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Turku: where I was born & where I call ‘home’

At what point in your adult life do you stop saying you come from somewhere where you haven’t even lived most of your life? I don’t know. I haven’t reached that point yet. Lately I’ve been pondering a lot on the fact that when do I stop saying my mother tongue is Finnish or where I come from. I’m starting to reach that point in my life where I’ve lived longer away from Finland or Turku as I have lived in there. But yet I still feel like I came from Turku and I am mainly Finnish. Although I am a mix of cultures and languages nowadays and not that ‘turkulainen’ as one would think I should be.

Born in where the ‘real’ Turku people were born: Heideken, I consider myself very much a-this-side-of-the-river kinda girl. I’ve moved around the city several times and have worked in so many different places that Mr Merry just says I’ve worked everywhere. Many of the places in the city I know by heart and I won’t really get lost in this city. I know what road leads to where. In fact if you hear me speak about Finland, I will most likely be talking about Turku. I tend to mix up Finland and Turku in my vocabulary all the time. I say Finland for Turku and rest of the cities go with their own names. But I too have to admit that slowly my knowledge is starting to be very obsolete. A lot of construction is on it’s way and the city square doesn’t look like anything from my childhood. Places that I used to go to don’t exist anymore and bus stops have moved around. I’m starting to feel like a bad tourist guide, since most of my information is kinda wonky.

Turku is a bit of a funny place in Finland. We have this extremely old attitude of ‘being the old capital of Finland’ and we’re fairly hard people to make friends with. We tend to keep to ourselves and don’t let others in very easily. I’ve heard this a lot from other Finns moving into my home city. It takes time to get friendly with a Turku person. Also it seems that most of other Finland will mock us either for our funny accent or for our funny ways. Even I’m used to saying: “Yes, I come from the butt hole of Finland, Turku”. But talking seriously: Turku has got ‘a lot’ to offer. It is one of the sunny capitals of Finland and with its majestic archipelago, it might be worth a visit.

Where to go in case you’re visiting my lovely little home city?

The main river Aurajoki that runs through Turku is epic and just walking by the river, having beers on the boats turned into restaurants or seeing the Turun Tuomiokirkko by the river is what people will take photos of. Jokiranta also has nice restaurants, events like DBTL and couple of museum worth a visit. There’s a little city ferry called Föri that is epic to the Turku people. Obviously the journey will disappoint you but at least you’ll have some face value within the Turku people if you’ve ridden the Föri. Also the boats towards the majestic archipelago of Turku will all depart from the river as well so really have fun and enjoy the areas around Aurajoki.

Another famous destination that tourists tend to take their photos of is Turun linna: an old castle close to the Turku harbour. It is very lovely and it actually has a working church inside. My sister’s child was baptised there and you can even get married inside the castle. It’s got ghost stories and real old mood of the city. You will get fabulous Instagram photos. It is conveniently next to the harbour where all the party ferrys to Sweden depart. So in case you’re going on a party boat either with Viking Line or Silja line, you might want to experience Suomenlinna on the same trip. Another old destination I always take my Turku visitors to is Luostarinmäen Käsityöläismuseo. It’s an old part of Turku that has remained through the city fires etc. You’ll get a good experience of how much people have grown in size throughout the years. I would not be able to fit the beds! This is a brilliant visit around the time they’re doing Vanhan Ajan Markkinat. You’ll get a good trip in the history.

Turku has actually a lot to offer for young kids and their families. There is activities that are totally free or mostly free like one of the biggest open children’s park of Finland: Seikkailupuisto. Also Kuralan Kylämäki with it’s activities and animals is worth a visit with kids. There’s open outdoor swimming pools (with slides) in Kupittaa, next Seikkailupuisto, during the summer and also a waterpark called Jukupark on the other side of Turku. Also Naantali and the Muumimaailma is not far away. Loads of indoor play parks and restaurants are super child friendly. And I can not forget to advertise Caribia and it’s water haven to go and have some fun in.

I thought to myself I won’t even start with restaurants and places to eat in since Turku has grown so much and lately there’s so many good places to eat in. And to be honest I won’t actually recommend any places for real since I haven’t tried all the best new places in Turku. But I am going to mention couple of places that were vital for me when living in Finland. First one is obviously the place where I got into trouble most Fridays and Saturdays: Nightclub Marilyn and Nightclub Vegas. These two clubs are the longest standing nightclubs in Turku and they are fun. ‘Cheap’ drinks, dancing on tables, karaoke etc.. a lot of great evenings ended in these two clubs. Otherwise places I have worked in are Rax (totally changed, I can’t even regognised the place anymore), Svenska Klubben (this is fairly nice place) and Brahen Kellari. I actually took Mr Merry to Brahen Kellari to eat lunch and they still remember me! Food is good and it’s bang in the city centre.

Lets be honest that most visitors will most likely end up in Turku because of a famous summer festival Ruisrock. You’ll end up seeing crowded Ruissalo with its normally muddy festival mood. But Ruissalo is actually really beautiful place to visit. It’s not too far to cycle in and there’s lovely views and beaches there. Plus you can enjoy nice restaurants there. Ruissalo is definitely better without Ruisrock than with it. Another great outdoor activity in Turku area is the Turku Archipelago and it’s Rengastie. The brave will take a bike and cycle for days hopping the islands. But there are other methods too. You can go by bus, car etc. Ferry rides are lovely and the views are magnificent. My mum also used to live on this Rengastie so we were lucky enough to get to live near these views all the time.

But to be honest. Most of these memories and places are linked to my mother. Who used to be my home no matter where I was in the World. It’s a bit scary to move on now without her due to her passing last year. It feels like I need to be letting go on Turku too. We’ll see when I stop saying Turku is my home.

Child of the World. Language enthusiast. Wanderlust running in my veins. Making the world Merry.


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