Sunday, November 1, 2015

Biking rugged gravel roads towards Sattmark campground

Day one of our Finnish summer bike trip on the Turku Archipelago Trail started off late in the afternoon. For some reason we had pictured this Finnish bike trail to be flat as a pancake but boy were we wrong. Well equipped with maps and directions from VisitTurku we headed out on the road being well-surprised by the steep hill in Turku that was waiting us and would lead us to road 110 towards Kaarina. We quickly discovered that some of the biking rules differed from our Danish habits and we were particularly confused whenever we had to cross the pedestrian crossing with our bikes (this is a no go in Denmark!). From Kaarina we turned onto road 180 - the actual Archipelago Trail - and slowly we saw ourselves leaving the caotic city life behind and pedalled our way into natures tranquility. In all honesty we actually had a rough start. We both battled with extreme hunger but neglected to satisfy our cravings as we were determined to reach camping ground (32km) before night. As we entered the countryside, the paved biking paths suddenly turned into rugged gravel roads and let me tell you; we struggled. Better yet my saddle decided to fall off the bike after we had made a few wrong turn. At that point we just laughed tragiccomic at each other cos what the hell had we gotten ourselves into. Spirits were high, nevertheless. This was what we wanted: Us two knuckleheads throwing ourselves into unknown grounds - experiencing both the good and the bad of active vacation, where nothing can erase your physical and mental pain except for your own power of will.

* Okay, we might be exaggerating. In the hindsight it wasn't that bad but in the moment we seriously felt like battling the devils work.
Our first night on the Turku Archipelago Trail was spent at a small campsite at Sattmark Kaffe & Safka in Sattmark in Pargas. There wasn't a single soul in sight when we first arrived very late in the evening. All shops were closed and no tents where to be found - a n y w h e r e. We were baffled by this ghost-town like state that Sattmark was in. Where were all the people? And was this really a campsite? After staring a good few minutes on the map at the parking area, we tried to figure out where to pitch our tent. Suddenly, out of the blue a young Finnish lady came to our rescue. She was staying with her family in one of the three cabins available for rent - a well-practiced summer tradition of their own, she told us. Gladly she showed us around on the small camping ground and pointed out where the servicebuilding with hot shower and toilet facilities was located. We definitely didn't complain about the luxury of having it all almost to ourselves. As the sun was slowly setting we quickly assembled the tent and got ourselves settled in for the night.
Mouthwatering BBQ buffet with everything two exhausted girls could ever only dream of! - Served at Sattmark Kaffe & Safka
A stone throw away from the camping ground you will find the café and an accompanying fish- and vegetable market. During the day the shops are open and this makes Sattmark a good stopover for both short term and long term refreshment. Sattmark is located next to the water and there is a guest pier making it possible for travelers by boat to swing by. If you ever get the chance to travel the trail during summer make sure to drop by Sattmark Kaffe & Safka on a Sunday evening as they serve the most delicious grill buffet, which is bound to provoke some serious mouthwatering. Unaware, we returned to Sattmark exactly on a Sunday evening with our batteries completely drained and with the prospect of yet another supper with ryebread and canned mackerel (budget travelling at its finest). Our energetic state was low at this point so it was such a delightful surprise to be blissfully taken away by the aroma of the smoking barbeque and even more so to be dearly welcomed by the smiling staff. We had returned to heaven and our energy stores were revived with new excitement! We never got to experience Sattmark Kaffe & Safka during the more lively hours of the day but we would love to return to see the place full of life and to try some of their homemade pastries and freshly smoked Finnish fish.
Morning walk between the tall trees on the 5 km Sattmark Walk Way - all trails marked with blue signs
In the Sattmark area you have the possibility to do some easy walks called the Sattmark Walk Ways and Lenholmen Nature Trail. We had a go with the first one during an early morning while we were waiting for our tent to dry. All the Sattmark Walk Ways (2.5 km, 5 km and 11 km) start at the campsite and all routes are marked with blue signs, making it pretty much impossible to get lost out there. Being from Scandinavia this walk was not particularly mindblowing but we did appreciate our time spent out there in nature. It was a good way to get them good old legs ready for pounding some more metal as we continued our bicycle trip towards Nagu.

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4