Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Crossing the path of Erik XIV once again, this time in Turku

That Erik XIV certainly got around, albeit somewhat unwillingly. This is Turku Castle, or Åbo Slott, as Swedish speakers would refer to it, where our friend was imprisoned. It would seem that he was moved around quite a lot, to prevent anyone getting any ideas about putting him back on the throne, until it was eventually decided that poisoning him was best for everyone (except Erik, presumably).

Turku was our third stop on our circumnavigation of the northern Baltic Sea, having left Mariehamn on a surprisingly perfect afternoon, on the M/S Viking Grace, a vast, rather snazzy ferry which travels backwards and forwards between Stockholm and Turku, calling in the Åland Islands en route. It was, in retrospect, too early to leave Mariehamn and, likewise, too early to reach Turku. But that's part of the travel experience and, as I always tell Ros, we can always go back.

In truth, Turku is not an obvious tourist destination, and despite its status as one of the two EU Capitals of Culture in 2011 - Tallinn was the other - there is little to keep the questing traveller. We went to Naantali, a rather lovely old town masquerading as a ferry terminal - we stood where the map suggested that the terminal should be, but couldn't find any evidence that a ferry travels from there to Kapelskär via Längnas, even though it actually does. 

On our second day, we visited the castle. It is rather something, notable for having had, as one of its defences, bears which would savage unwary attackers. Apparently, this would now be considered cruel and unusual punishment, although anyone attacking a castle rather deserves all that they get, if you ask me. The English-speaking guide was very good value for the €2.50 that she cost, with a lot of interesting stories and some very un-Finnish humour.

The riverfront makes for a pleasant walk too, and the cathedral is imposing, but it isn't enough to make me think that I really ought to go back - just watch, there'll be an ALDE event there next year, now that I've said that...

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