- for the moreish Åland blend see this post from last year -
The hope for cooler weather with more reasonable temperatures, yes that was in vain. Because despite the nearness to the sea and the odd breeze it was indeed hotter than in Sweden, and the amount of walking in the blazing hot sun, the amount of water called for and drank that day will be remembered... Now let's start from the beginning.
It was sunny, it was breezy, it was warm, yes we spent all the way there and all the way home on deck. The views were lovely archipelagoey and open-seaey. And those hours pretty much got me a decent tan to back for the rest of the summer...
The little red hop-on-off train that rolls up and down the streets of Mariehamn. No we didn't take it. Felt walking would be great. Only the estimated walk to brunch place was way longer that one would have thought. And it was hot, oh so hot.
We walked. And walked. And then some.
Bönan (The Bean), in the harbour quarters.
Where I opted for this what turned out to be substantial sized, not the least bit unhealthy bowl of vegan something something. It was nice, but too big a portion for one and it would have benefited from some real seasoning. But pretty to look at. And sitting there in the shade, with breezes, relaxing, drinking a lot and just be was really, really lovely.
Then we walked around Mariehamn - a town which is an eclectic mix of horrid 1960ies style buildings, gorgeous turn of the century wooden villas and then modern buildings which seem strangely out of place to me - enjoyed the architecture than was enjoyable, fantastically so, sighed over the ones that weren't.
browsed the shops - which are a rather limited amount and well, apart from the few quirky design shops, and shops where one might find Moomin things and Marimekko loveliness it feels strangely un-modern to me, like a step 20 years back in time, which as an overall feel definitely has its both pros and cons.
Åland is an autonomous, demilitarized part of Finland, but the official language spoken is Swedish. The Åland Swedish is quite a charming kind of in parts old-fashioned Swedish with its own regional expressions. The expression for the Åland self-government building is very far from what we would call it in Sweden for example, Självstyrelsegården means "self-government court/farm" and has a slightly comical ring to it for a Swede. An endearing humorous ring.
At charming café Bagarstugan (The Baker's cottage) we stopped for coffee and cake - after such a frugal brunch we certainly deserved that -
and then we walked some more.
Before we headed back to the ferryboat we stopped by the other delightful café Svarta Katten (The Black Cat, such a must stop obviously) where we enjoyed a couple of delicious - and once again supersized - fruit smoothies.
All and all a perfectly wonderful little day trip, affordable and unpretentious. Not too fond of the ferryboat-trip and its sad, tipsy, drunk characters, but taking the boat from Kapellskär port (about one hour's drive north of Stockholm) instead of Stockholm city the trip only take a couple of hours and in the summer it's really enjoyable to sit on deck. And the wi-fi is free. And one can do a bit of taxfree browsing.
It's good to take the car with you, as we did last year, and be able to see more of Åland than only Mariehamn. But if one go there off-season or on a weekend, I would recommend an overnight stay due to limited opening hours / the boat timetable. When we took the car with us in late August we had planned to see much more than we managed due to just that. But I'm thinking a wee future blog-post about that day would be nice anyway. So more Åland it will be!