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Text by Katja Pantzar.
Photos by Katja Pantzar, Felipe Tofani and Marcela Faé.
Just beyond the medieval town of Porvoo, a popular tourist destination about 50 kilometres from Helsinki, lies a lesser-known but equally photogenic destination: the Pellinge Archipelago in the Gulf of Finland.
Here, Finnish-Swedish artist and writer Tove Jansson (1914–2001) best known as the creator of the loveable Moomins – the carefree and adventurous soft-snouted characters who live in Moominvalley – spent many summers.
British comedian and TV travel show host Griff Rhys Jones was so smitten by the Finnish Archipelago that he told the Telegraph newspaper it was one of the most fascinating places he’d ever visited: “Nobody outside Finland seems to know about it. But the thing I love most about the archipelago is that it’s so unspoilt.”
Berlin-based Brazilian bloggers Marcela Faé and Felipe Tofani first travelled to the Pellinge Archipelago in September 2014 as part of #TravelHousePorvoo.
“Before visiting Finland, I envisioned a cold, harsh, snow-covered country,” says Tofani, an art director who runs the Fotostrasse travel blog with his wife Marcela Faé, a professional photographer.
“Visiting Porvoo changed that notion: the islands were beautiful, as was the colour of the sea, the rock formations and the pine trees – it wasn’t something I was expecting and it was amazing,” he says.
Another element of surprise unfolded in the form of jokamiehenoikeus or “everyman’s right,” which is the right of the general public to access public and private land for recreation throughout Finland.
“We really were not expecting that islands such as Äggskär are public and work more like a park,” says Tofani. “In Brazil, an island like this would belong to the wealthy and nobody would be able to visit it. I really appreciate the fact that Finland works in a different way.”
Local tour operators such as fisherman Martin Tillman provide boat excursions to Äggskär Island that include a warm lunch of freshly made salmon soup. Alternatively, Tillman opens up his own island home to guests where a private restaurant, sauna and swimming dock can accommodate larger groups.
When Tofani’s underwater camera was lost on a dive off Tillman’s dock and retrieved two weeks later from the seabed by the area’s diving club, Tofani became something of a local celebrity.
But it was nature that made the biggest impression on him.
“I come from a city in the middle of Brazil, Belo Horizonte, surrounded by mountains, and even though I went to the beach on many vacations, it was never like this. I loved the way the rocks, sea and pine trees create this visual I had never seen before,” says Tofani.
Fotostrasse bloggers’ top 3 tips
1. Walk through the cobblestone streets of Old Porvoo, which dates back to 1380.
2. Bike to Sikosaari National Park.
3. Go to the Archipelago – it is truly beautiful.
This article was first published in the Summer 2015 issue of Finnair's monthly in-flight magazine Blue Wings.