Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Biking in the Ǻland Islands

200 kilometers of extreme beauty is what we saw. Everything was beautiful in Ǻland, even the weather. Get ready for a whole lot of pictures because I couldn't stop taking them! Ǻland is an Autonomous State, over which Finland has sovereignty. Most residents are Swedish speakers. Their ethnicity is a touchy subject, which I've heard described as ethnic Swedes or Swedish-speaking Finns.
Hannele, a colleague from the lab, and I biked and camped through the islands, ferries and bridges. There were a few other cyclists around to keep us intermittent company, but we were mostly on our own. Some of the ferries were easy to catch. We just waited where the cyclists were gathered and a boat would come. Most of the other tourists were Swedish.
We piled all of the bikes on there and off we went!This is a Huvudfastet fort, which was built to defend the islands.
One of the islands has Kastelholm Castle. We stayed just long enough to learn how to say Kastelholm.

This was our our portable five star palace. It was nice and cozy, light, and easy to pack up every day!

Alot of the houses had old mills, or something like that. They looked cool but didn't appear to be in use anymore.

I almost fell into the water after this shot, but not quite!
We arrived to this dock, which was completely vacant. Actually the road ended into this dock. What are we supposed to do? We wondered. Trafficsomething? It looks like a schedule, but "it's" not open for very long. Oh wait. Look at that sign. Is that a button? I pressed it to see what would happen. Nothing happened, so I pressed it five or six more times. I felt like we were on Mars.
About five minutes later we could see a ferry coming from across the water. "Hey! It worked! We called ferry with the magic button. " If they were mad at me for pushing the button so many times, they didn't show it. The cemetery on Mariehamn had graves that dated back to the 1800s and were quite elaborate and well kept. Actually, everything was quite elaborate and well kept. Many people were living abroad when they died and came back to Aland to be buried.

We dropped by the church in Mariehamn, just before hopping on the ferry back home.
This is the monstrously huge ferry that takes me to Sweden and Aland. It's comfortable and cheap, especially for daytime cruises. It turns into drunken mayhem at night.

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