Eyes of Faith: Renewed

I’ve reached a milestone of sorts… continue to journey with me over at

Eyes of Faith Renewed

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St Olav Waterway: Day 4 Pensar – Nagu (Pensar Island to Nauvo)k

Day 4: Thursday 27th June

Today started bright and early – very early.

The first ferry of the day from Pensar to Kirjais is request only and leaves from Pensar at 8:15am. The hotel had kindly ordered the ferry for us a few days in advance and while we were waiting at Granvik yesterday Ulla phoned to double check the departure time.

The two ferries operate from different sides of the island, which was fortunate for us as it was a much shorter trek. Before we left the hotel we were in for a surprise -one of the wonderful kind – we were served breakfast early and it was marvellous. I’d expected a buffet of some kind (especially as they’d said they could give us breakfast to go …so glad we declined that!)

We each had an enormous breakfast platter : salami, cheese, some salad stuff, fresh pomegranates and orange segments, plus fresh natural yogurt and musli … and a freshly made omelette served with homemade bread. All served with wonderful coffee! It was an awesome start to the day,

When we woke the weather was bright and breezy … but as we sat eating our breakfast we saw a squall of rain blast across the bay :( … luckily it was short lived and we didn’t get caught by any rain all day.

There was a tiny waiting room in a hut at the harbour …and it was truly beautiful what the locals had done with it. It was a book swap stop and also acts as the post drop off /puck up and the polling station!

The ferry from Pensar to Kirjais was much bigger than the one yesterday and the ferryman – who looked like Popeye complete with pipe – had made the journey just for us. Again the ferry could have accommodated a few cars and was free for all! There was a self service cafe on board (with honesty box) clean toilets and warm water for washing hands. Our journey took 20-25 mins and we were soon on the way again.

It was 3km to Kirjais village where we spotted a St Olav Waymarker … here though the explanation and step by step directions could have been clearer.

… here you can find Kirjais kursgård which offers B&B, a seasonal restaurant and a seasonal shop

We understood that to mean that all three were at Kirjais kursgård, but that turned out to be a village owned centre (converted school) … a confirmation camp was going on and the volunteer in the kitchen gave us a cup of coffee and a biscuit (and we used the loo) before heading back to the village. I was glad we’d made the mistake as it meant we’d seen and heard more of the local village life, and we found -yet again – that the Camino does indeed provide! – but it did (unnecessarily) add a couple of kilometres to our journey.

Once back in the village we saw the seasonal restaurant (closed) and popped into the seasonal shop – a banana and ice-cream – and also spied a cafe.

Then it was time to hit the road again …6km more to the main road to the archipelago. We hiked along a lovely local road (more like a lane with only 2-3 cars) and followed the instructions to Laggernäsvägen and Träskvägen onto the tractor track and road. We found ourselves at a mini T junction and it was here we really would have needed a st Olav waymarker … we turned left instead of right ended up at a summer residence marked private – and had to trek all the way back!

All’s well that ends well we found the highway and endured the 2km along it and across the two very high bridges (with splendid views)

The Westerholm culture path just before Nagu was somewhat interesting …but by then we just wanted to find the Nagu church (and a toilet!) We found the latter first in the post office -general store cum tourist info and then went to the church.

There we met St Olav and also saw first editions of the bible in Finnish and Swedish!

We enjoyed a very late lunch by the waterfront in Nagu and caught the 4.10pm bus back to Turku. The journey takes one and a half hours and I slept all the way.

Once home Ulla and I enjoyed a sauna and a beer on the patio …and had an early night.

We walked 97.5km in total

It’s 1200 km from Turku to Trondheim …so only 1300 km or so to go.

Posted in Camino St Olav Way, Finland, peregrina, rural, st olav waterway (Finland) | 2 Comments

St Olav Waterway: Day 3 Pargas – Pensar (Parainen -Pensar Island)

Today we followed the main route 2 and then the alternative route 2b

Our friends gave us a wonderful breakfast on board their boat and after saying our farewells we set off on our newest adventure

Today’s route would have started from the church in Pargas, and gone through the historic quarter … instead we followed the cycle path out of the town and picked up the trail when they merged just after the museum.

Today our only aim was to make the 5pm ferry from Granvik to Bensar as it was the last one of the day (and there was no way we’d have made the 1:15pm one)

Basically today’s pilgrimage was a walk of two halves of approximately the same length …firstly along the cycle path (following the main road) to Sattmark, and then our detour took us along the back lane to Granvik.

The cafe at Sattmark (open 10-7pm) is marvellous and they still have the tradition of ‘portor’ (a second cup). Nowadays there is also a nice restaurant on site, and it’s also possible to walk down to the water for a swim or a paddle.

