trip in Finland, but it was painful to think that otherwise 4 consecutive days off will be lost. I bought train tickets and looked every day at the weather forecast. There was snowfall only 4 days before my trip, but the snow melted soon and I went on summer tyres.

Day 1, Turku – Uusikaupunki

Everything was closed in Turku on Friday morning, except Subway. The trip started with junk food and I followed the same line all 4 days, you’ll see why :)

The highway from Turku to Raisio is boring as almost any other and this time I decided to follow smaller roads and a pedestrian path along the Raisionjoki river. On my way I noticed a street, named by the city which doesn’t exist anymore.

As you can notice, looking at these guys and the flags in background, there was cold and strong headwind. It’s a pity, because usually the South-West wind is blowing there, which would mean tailwind for me.

The temperature, however, never felt below 0. It was around +5 during daytime and around +1 at night.

This is what a touring cyclist can expect for the lunch in Finland. There are only few decent restaurants in towns and villages, everything is located near highways.

I am trying to avoid ABC for two reasons – their location in such a car-centric environment and their monopoly position (the same huge company owns a lot of restaurant chains and supermarkets across Finland, which has quite negative impact on local businesses). The food in ABC is ok, however. Warm and much more healthy than pizza, burgers and their associates.

Soon after the bad impression a good one came. I was quite surprised by the fact that they built bicycle road before the actual highway (on the left).

Then I found myself in a place called Maskun Riviera. Well, it’s definitely worth its name, consisting of several small lakes with clean water and pleasant sand shores. Because the lakes differ from the natural ones by the way how they look like, I guess that they are not of the natural formation. Perhaps the whole place is an old sand quarry.

Dullness or beauty of simple details? Depends of the attitude. If I would have possibility to cycle somewhere in Italy instead, I am sure I would do it. But since I had nothing more for this Easter to see than quite inexpressive landscapes of Southern Finland, I was happy with this option as well.

This one surprised me. Bicycle shop in a town with 5000 inhabitants. Not bad! :)

Finally I found a little bit of green colour :)

Turku – Uusikaupunki railroad. Has no passenger traffic, unfortunately.

The asphalt ended finally and I felt myself better, being closer to the nature.

This is something I can’t understand. In such places domestic tomatoes and cucumbers are grown. Their average price is around 5 € per kilo. Real madness and waste of electricity.

Old school cargobike! :)

Finnish dialects in action. I love them, but know only a limited amount of their traits. This one was easy however. In standard language it would be “tuokaa paperi tänne” (“bring paper here”).

Early signs of spring – beautiful daffodils (?). I noticed quite many of them on the way and only them. Perhaps they are not so much afraid of cold like other flowers.

I was very happy that I decided to take winter jacket with me to this trip. It was never too warm in it during all 4 days :)

The only place with some food for surrounding 40 km was Vehmaa village. One grill kiosk and one restaurant (which turned out to be a bar, serving a couple of snack dishes). The dish I got was of the decent size, but it was junk food anyway (fried and greasy). My impression about the place was somehow improved due to cheap coffee and discounted yesterday pastries.

The sky turned even more grey while I was enjoying pastries and it was a little bit hard to stand up and go out, facing the cold wind again.

After a few kilometres carbohydrates did theie job and I was happy again, full of forces to cycle until the sunset. I stopped once more only in Lokalahti to take the picture of a beautiful church.

I found a spectacular place for the tent not far from Uusikaupunki and enjoyed warm tea looking at sunset over the small sea gulf.

The place was protected from the wind very well, but it was slightly colder than I expected even in the winter sleeping bag, perhaps due to moisture.

Day distance: 96.3 km.

Day 2, Uusikaupunki – Rauma

There was little rain during the night, but it stopped and the day promised to be nice, even if not very sunny. This fact made me happy and I went to Uusikaupunki with light heart.

This is the Old Church of Uusikaupunki.

And this is a nice installation from the Market Square.

Uusikaupunki is famous for its ski tunnel (another thing which I can’t really understand). It’s 1000 m long, making it the longest roofed building in Nordic countries.

There is a nice windmill park in Uusikaupunki as well.

A good place for picnic, by the way, because it’s located on altitude and some parts of the town can be seen from there.

When you just step out from the tiny town center, Uusikaupunki is the same soulless place like thousands others in Finland. Where the people are, you can ask me. Well, it seems that they are inside their cars all the time :(

Car-oriented world gives a birth to such a stupid infrastructure.

But let’s start to notice good things again. There were not that much places where I was able to see the water from the road, but I was able to feel its proximity all the time. In postbox decorations, for example.

Art-noveau church in Pyhäranta.

I had some hope for Pyhäranta because it’s somehow bigger than nearby villages and might have a place for lunch. Vain expectations :( I bought some food in the shop (that was the only day when shops were open during Easter) and went further.

Santtio village is a real village, not an average “locality” along the highway! I really recommend to visit it and to see its sympathetic wooden houses.

Amazing device :) Haven’t seen that before.

I went through most of the big villages in the area and there was no food anywhere. This means that I had to prepare something by myself. In a place named Kaunissaari (Nice island) a suitable meadow was found.

This is the place where I met a local man and we spoke a little bit. He asked about my trip and said “God help you” in the end. I am wondering why nobody else was interested in a guy, having a little bit longer trip than usual. It’s not a city, where everybody is in a hurry and I’ve noticed that quite many people saw me and thought something, but nobody started a conversation. I agree, cycling in general is completely normal phenomenon in Finland and can go unnoticed, but cycle touring (especially in April) is something uncommon. I met no one touring cyclist on my way.

I’m happy to see that bicycle/pedestrian roads are being built in spite of economic downturn. They unify communities, provide a space for an evening walk to locals and make children’s way to school safer.

This road is expected to have a segregated bicycle/pedestrian way in June.

It started to rain at some point, but I felt that it’s just for a short time.

There is a birdwatching tower in Unaja. It’s not particularly high, but its location on the peninsula make it worth visiting.

I knew that Rauma should have beautiful old town (UNESCO heritage!), but I couldn’t help noticing how ugly the town is outside of center.

The old town is definitely a jewel! It’s bigger than in Porvoo and new buildings do not interfere with it at all.

But I would prefer to see more life there and I hope it’s not that empty all the time. Maybe it was just a combination of evening and Easter, which made the town look empty.

The other side of parade buildings has its own charm as well :)

Time to go further. One step out of historical center and the landscape is full of ugliness again. Two hypermarkets with huge parking lots, McDonalds with drive-in lane and a cafe tied to the gas station. This is a horribly wrong way of building towns.

I found a place to sleep not far from Rauma, on the lake Kaarojärvi. It was a very pleasant place, with a small beach, a shelter and a fireplace. But one thing surprised me: it was located between two houses. Usually it’s not allowed to camp close to houses and this place was designed to break the rule :)

I didn’t wonder much when a man arrived on his bicycle and started some kind of a small talk, but it seemed that his real intention was to know who I am and do I plan to stay there for a night. I fully understand his worries, but why not to ask directly? I would have answered.

Grilled sausages and beer for the dinner. You see, junk food again :)

Day distance: 69.8 km.

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