Ferries, duty-free booze and changing plans

When I was young, taking the ferry from Finland to Sweden was super exciting. To me the ships were no different from the one on a TV show I used to love called Love Boat.

Anyone remember that? Let me know in the comments if you watched it, too.

Now, the ferries don’t seem as glamorous anymore, but they are still good fun. Perhaps too much fun…

A few days prior to our crossing, I emailed Viking Line, which is one of the companies operating ferries between Finland and Sweden. They kindly gave us 50% off the normal price for two people, two bikes and a basic cabin. We are really grateful for Viking Line supporting our fundraiser in this way.

Helsinki from the sea

We also looked forward to one more night in a proper bed before being back in the tent. But once again, things didn’t go quite as planned, and we spent far less time in the beds than intended.😁

On Tuesday morning, we had another fabulous breakfast Päivi prepared for us before she drove us back to Helsinki.

In Helsinki, we left Justin at Päivi’s workshop to give the bikes a clean and a service and then she and I drove to the Halti store in Helsinki. Halti is a Finnish brand that does a full range of camping and outdoor gear, and our tent was from them.

On one of the rainy nights, we discovered a little problem with the tent. It let in water when it rained. We woke up one morning with wet feet. Definitely not ideal.

Suomenlinna Fortress

I emailed Halti, and they kindly arranged a new tent for us that we could pick up in Helsinki. Not only that, they swapped the tent for a newer version that was lighter and therefore more suitable for bike touring. I will write about the new tent in more detail when I do a review post of all our equipment.

Tent successfully swapped, we drove back to the workshop, got all the gear back on the bikes and we were off again.

For once, we actually left ourselves plenty of time to get to the port. We also left nothing more important behind than a spare water bottle. We still had two each, so it wasn’t a problem and we would not go short of water.

Moments before sunset

Anyway, we got to the port in good time and even had to wait for a while before they let us onboard.

When you take your bike with you on a ferry, they are left with the cars. There is no access to the bikes once the ferry leaves, so you need to take what you need with you. It’s a good idea to have everything you want to take with you ready in a pannier or two. Of course, we hadn’t thought that far ahead, so had to scramble a few bits together before being ushered upstairs.

Our idea was to use the cabin to its full advantage and have another good night’s sleep, so we’d be ready for a full day’s cycling as soon as we got to Sweden.

It was a beautiful sunny evening as we left Helsinki. We watched the ferry leave Finland behind before doing some duty-free shopping. We got a load of chocolate to keep us going on the bike and some duty-free beer. The plan was for the beer to last us a long way into Sweden and avoid buying expensive beer from the supermarket. Did the plan work out? Have a guess. 😂

Sunset at sea

You might wonder about duty-free alcohol between Finland and Sweden. The ferries stop on an island called Ahvenanmaa (Åland in Swedish) which is part of Finland but has an autonomy. I don’t claim to understand it but somehow this means they have different taxation. And which is why we still get duty-free stuff on the ferries as long as they stop there on route.

We took our chocolate and beers into the cabin, thinking we’d drink a couple while planning our route through Sweden followed by an early night. But after a couple of beers, we thought it might be nice to check out the ferry a bit.

Armed with a few duty-free beers each, we set off to explore. And found a bar where a band was playing.

We found some seats just outside the bar where we could enjoy the music and our own drinks, and soon Justin was popping back to the cabin for a few top up beers. Whether we got intoxicated by the first bit of live music since COVID or by the beers, when the band stopped, we didn’t head back to the cabin.

Oh no, we learnt there was more live music in the downstairs bar. What followed was some more alcohol and a lot of dancing. 💃🕺

I might already had a few duty-free beers by this point 😂

I’m not sure what time we got to bed, but I felt like shit the next morning.

I still felt tipsy when we went for breakfast. Maybe that’s why we ended up with several boiled eggs, some helpings of cheese and ham, few bread rolls and a couple of handfuls of little tubs of butter in a bag as we left the breakfast buffet. Anyone else guilty of takeaways from breakfast buffets?

Food for the road, we thought. Save a bit of money on food since our plan to save on beer didn’t work out. 😆

Looking and feeling far less refreshed than we should have been, we got off the boat. We were supposed to head south straight away. Did that happen?

Of course not!

Until next time!

At the time of writing there is still time to donate to our fundraiser. All monies donated go directly to The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity

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