We bought sandwiches (freshly made, wrapped in paper and tied with string) and coffee and took an extended break at the cafe and down by the water. It was quite warm and sunny (until then it had been slightly overcast and perfect for walking). The cafe has outdoor toilets (compost toilets) that were spotless and there was running water to wash our hands under too.

All too soon though it was time to head towards Granvik … this section was very easy (about 8km along a country lane with only the very occassional cyclist or car) ; it wasn’t waymarked (or we didn’t notice the signs) but in all honesty.

We arrived with about 2 hours to spare -but were very happy that it worked out that way as the grey clouds had not only returned but decided to shed some of their load. The bus stop had a roof and a bench and we huddled there eating the sandwiches we’d made earlier in the morning and raiding Ulla’s chocolate stash!

The ferry from Granvik to Pensar is free (and takes up to six or eight vehicles) …there’s no cafe on board (which we knew) but we were grateful for the little warm cabin and happy to make use of the toilet on board too!

We alighted from the ferry in Pensar and the rain came down!

It was much further from the harbour to our accommodation than I’d figured and while we knew in advance that there would be no St Olav pilgrimage waymarkers (the last one was at the bus shelter) we were a bit thrown by the absence of signs to the Sandvik Hotel.

“The Camino provides” was one thing I’d learnt on the Camino Francés and sure enough we had met the hotel’s new cook (and her two girls) on board the ferry – she’d asked if we’d wanted a ride but we’d declined) and luckily Ulla had picked up where to turn for the hotel.

The hotel wasn’t cheap (100€/night B&B) and it wasn’t quite what I’d expected! When you book a room that isn’t en-suite you don’t expect the showers to be across a football field half a kilometre away!

The toilet (usually Finnish compost toilets are very good, this one needed some attention)

But the staff (young girls, one of whom is going to the army next month!) were very friendly, the room was amazing, the beds were comfortable and the food was amazing!

Location isn’t everything but … the arcipelagic views were wonderful even if there was no midnight sun! And both our room and the restaurant in particular had fantastic sea views!

Today we walked around 27 km

Posted in Camino St Olav Way, Finland, Finland, peregrina, rural, st olav waterway (Finland), travel, water | 4 Comments

St Olav Waterway: Day 2 Auvaisberg (St Karins) – Pargas ( Kaarina – Parainen) Tuesday 25 June 2019

Today was a relatively short stint for us (though by the end of the day we’d clocked up the best part of 25km)

Jolanta, Ulla and I just before setting off!

My friend Jolanta served us breakfast and Ulla and I set off shortly after 9am (a little later than planned)

Finding the St Olav Waterway route from Auvaisberg was easy … though we lost it briefly through the suburbs of Kaarina (before the beach). I’d hoped to get a coffee there but there was nothing – though we could use the toilets. We googled a cafe and started to head that direction only to spy the summer kiosk by the children’s playground. Perfect! Coffee and ice cream it was!

Coffee was needed, the chocolate-salted caramel ice cream in a cone a bonus!

Then we made our way to the main route into the archipelago.

Pargas is an island and together there we crossed two high bridges – walking across the island of Kuusisto. There are ruins of a bishop’s stronghold from the Middle Ages there, but too much of a detour when walking (unless you overnight there) so we stuck to the trail.

Most of today’s section followed the Saaristorengastie (a 150km circular cycle path through the archipelago) – relatively easy walking but I didn’t like it when the cycle path was too close to the main road as there are heavy trucks thundering down towards Pargas. Walking across the bridges was noisy too – though at least on these two bridges the pedestrians and cyclists had their own lane!

Our primary destination today was the medieval stone church of Pargas (there was a toilet, a place to refill water bottles) and we were able to get our credential stamped too.

We backtracked slightly for today’s accommodation … again thankful for the hospitality of friends as we stayed on their boat moored at Soliden.

My friend Marie made us a smashing dinner; a hairy bikers’ recipe, which she whipped up in the tiny galley, along with blueberry pie for desert.

This evening we had hoped to have a sauna … and I took my first dip in the Baltic this year. In my opinion it wasn’t warm at all …but I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to bathing in cold water … sadly the sauna didn’t work out, but the showers were lovely and hot and every bit as welcome!

Neither Jolanta nor Marie and Arthur had stamps … so both put their creative skills to good use to mark our credentials. (See day 4’s post)

Auivaisberg – Pargas – Soliden : 25 km

Posted in Camino St Olav Way, Finland, Finland, peregrina, rural, st olav waterway (Finland), travel

St Olav Waterway, day 1: Åbo-Auvaisberg (St Karins) / Turku-Auvainen (Kaarina)

I’m mostly using the Swedish names and spellings when blogging about the St Olav Way Pilgrimage in Finland as most of the places en route have a Swedish speaking majority. I’m also choosing to use the word ‘Camino’ for pilgrimage on foot!

