Our plan for today was to visit the town of Rauma, a small town about 57 miles north of Turku on the west coast of Finland. The old part of Rauma is a Unesco World Heritage Site, because it is a well-preserved example of a historic wooden town. Rauma isn't on a train line, so the easiest way to get there is by bus. As luck would have it, our hotel is situated just opposite Turku's bus station, so we didn't have far to go when we stepped outside this morning.
That turned out to be for the best, because as soon as we got outside it began to rain. At first just lightly, but within a few minutes it was raining quite heavily. I was aware that the weather forecast didn't look great for today, but I hadn't expected the rain to be torrential! Fortunately our bus arrived promptly and we were able to get on almost straight away. I'd bought the bus tickets online in advance, which had saved some money, although when I bought them the website said that it wasn't possible to reserve seats. Some people obviously had reserved seats though, as we were asked to move from the place we first tried to sit by someone who had a reservation. This being Finland rather than the Balkans, we thought we'd better comply
The journey from Turku to Rauma took around 1 hour 20 minutes and it poured with rain the entire way, so much so that I was slightly disappointed when we arrived and had to get off the bus. We got soaked just in the few minutes it took to walk from the bus into the bus station, which didn't bode well for the rest of the day. The bus station had some free maps of Rauma, so we sat down to consult one of those and plan out where we were going to do. Miraculously, while we were doing this the weather took a sudden turn for the better and by the time we stepped outside again it had actually stopped raining
It was still a bit grey though, as we left the bus station behind and walked towards the centre of town.
I thought we'd seem some odd sculptures in Turku yesterday evening, but we soon found something in Rauma that surpassed them
Rauma is not just famous for being a world heritage site but also famous, among speakers of Esperanto at least, for being the place where the Manifesto of Rauma was signed, during an Esperanto Youth Congress in the town in 1980. This gave birth to the Esperanto ideology called "raumism" which, in simple terms, states that Esperanto has a culture of its own that is worth preserving and promoting for its own sake, regardless of whether or not Esperanto is ever likely to achieve world domination. People who subscribe to raumism are called raumists and are sometimes at odds with people who subscribe to the alternative Esperanto ideology of finvenkismo, which is more about actively promoting Esperanto so that everybody speaks it (literally, working towards the "fina venko"/final victory; the day when Esperanto will have achieved its goal of being the world's official second language).
Anyway, Tim was excited to be here and he'd brought his Esperanto flag
We started walking into the old town and soon got our first view of the beautiful wooden houses.
The only thing which didn't seem to be wooden was the church.
This was the Church of the Holy Cross, and it was pretty even if it wasn't wooden
I'd been impressed by the flowers in Turku yesterday, and there were some really nice displays in Rauma too.
From the church, it didn't take us long to find the central square which is home to Rauma's old town hall.
As you can see, the sky was started to brighten up a bit now and we could even see a bit of blue breaking through the clouds
We wandered through the wooden streets.
There are approximately 600 buildings within this old part of Rauma.
The oldest only date from the eighteenth century.
Unfortunately, much of the town was destroyed by serious fires in 1640 and 1682.
We passed the ruins of the Church of the Holy Trinity, which was also a casualty of the 1640 fire.
I loved how colourful the buildings were
I'm not quite sure what I'm doing in this photo, but if you think there's a woman sitting on bench behind me, you'd be wrong...
...it's actually a rather creepy Finnish statue of a woman sitting on a bench!
One of the signs we'd seen earlier had indicated that the Bothnian Sea was only 1.9km away, so once we'd finished exploring the old town we decided to go for a stroll and see whether we could find it.
We walked for quite a long time, but the best we found was this small marina.
The rest of the coastline here seemed quite industrial, with what looked like a cargo port and lots of warehouses. We had a nice walk back into town alongside the river though
We were both pretty hungry by this point, so stopped at a Nepalese restaurant in the main square for some lunch. Possibly a slightly bizarre choice when in Finland, but there didn't seem to be many places open in Rauma on a Sunday! We both had a chicken tikka masala, with rice, naan bread and some sort of poppadoms for €16.90 each, which didn't seem too bad (by Finnish standards!). It was all delicious, and after we'd finished eating we had time for another stroll around the old town before it was time to catch our return bus to Turku.
Rauma is a really pretty place and we were extremely lucky that we were able to enjoy it without getting soaked