Day 49 – Monday 12th of August – Turku to Helsinki (302km)
There were only 155km, not 302 between my hostel in Turku and the one we had booked in Helsinki, but I had to check out from the former at 10 am and could not check in in the latter until 3 pm. Rather than get there three hours early and have to wait at the door or a café nearby, as I was not going to go sightseeing around the city in full motorbike gear, I decided to take the scenic route and follow all the smallest roads I could find along the coast. The problem was that it was raining very hard, but once you are wet, it does not matter whether you spend one or three extra hours on the road, so I went for it.
Luckily, the rain stopped in about an hour, just as I left the main road and started following a smaller one down to the coast. I took what was called The King’s Road, an old mailing road from the 14th Century that went from Bergen, in Norway, to Vyborg, in Russia. The sun came out, the roads were dry and I found a gorgeous route along the coast that more than made up for the morning rain. If any of the bikers reading this are planning to travel to Finland one day, make sure you visit this bit of road.
I got to Helsinki at 3 pm sharp, and checked in at the hostel. They had an underground car park that cost 17€ a day, but the very, very nice girl at reception told me that since it was a motorbike, I could park it anywhere close to a wall as long as it did not take space in car lots and gave me the keys. My girlfriend’s flight was landing at 5 pm, so I had just the time to do some shopping for dinner and find a place to exchange money – some of the borders I had crossed had no exchange offices, on other occasions I was too much in a hurry to look for one, and I had accumulated currency from Romania, Russia, Kazakhstan and Norway I needed to change, as well as some US dollars I was carrying in case of an emergency that I was no longer going to need. I was surprised to find that once I had exchanged all that back to euros, I had a nice extra bit of money I was not counting on.
At half past five, I got to the airport and found my girlfriend already waiting for me. It had been a month and a half since I had last seen her, and although travelling alone had not meant being lonely, as I had met a lot of wonderful people on my way, I had missed her a lot, and I was very happy that my change of route after the incident with the rim meant that we could get to spend more time together on holiday than we had originally thought. My trip so far had been quite an adventure, but I would not really call it a holiday, as it had been physically and mentally exhausting, and I had the feeling that now my real holidays were about to begin.
She had been in Helsinki twice already, so for the rest of my day she was my guide, and we visited the old part of town, which was beautiful. It was not raining, but the city had that very special light you only get to see when the sky is covered in really dark clouds but the sun has already started to go down and it shines under the clouds, lighting everything against the dark sky.
Back in the hostel, we redistributed all the luggage to make the best of the available space to get ready to hit the road for the last part of my trip – the following day we were going to take the ferry and cross to Tallinn, Estonia, to visit the Baltic States.