Åland Islands / Meeting Pekka Lehti


Today I enquired about the ferry schedule to the Åland Islands. The Ålands are an autonomous province of Finland, and they are located between the southwest Finnish coastal city of Turku and the Swedish capital Stockholm. The islands are officially Swedish-speaking, and since I know no Swedish, there might be a problem 😉 The total population is 25.000 with 11.000 living in the capital, Mariehamn.

I can catch the 05.50 train tomorrow morning from Helsinki to Turku, which goes straight to the Turku Harbour. From there I grab the Viking Line ferry at 08.45 to Långnäs, Åland. Långnäs is 30 km east of Mariehamn, and since this is supposed to be a winter biking holiday, I will get off the ferry and start my cycling to Mariehamn right away. Arrival time in Långnäs is 14.25. In Mariehamn I will stay two or three nights at Gästhem Kronan. I will decide when I get there if I want to stay two or three nights. It probably will be two, since I will only be taking my backpack with me and I do not want to burden myself. Also, if I stay until Saturday, I will be racing from Åland to Turku to Helsinki, where I will then have to grab the train to start my all-night journey to Rovaniemi that evening.

The total ferry fare plus bike (freight) charge is only 34 euros ( = $48 Canadian). Gästhem Kronan charges 25€ each night. I will ride around the islands and take the inter-island ferries.

I hope to visit the Mariehamn library and use the Internet there to write to all of you about my trip.

This morning I bought $200 CDN worth of Norwegian “crowns”. Note the quotation marks since I can never remember the proper plural in Norwegian. I got 1150 NOK. Since I plan to pay for my hotel in north Norway by credit card, perhaps $200 CDN is too much to pay for meals and some souvenirs. However I have heard that Norway is expensive–and we’re talking Oslo, not some town like Vardø as far away from Oslo as you can get! I might need all that money and more.


This morning I met Värttinä bassist Pekka Lehti at Café Esplanad. I was delighted to share with him my photos from my 2000 summer in Finland. We talked about music of course, Värttinä’s time in Toronto in 1996, Pekka’s children, and the new music he is involved in. Pekka very kindly gave me a copy of the new book about Värttinä, Korkeelta ja kovvoo as thanks for translating and editing the English on his mp3 website. I was also very happy to get four new CDs from Pekka: two by his “hectic and meditative” quartet ZetaBoo, ZetaBoo and [MediZine]; and two by Värttinä accordionist Markku Lepistö: his new solo album Silta; and his work with Petri Hakala pelimannien jäljillä. Thank-you Pekka!


An early night tonight. I must be at the train station, with my bicycle, to catch the 05.50 train to Turku.

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