I must admit that I had never heard about the Aland Islands till a couple of months ago. They are in the Gulf of Bothnia between Sweden and Finland. It seems that officially they belong to Finland, but they are sort of Swedish at heart, so they speak Swedish and actually have their own parliament, own number plates, stamps, etc. and belong to the European Union with some sort of special treaty that allows duty free trade. This for a region that we think has something like 30000 inhabitants.
Our own personal impression is that is a little archipelago with a myriad of tiny little islands that are linked by little ferries or bridges. I discover that Christian likes to spend the time between islands looking at himself in the mirror.
The little towns are placid and laid back, the coast line irregular and pretty and the sunsets, beautiful, of course. Also in some of the islands, there are soooooo many mosquitoes that by the end of our 4 day stay I have stopped counting all the bytes and just scratch in-distinctively everywhere.
It’s hard to take photos of the fauna and although we have seen quite some deers and rabbits while driving, only the birds pose for Christian, even if many don’t even know it.
Quiet evening walks provide time for personal reflection, like the quite water provides de perfect canvas for beautiful reflections.
A nice castle, a disproportionally big and beautiful post office built in the early years of the 19th Century by Tzar Alexander I, since back in the day the islands were Russian, and also the ruins of what must have been a magnificent Russian fort, complete the architectural highlights.
As it is Christian’s birthday, I thorroughly surf through the wisdom of internet searching for a nice restaurant. I’m lucky. I find a restaurant which is virtually in the middle of nowhere, where we enjoy the good cooking of a chef that mixes modernity and tradition. The crew is nice enough to let us camp on their premisses, so that we don’t have to drive after the feast.
The last day, before taking the ferry to Finland, we spend in the capital city, Mariehanm, with about 11.000 inhabitants. The gorgeous weather mixed with a kind sea breeze, the laid back attitude and the colourful houses, make you feel you are in a Caribbean city rather than a region of Finland. And then there’re some buildings like the bank, which I don’t know why, make you feel like you are in a life size board of a Monopoly game.