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Lappland Trip - Day 9 - Åland Islands


N 60.18682°, E 19.64616°


The Åland Islands gave us a splendid welcome. As we sailed to the south of them we spotted a total of three white-tailed eagles, two on the wing and one in a pine tree right next to the sea.
First impressions of the islands themselves are very favourable. There's not much traffic and everything is very sanitised. Roads and cycleways are immaculate and the landscapes are pretty much unspoiled. There's agricultural land, naturally, but most of the place seems to be a mixture of untrammelled pine / birch forest and heath-like habitat.

We've visited a couple of ancient churches already, including the oldest wooden church on the Islands. The islanders seem very proud of their public places and there are also some incredibly beautiful private dwellings around and about. So far, there's zero sign of a seedy underbelly. 'Affluent' springs to mind. Their 'Welcome to Åland' signs proclaim they are autonomous and demilitarised. I get the sense everyone here is very proud of this corner of the earth.

The islands are indeed an anomaly in terms of independence. Another quirk is that they are Finnish, but Swedish is the predominant language.

Muscle cars! Even madder than Sweden. In just a couple of hours I've seen absolutely mint 60s / 70s Camaros, GTOs, Chargers, and Mustangs. It's nuts! There must be more classic muscle per square kilometre here than anywhere else on the planet.

Off tarmac, the gravel roads here provide for brilliant cycling. We've both had a ride out and thoroughly enjoyed the general feeling of a very chilled island existence.

Overnighting proved a little tricky but a bit of persistence turned up the spot shown at the co-ordinates... there are many, many worse places in the world to be.

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