Day 1

My friend Ulla arrived at Turku railway station just before 6pm, so our Camino today started really late (something I never did on the Camino Francés!) Kaarina is a very short drive from home but a lot further on foot because (like the Camino in Spain) the St Olav Waterway follows ancient ways where possible, detours to historic sites, and as far as possible has pilgrims walking away from busy ways. I appreciate all those aspects.

We set off from the railway station, headed down to the river, where we had our first view of the historic medieval cathedral of Turku. That’s where the route (in Turku) begins.

The route out of the city takes pilgrims past the site of St Olav’s convent ( we didn’t find the commemorative statue/plaque) St Olaf’s school and the city hospital. Soon after we were in suburban countryside at Luolavuori and the boarded wetlands behind there. (I was shocked how much everything has grown in a few weeks and now obscured much of the view)

Ulla and I negotiated the wetland paths (so much easier without bikes hahaha) and headed up the infamous flight of steps … 300 before I lost count! There are splendid views from the top (and an outhouse to use – bring your own toilet paper!) but the route from there is only marked with blue hiking trail rings and is tricky to follow. We backtracked once.

Afterwards the route is relatively easy to pick up again, though one section was on an overgrown path through a woodland, and while pretty it was too late in the day for me to enjoy it.

We arrived at our destination a little before 9:30pm (the route taking maybe half an hour longer than I’d anticipated) … and we were very glad to see the gardeners cottage and our wonderful host Jolanta (a friend of mine who has walked the Camino Francés twice)

Jolanta fed us: a wonderful pilgrims’ stew (vegan) with homemade bread.

It was a beautiful evening, and one of the lovely things about Finland at this time of year is the midnight sun and the white nights. Ulla went swimming … but the water was too cold for me!

Jolanta stamped our credential … and then it was time to sleep.

Day 1: we walked about 15km (3.5 km)

Posted in Camino St Olav Way, Finland, my sixieth year, peregrina, rural, st olav waterway (Finland), urban

Buen Camino: St Olav Waterway

It feels so weird to have had a full and busy day today and yet know that in an hour or so I’ll be starting out on the St Olav Camino … that’s one of the benefits of the long white nights here in Finland at this time of year. The forecast is good and I’m excited to be following the steps of pilgrims once again!

My friend and I are planning on doing 3 1/2 days of the St Olav Waterway.

Stage 1 (over two days)

Stage 2 (with detour 2b to the island of Bensar)

Stage 3 (finishing 2b first!)

In other words from Turku to Nauvo (Åbo- Nagu) (Later in the summer (late July) i will have at least one day more on the pilgrim’s trail!)

I’m not sure if I’ll have access to the internet and can blog or not … let’s see.

Buen Camino!

Posted in Camino St Olav Way, peregrina, st olav waterway (Finland)

Packing for Pilgrims

It feels only yesterday I was packing for the Camino. (In reality it’s almost ten months ago!) … So what have I learned since then?

1. I travelled light then. I’ll travel light now. ✅

2. Packing for a short (3 night pilgrimage) is every bit as tricky as a 40day one! 👀

Most needs, however, are the same :

Sheet sleeping bag liner and pillow slip, micro-towel, a change of clothes and underwear, extra socks, a rain jacket and fleece, cap, sunglasses, toiletries and plasters, sunscreen and a water bottle, snack box, cash (euros)

Additional items this time: mosquito repellent (a must in the archipelago at this time of year) and swimsuit.

And one big change: a different credential!

I don’t have a pilgrim route book but do have a printed out set of step-by-step directions!

I don’t have a poncho this time – Finnish summers can be stormy and there can be persistent rain as well, but the forecast is promising and anyway I forgot to ask my friend if I could borrow hers again. So hoping the rain stays away but also that it’s not too hot.

This is the season of white nights (midnight sun) so I’m not taking a torch either!

I’m really, really looking forward to this pilgrimage … time with God, time away from the normal routines of everyday life. It will be different, very different, from my Camino to Santiago de Compostela, not least because I’m not going solo this time but walking with a friend (her initiative in response to my sixtieth year celebration of meeting with friends this year), plus this is Finland so I know the people and the land (though much of it will be in Swedish speaking areas) so the culture and the scenery is familiar.

Another huge difference is that we know where we will be staying for each of the three nights (the first two nights with friends en route) AND at times our pilgrimage takes us over the water (small local ferries)

Posted in Camino St Olav Way, Finland, st olav waterway (Finland), this & that