Freestyling Finland

We left the outdoors and the silence that comes with nature and drove south to Rauma. We had bags full of washing as we hadn’t been able to do anything with it for weeks so we stopped in a rough-looking city before heading to Rauma and did a family trip to the laundrette- only to be met with racks of open porn magazines.

Rauma was founded in 1442, making it the third oldest town in Finland and it shows. The free overnight parking is situated directly besides the quaint town so it couldn’t have been more perfect. The 18th and 19th century wooden city centre makes it feel like you’ve walked straight into a Wild West film. Its charm still lingered along with its beautiful colours and cobbled streets. We had arrived out of season so we had the streets, centres, markets and second hand shops all to ourselves. The silence that accompanied us around should have made you feel out of place or uneasy but somehow it only added to its aesthetic. What I loved most about Rauma was its character and lack of tourism (in our case) but mainly what drew me in was its uniqueness to any other town we had visited in Scandinavia so far; so all in all I recommend!

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Outside Rauma lies Sammallahdenmäki- a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Bronze Age burial site forms the largest most varied and complete burial site from the Scandinavian Bronze age, including 36 burial cairns. Since we are interested in most ancient sites it was extremely rewarding and a sight to behold and fit perfectly with our earlier viewing of a Viking burial site in Denmark, Petroglyphs (rock art) in Sweden and other sites in Norway (from this trip). When they were built, it is said that the sea reached the shores of the burial cairns.

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Turku is a city situated on the Aura river in the southwest coast of Finland (oldest city in Finland) with its main feature being the 13th century Turku castle, a medieval fortress. The overnight parking (around £5) was conveniently across the road from the castle so we accidentally spent a good deal of time inside (very easy to do).

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The ‘old town’ didn’t consist of very much and we were a little disappointed but the cathedral and atmosphere of the city as a whole was beautiful.

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For free we were able to stop near Finland’s capital, Helsinki (just a basic car park by the zoo). I enjoyed all the Scandinavian capitals (apart from Oslo which we did not have time to visit) and Helsinki was no disappointment. We have found that if we camp in nature for a while before hitting a town or city, the sight is more appreciated rather than forcing ourselves through busy streets, dragging our feet behind because we had visited too many cities (which will happen once we hit the Baltic states). We decided to do the 40 min walk into the city rather than hit the subway and just like Amsterdam and Stockholm, the effort was worth it as you always see things you wouldn’t have seen otherwise and appreciate the destination.

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We visited the city cathedral and the Uspenski and then set to wandering as we usually find ourselves doing. The city did not feel in the slightest bit crowded as some do but rather the opposite which made the visit even more enjoyable. The mixture of Art Nouveau and Neoclassical architecture was striking and added even more character to the striking city.

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Markets packed the streets and market squares, pianists penetrated the air with their melodic sounds and the Gulf of Finland dazzled in the autumn sun.

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