Our younger son’s birthday and a day out in Turku located on the south west coast of Finland was the plan, it’s Finland’s oldest city and former capital. We booked seats on a Pendolino service departing around 9.00 am. The train was very clean and comfortable for our two hour journey and arrived on time. It was somewhat cloudy but still warm enough to not need a coat.
Walking into the town centre takes a little time but soon we were approaching the bustling market square where tempting fresh produce was on offer. Little cafes were doing a brisk trade in coffees and pastries and customers were sitting on plastic chairs and stools between the market stalls enjoying their mid morning break.
Leaving the market, we turned right and headed down to the riverside. It’s always pleasant to take a walk along the riverbank admiring the boats moored along the quay. But today we were in for a surprise as quite by chance we’d arrived in Turku when an international market was taking place. Little stalls covered quite a lengthy strip of the bank on both sides of the River Aura. It was really bustling with activity, small groups of stalls from each country selling food and handicrafts e.g. from Belgium we spotted chocolates, wheat beer and waffles. What was most surprising though was to find a cluster of stalls from England!
We had never seen UK stalls in international markets before and we were eager to take a look to see how our culture was being showcased! The food stall was offering the culinary delights of fish and chips or pie and peas which were obviously proving popular as a lengthy queue had formed. Next we spotted a stall in the design of a London bus selling fudge, whilst another had selections of English cheese including Wensleydale (of Wallace and Gromit fame!). Lastly the UK had a pottery stall from Staffordshire selling Union Jack teapots, plates and mugs amongst other patriotic bits and pieces. There were stalls from as far away as Thailand and even Nepal, so lots of different foods for everyone to sample.
Feeling peckish, we found an attractive pub further along the riverbank where we enjoyed a delicious lunch buffet of soup, main course, salad and coffee. There was an outdoor terrace overlooking the river but we opted to sit indoors as it was still overcast. After finishing our lunch we continued along the same bank of the river passing the Maritime Museum on our way.
This is a very interesting museum which we’ve visited previously and included in the admission fee is a tour of one of the historic ships moored nearby (details can be found here).
After enjoying a walk around the castle grounds we retraced our steps, wandering past some historic ships before taking a ride on the small passenger ferry which constantly plies across the river at a part where there is a distance between bridges. Enjoying our few minutes of fun, we took in the views from the opposite bank whilst walking back towards the town centre where we found even more continental market stalls.
Being close to the majestic Turku Cathedral we decided to step in and take a look as its one place we hadn’t previously visited. This church is the mother church of the Lutheran Church of Finland and the country’s national shrine. The interior is really beautiful and certainly worth a visit.
Moving on, we took a stroll around the city centre and looked in the delightful old market hall. In typical Finnish style, the market hall features small stalls in ornate dark wood kiosks with each vendor’s name above. Customers can buy fresh produce and enjoy refreshments in one of the quaint, small cafes. One cafe is even in the style of a railway carriage and looks very cosy and inviting.
There was just enough time for us to enjoy a pot of tea before returning to Helsinki on board an inter-city train after a very pleasant outing to Turku.