One of the first things I did when we moved here was search for a running route. I don’t need variation or even dramatic sights. I do need something that I can vary my distance and that I can start running once I walk out my door and punch the button on my watch. I don’t want to take a bus or the metro somewhere to run. In Montreal I spent a lot of time running a very urban path even though I circled several parks. While I am not exactly running in the country here in Finland, the path along the river feels rural especially compared to crossing Rue St. Laurent at mid-day. I haven’t quite been here a full month and already I love this route and I can’t wait to see it in different seasons. The river here is similar to parks in Montreal, in that it is really the heart of the city where people go and hang out to read or socialize, and not something you visit just when friends or family are in town visiting. If I turn left at the river, I am in the city center in just two minutes. But if you turn right, you can quickly be at a spot like above that doesn’t even feel like a city. Not a day goes by that I don’t make one turn at the river or another.
Trying to get in a little more local sightseeing while the weather is still nice. Turku is small, and most travel sites about Finland focus only on Helsinki (or northern lights trips up north). Tim and I haven’t really hit the museums yet, but wandering around new neighborhoods and visiting churches has proven to be a really lovely way to spend the afternoon.
And let me tell you that St. Michaels is one of my new favorites. It isn’t super old, it was completed in 1905 and the neighborhood around it is all busy streets and really unremarkable buildings. But approaching the church is pretty dramatic. The church rises up on a grassy hill, completely dominating its own block. The exterior is striking, with huge spires and giant pointy gothic revival arches and windows. Getting a good picture of the whole thing is surprisingly difficult, especially with the busy streets and construction surrounding the block.
The Luostarinmäki Handicrafts Museum is just a short walk from the busy city center, but feels like another world once you step inside. The wooden cottages were built on this site in the late 1700s and early 1800s as work and living spaces. The Great Fire of Turku in 1827 devastated 75% of the city, including the historic downtown but the Luostarinmäki site and cottages were spared.
The research group that Tim is working for at the University scheduled an all day conference on a cruise. Turns out that it is as cost effective as reserving another space and ordering in catering for two meals, teas and snacks for five people. I joined as a possible future member of the research team and was introduced to the project.
We left the Turku harbor at 8:15 in the morning on the ship above. Maaaaybe 50 people were on the ship, so it seemed pretty empty. We had buffet breakfast, took a quick tour of the ship and settled into one of the conference rooms downstairs. Turns out watching islands float past is pretty conducive to a productive meeting. What a beautiful place to get inspired by!
When I was using Google maps to figure out my river running route, I was zooming around and saw something labeled kirkko, which is one of the few Finnish words I recognize. I did a quick search, thinking it was nothing special and realized that I found a church that was built in the 15th century. In North America, buildings dating from the late 18th century are considered old, so I am constantly impressed by the age of things in Europe.
This would be a bit of a hike from the city center on foot, but surely there is a bus route in that direction. I have just pumped up the tires on the bike that was left to us by our landlords, and I knew that it would be easy to get to – just off my regular running trail, maybe a 15 minute ride.