Friendly Finns

Today we arrived to Turku, the biggest Finnish city on our route towards the south. So far, we have sailed to two quite small cities along the west coast and three even smaller communities on islands in the archipelago.

We are excited to see what Finnish city life is like and what the people we will meet here will be like, but first we thought we could reflect a little on the people we have met so far – mostly caused by the fact that we really feel lucky to have met so many great people in Finland already.

Our experiences started in Kiili, the first harbour we got to. It wasn’t really a town, but more an outdoor museum, displaying how life in Finland was like many years ago. Some of the houses in the museum had been moved there from other towns in the area to preserve them. Although you should think this to be a somewhat touristy attraction, we were the only boat in the harbour and all the guests, cars and campers that we saw seemed to be Finnish – even in the cafe we only managed to communicate that we wanted cake and coffee, but we didn’t succeed in explaining that we had arrived by boat and needed help to figure out how to pay the harbour fee. This was probably mostly because of the language barrier, but maybe our sleep-deprivation from the night sail also contributed to the communication problems. The next day we found a QR code at the harbour – it turned out that you could pay online by scanning this code.

One of the houses exhibited in the museum

From this first experience we got the feeling that meeting people here in Finland would maybe be more complicated than it had been so far when travelling in Sweden. Also, it seemed that the harbour facilities were quite different, as well as the number of sailors being drastically lower.

After Kiili we sailed to Laitakari – on the 50 mile trip we didn’t see a single boat, and we were the only guest boat in the harbour – but luckily we nonetheless succeeded in meeting some Finns.

First, we went to take a look at the big wooden sailboat in the harbour. Online it had said that there would be a sailing trip the next day, and we understood that it would be possible to join for the price of 20€. As we went to talk to them, it turned out that this trip had a pirate-theme, was sold out and only allowed kids to join. Of course we were a little sad not to be able to join this pirate trip on a beautiful traditional sailboat, but luckily the young volunteer asked us if we would like a tour of the boat. Of course! It turned out, that Laitakari had once been a ship building city, but the tradition had died out as in so many other places, when motorised metal ships took over the sea. But here, they had decided to revive the tradition some years ago, so in 2006 they started building ‘Ihana’, which went for the first sail in 2011. The volunteer had been there for several summers now and her big dream was to join for one of the Tallship Races one day. We hope she will succeed!

Ihana leaving the harbour for her pirate trip with kids
The ship was built from 2006 to 2011 by a big group of local volunteers
The inside of Ihana

After our tour of Ihana, we succeeded reaching the harbour master (once again all the information at the harbour was in Finnish) – she came out to the harbour, and as a Finnish sailboat had actually joined Désirée at the guest pier, the sauna had been turned on and we had one of the nicest sauna-experiences on our trip so far. The harbour master seemed excited to have a Danish boat visiting the harbour and wanted to hear more about our trip. She shared that her son was also taking a sabbatical year at the moment, interrailing through Europe.

The harbour office had quite weird opening hours – Wednesday-Sunday, 3pm-10pm. We didn’t understand why until Wednesday arrived, and it turned out that other than the little harbour-side-business, the harbour master was actually running the local community sauna as well as a little cafe. We went there out of curiosity and sat down to play a card game. While playing, we observed how all types of Finns would appear, pay a little fee and then enter the sauna. While her guests were in the sauna, the harbour-cafe-sauna-master would bake delicious cakes, pies and prepare hot drinks, and once the guests were done sweating and swimming, they would come by for a beverage and something to eat. This went on all evening, and we were amazed not only by the number but mostly the variety of people that came to make use of this public sauna. Young, old, families, friends, individuals. Such a great concept!

At our next stop in Finland, we were at an isolated island with a big lighthouse on it – Kylmäpihlaja. Here, we found a fire-place with a roof over it, and decided to cook our dinner over the fire, while the rain was falling around us. As we were starting the fire, two Finnish women asked if they may join, and we ended up sitting there for several hours talking about all kinds of things, while we were grilling our food and exchanging parts of our menus for the others to try out (okay, admittedly they were better prepared for grilling and had much more interesting things to offer us) – this way we learned about grilling dates and eating them with Brie for desert – yum!

Grilling on Kylmäpihlaja

In the next two harbours we visited – Katanpää and Iniö – there were about fifteen boats in each harbour, but in both of them we were the only non-Finnish one! Several sailors told us, that the main season is over now, as school starts again tomorrow here in Finland. In Katanpää they even raised a Danish guest flag to acknowledge our arrival, and the same happened here in Turku after our arrival today 🇫🇮🇩🇰

A little Danish flag was put up after our arrival to Katanpää
Dannebrog in Turku harbour 🇩🇰

This list of experiences with Finnish people and traditions so far could go on – we have had such a nice time here with many friendly encounters. Maybe this has to do with us being a little ‘exotic’, arriving here in a Danish boat – but mostly we are convinced, that the Finnish people are just very kind. We look forward to meeting more people in Turku, as we will most likely have to stay there for quite some days now due to a serious storm coming our way, hopefully ending on Wednesday.

Stormy weather is heading our way! Screenshot from the Windfinder app

Maybe we will take the train to Helsinki or Tampere one of the days. If anyone has tips on things to do in Turku or day trips that we could go on, feel free to leave a comment here!


Hey there! Feel free to leave us a reply to the post here in either English, Danish or German. We love to read them all 🙂

Responses to “Friendly Finns”

  1. Twan Biemans Avatar

    Liv, Paul,

    How nice to read about your adventures in Finland on the very same day (okay, it is early morning now so actually it was yesterday) I met a very friendly Finnish sailor called Richard. That was in Wick, Scotland.

    His boat ‘Lucky’ has its gone harbour in Turku and he went all to Bilbao, Spain.

    Enjoy your time sailing!

    Greetings from Helmsdale, Scotland! 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

    1. Paul Avatar

      wow, that is impressive, quite a way. Turku was so nice and not too crowded. We also got the impression that people were proud when we told them that we’re only visiting Turku and not Helsinki.

      Greetings from the Ålands.

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