Day 3: Looping from Saltvik to Bomarsund Fortress and Simskala (almost) - 35 miles - Biking and Ferrying Across Finland's Aland Islands - CycleBlaze

July 11, 2018

Day 3: Looping from Saltvik to Bomarsund Fortress and Simskala (almost) - 35 miles

Fearsome fort, ferry fumbles

Day 3: 35 Miles (Ignore the diagonal line)
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Kvarnbo Guesthouse elegant breakfast spread
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An enormous breakfast at the Kvarnbo Guesthouse powered us for the 5 km bike ride to the Kastleholm Castle, which dates back to 1380. Lots of complicated Swedish history behind the castle, most notably the fact that John III of Sweden kept his deposed brother Eric XIV and his wife in captivity in the castle in the Fall of 1571.  I guess there were a lot more royal Erics than Johns in Sweden back in the day.

Kastleholm Castle in Svaltik
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There were a lot of interesting exhibits and collections of artifacts. I tried on an 1500s vintage biking helmet. 

Aerodynamic and safe!
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A bit more biking and we reached the ruins of the enormous Bomarsund fortress, which was just oozing with history.  Apparently, in the early 1800's Sweden didn't do too well in a war with Russia, and the Alands and Finland became part of Russia. In 1830 the Russians started to build the Bomarsund fortress of a scale to house 5,000 men and 500 cannons - the ruins of the walls appear to cover a half mile diameter circle. 

Bomarsun Fortress Ruins
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However,  during the Crimean War in 1854 France and England captured the  still unfinished fortress and blew it to smithereens. All this seemed to put in motion various political movements that resulted in the Alands becoming an autonomous province that is technically part of Finland but maintains Swedish as the official language.

After an elegant picnic lunch near an old church a few miles south of the fortress, we biked across Vardos on country roads and a causeway to the ferry to Simskala Island. The original plan was to take a short ferry to Simskala, bike a few kilometers and stop at a museum and then have a boat service take us and our bikes across the Simskalafjarden channel to Sveden, where we would bike back to the Kvarnbo guesthouse.

However, the short ferry operators were taking a break, and the boat service had decided they didn't feel like working that day, so instead we piled our bikes into the support van and traced our way back to explore some different areas. Carole did get to dip her toe in the icy waters.

Carole in Vardos
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We biked hilly gravel roads around a large lake back to the Guesthouse where I enjoyed a nice bottle of Happy Joe's hard apple cider.

We became big fans of Happy Joe's hard cider
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Today's ride: 35 miles (56 km)
Total: 105 miles (169 km)

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