The Archipelago trail – a bike tour in Finland – 3 Hyppeis to Nagu

My overnight B&B was Hyppeis Vardhus, an attractive traditional house on the waters’ edge.IMG_20150702_074302175_HDR

I have been unable to ascertain if Hyppeis is a recognised island or not. You certainly have to go over a bridge to get there but the area always seems to be referred to as Houtskär (or Houtskari in Swedish). My room was at the front of the house on the right hand side. This photo was taken in the morning before I left but when I arrived that corner of the house was, and had been, in full sun for hours. With no open windows it was like an oven. There was only one window that opened so after doing that I went to the landing stage in the garden and had a swim; bracing but just what was required.

The room, after it had cooled, was fine but there was no shower curtain and water flooded the bathroom/toilet and there was no wifi. The food was expensive, I thought, but very tasty. That evening I had fish of the day with mixed veg followed by pannacotta with rhubarb and a glass of wine. Breakfast was average; no cereal selection except for DIY porridge. So I would probably only give them 3 out of 5 but in this sparsely populated area there was virtually no competition.

I was on my bike again by nine and heading to Kittuis and a ferry to the island of Korpu. I just missed the 09.20 ferry and had just over an hour to wait for the next one. Maybe if I had not stopped to stare at the elk I would have made it! I went for a ride around but there was really nothing close by that was worth spending time on. There was a cafe on a nearby camp site but it had not opened for the day. I was entertained for a while by a barge and accompanying tugs bringing a floating crane into the landing stage.IMG_20150702_100422030

It was a really nice day and I was quite grateful for the shade of a tree as I waited for the ferry to arrive. The trip across the water had the usual stunning views that simply cannot be captured by cameraIMG_20150702_110606006

On Korpo (Swedish name; Finnish is Korppoo) I visited the main eponymous village. It had a small stream passing through the centre and pretty wooden houses with a couple of shops, a post office and a restaurant or two. There was a small market underway, with about 6 stalls, and I took some time to wander around and did some shopping and posted cards. While walking round I was nearly run over by an elderly gentleman with a push along shopper. It was similar to one my mother used to have but had rear wheels in a y-type formation with two foot platforms. He was on a slight gradient and scooting down with his feet off the ground on the platforms.

Korpo is another Swedish-speaking island. The island population is under 1000 but in summer, as with the other islands, it reaches nearly 10 times that number. I certainly noticed a big increase in the numbers of cars on the ferries, particularly near the weekend when there were long queues. On my way to the next ferry I stopped at a small cafe and sat out in the shade while eating carrot cake with a coffee.

The ferry went to Parnas on the island of Nagu. On Nagu the tour instructions recommended taking a small road that quickly became a dirt track. This avoided the main road which was good but the track had pot holes so it was mostly head down stuff. I almost missed spotting a couple of deer but readily spotted a couple of dead, run-over snakes. The track went for about 15km through forest or farmland and the afternoon was very hot. At the end of the track I rejoined the road and soon after entered the village of Nagu, the main centre on the island. It was quite a surprise. There were few houses around but down by the water there was a bank, two supermarkets and a clutch of other shops. I had a look around and a rest in the shade.

Onward for the last stretch of the days’ ride to Vastergard B&B… It was about 11km through farmland and forest and, with a considerable head wind and the heat, it was a bit of a struggle. I was very pleased to arrive. IMG_20150703_074722552_HDRI was met by the owner Tom who showed me around and told me about the landing stage, about 1km away, where swimming was possible. I took full advantage and followed the swim with a shower (one of the most complex – lots of knobs and jet outlets – I had ever seen. It even had a computer screen inside the shower) and did some unpacking etc.IMG_20150704_094535806I took my diary and map over to the communal kitchen and had a beer from the honesty box provision before dinner.

Dinner was included in my tour package and I ate with five other guests, with Tom as our host. It was a delicious meal, the main course being an enormous salmon with potatoes and salad. The other guests were two Brits on a slightly different bike tour and two Finnish ladies. We were amazed when Tom revealed that the ladies and I had been on precisely the same bike tour and had stayed in the same places for the previous four nights yet we had not seen each other before!

I was staying two nights in Vastergard and I decided to continue the tour route on the next day and turn round and return when I reached the suburban area of Turku. Tom said this was best done by going as far as Pargas, then he gave me an alternative route back which avoided too much repetition. He said that Pargas was worth a look around and beyond that the countryside became quite built up. I had planned on returning to Turku for the following night then returning to Helsinki for a quick look around before my flight home. But Tom suggested I would be able to go direct to Helsinki and he would change my reservations and find a hotel for me in Helsinki so I could have more time there to look around. And this is what he did: all part of the excellent service.


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