Today (yesterday now) was about exploring on bike - in particular we wanted to have a good look at an area we...

Today (yesterday now) was about exploring on bike - in particular we wanted to have a good look at an area we accidentally started into last weekend - Lemland, or at least the western-most bit of it.

Before that, though, we had some other matters to deal with, like arranging the ferry out to Kökar for Sunday (turns out, no bookings needed), and getting some over-the-counter relief for an ant bite the Alicia Smith​ got while we were picnicing on our last kayaking trip.

That sorted, we rode down towards the Paddelboden boathouse, and just kept going. This took us out along the road to Järsö, the southern-most island of the Mariehamn region (although technically is is part of Lemland), all interconnected by causeways and bridges.

Shortly after entering the region we arrive on the island of Nåtö, where we accidentaly found the Nåtö Region Biological Research Station, and one of the regional nature reserves. Guided by the instructions from a Dutch couple, we made our way to the walk-track into the reserve, and the first animal we encounter? Cows.


Later we found an explaination - they are kept to maintain the undergrowth, and are foraged from the cleanup hay over winter. It is a very traditional forest maintenance method, but to Australian eyes very odd! Deeper in we passed through hazel thickets, and some very primordial feeling pine groves. These are some of the most biodiverse areas in the archipelago.

We got ourselves cheerfully lost for a good couple of hours, before making our way back past the cows to our bikes, where we had lunch. While we were eating, an older German couple came up to us to ask if the trail led out to Järsö, and then, discovering that we were not local, enthused at great length about their favourite parts of the islands, including a cafe at Järsö. This was their 30-somethingth trip to the islands, and clearly loved them.

On we rode, and suddenly found a kiosk cafe just down the road - one that did not appear on any of our maps! For better or for worse, it was not one of those places, just somewhere that had not been logged by Google or the local tourist guides. The propritetor cheerfully chatted with us in English, admitting that her English was better than her Finnish! We finally got to try some of the Pengviini brand icecream we've seen everywhere. And it was very good - dense, and not too sweet.

Refreshed, we continued on, until we reached Järsö, and saw a sign pointing to a cafe. "Ah ha!", we thought, "The place that nice couple told us about!" And it was a very nice little spot on Grano, next to the water, with rowboat hire, and coffee. But not the place that we'd been told about - but we only found that out when we got home!

So we headed home, stopping off at the local verison of Hungry Jacks (Burger KIng), a chain called 'Hesburger', which we had looked in on some days before, and seen that they had a gluten-free burger on the menu. So we gave it a go, and it was ... OK. Keep in mind that we've not had a big-chain burger for years, so our standards have changed a lot. This had no sauce, just mayo, but did have cheese, and a pretty good bun. The pattie was thin, but all meat, so the end result was pretty much just what we needed. Add to that some fries and a very ice-free coke, and it was a pretty good feed for about AUD10 each. And GF, with an explanitory docket, telling us how it was made.

Again, this part of the world just seems to get GF, and allergies in general. So much so that they appear to have a very casual attitude to cross-contamination - untill you realise that the casualness is from familarity, not lack of care!


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