Travelled: 224 kilometres from Oulu to Kokkola in Finland.
Visited: Driving the E8, Kalajoki and Hiekkasårkat
Stayed: Kokkola centrum car-park, just a bin. N63.84288, E23.13403
We had high hopes for Oulu. The Lonely Planet gave Oulu a big tick and driving through yesterday evening it looked very modern and interesting. Our overnight parking place was close to the centrum and good for all day parking. But we wake to heavy rain. It stops briefly, but starts again with a vengence.
The weather is not looking too good, so ‘no Oulu for you’.
We set off again heading south on the E6. The rain gets worse and worse, but we amble on at 90 kph. Suddenly the rain stops and the cloud breaks, within the hour its blue sky.
The weather has cleared by the time we reach Kalajoki. The church looks impressive so we stop for a leg stretch. Like the Swedish churches we saw earlier on our travels, the Finnish churches have these timber towers at the entrance to the church yard ? The church itself is a large and imposing structure, seemingly out of proportion with the village of Kalajoki. The graveyard is well tendered and has a tap in a convenient position so we help ourselves to a few litres. Caste iron headstones are very common in Scandinavia and so are these bushes with the red berries. Its only a short drive from Kalajoki to the dunes of Hiekkasårkat. According to the blurb this area is the home of the sport of nordic walking. It would appear however they don’t like getting their feet sandy as there are boardwalks leading in all directions. Obviously a popular place in high season, the dunes along here have campsites every few hundred metres and some very nice condo style units. Despite the sunshine and temperatures in the mid-teens no one is in swimming. We leave the beach and re-join the E6. The scenery is changing, more traditional farms line the highway and the villages are getting more substantial. It’s late afternoon as we drive into Kokkola. This is the railway station in Kokkola by the way. Kokkola is a large coastal town on the Gulf of Bothnian. Apart from wandering around the mall and taking in Kokkola, we are looking for an R-kioski. No it’s not the Russian Embassy, but a little shop similar to a 7/11 that sell phone cards. Our Norwegian Telia sim has given up the ghost.
We remember when getting a sim in the EU was a real drama. Provide your passport, fill in declarations and paying through the nose. In Finland it’s €24 for 10gb of 4G data including the sim, I stated my name is Bin Laden, no names required, said the young woman.
We head over to the marina looking for a spot for the night, finding an interesting memorial to a bunch of local boys who took on the English Navy and won. We find this really nice spot on the marina, but after a couple of hours we work out its not for us. The local youth use it as a meeting place and after a couple of hours of cars and talking, we move back to a car-park close to town and enjoy a good night’s sleep.
Michael and Pam