11 October 2020 23:28
4-Xtremes – Part 5: Surprises on Finland’s west coast
Series: 4-Xtremes – The World Tour
A ferry as a road, a pleasant encounter in a restricted military area and signs we could actually read: there were a few surprises in store for Andrea and Mike on the west coast of Finland. And elks in front of the camera too?
Hailuoto is an island off the west coast of Finland, quite a long way north. There’s a small airport there, a brewery, and delicious "Finnish summer soup" made with vegetables and salmon. Not to mention the elk tracks we saw on the sandy ground. But more on that later. First of all, come with us 750 kilometres back to the small port of Ekenäs in south-west Finland. That’s where this stage of our World Tour began: with the first of several surprises.
Since our school days, we’ve known that Finnish is a very difficult language, and you can hardly guess any words from another language. That’s why we were all the more surprised that we were actually able to decipher a lot of signs in Ekenäs. We only found out when we got there that especially here in the south-west, many people speak Swedish, which is much easier for foreigners to understand, and a lot of signs are in Swedish too. Since then, we’ve heard and read a lot of Finnish – and we still don’t understand a single word of it. Ekenäs with its old, brightly coloured wooden houses and a little market in the centre is definitely worth a visit.
From here we headed north, because we wanted to reach the North Cape before the first snow. We worked our way north through fishing villages and idyllically located camps. The further north you get, the less rocky the coast is and the more flat, sandy beaches there are. The trees aren’t as tall as in the south, and there is more moorland. And there’s one good thing that we noticed about all of the areas we’ve visited up to now: there have been virtually no mosquitoes.
At one place where we camped for the night by the beach, Mike wanted to check the brake linings of our Axor. He’d last done it in March 2019 in Russia when we changed the tyres during our first “4-Xtremes” tour. Unfortunately, the bolts had been done up so tightly that when he was unscrewing the fourth bolt with the torque multiplier, the ratchet broke in two despite being made of hardened steel. Mike used a lot of improvising talent to tighten the loosened bolts again – and had to postpone checking the brake linings.
Knee-deep in the moor.
A few days later, we visited a national park inland and walked through a large area of moorland. Aimée, our Malinois, ran straight off into the moor – and sank into the marsh straight away. Luckily we were able to pull her out by her collar. We didn’t realise just how huge and impressive the moor was until we flew our drone over it.
After a walk on the beach a few days later, we were greeted at our camp by a local who we certainly hadn’t expected to meet: a soldier. He informed us that we were on military grounds and that an exercise was currently being carried out. And what surprised us the most: the soldier was really friendly when he informed us, and he even apologised that the restricted area hadn’t been marked or cordoned off. He even recommended another beach to us. We reckon that if that episode had happened in a lot of other countries, things would have been quite different.
Free sea-water shower.
The other beach he’d recommended was indeed quite idyllic. We lit a camp fire and finished off the evening by the water. The further north we travelled, the cooler the evenings got. A cool wind even blows during the day too. We’d soon unpacked our sweaters, whilst the Finns were still going swimming in the sea... brrr.
The most recent surprise we had was on the crossing to the island of Hailuoto. The ferry which departs from near the city of Oulu is actually part of the official road network and is therefore free of charge. Initially, we were pleased that we’d got a place so close to the front of the boat... until the waves got much bigger and gave our Axor a sea-water wash. When back on the mainland the salty water really will need washing off.
But before that we explored the island on the narrow tracks that used to be used for forestry operations, and we also enjoyed the summer soup down at the port – and during our evening walks, we always set up our wildlife cameras on tree trunks, if we discover any animal tracks because we still haven’t met an elk. But we’re not giving up hope.
4-Xtremes – The World Tour.
A one-of-a-kind journey.
For eleven months, Andrea and Mike Kammermann were on the “4-Xtremes” tour with their Axor. Now they are on an even greater adventure. The pair from Switzerland will be on the road for three years and the RoadStars community will again be joining them on the trip! Always be up-to-date and don’t miss any of the breathtaking destinations that our adventurous couple are heading for.
You can find all the parts from the “4-Xtremes – The World Tour” series here.