Forecast for most of today was the same as Friday and Saturday: 10 m/s northeasterlies. A weather window was forecast to start late afternoon early evening and continue through Monday.
We decided a late/night paddle wasn’t worth the hassle, all the more since Margaret’s cold had had a resurgence overnight.
Decision made we stay another night. Then we sent Erling over to the reception to pay and order our standard sauna at our standard time 2100.
That sorted, two more important decisions remained; lunch and dinner. Since the rest of us had been a bit envious of Margaret’s “five cheese” pizza at the hotel yesterday, we again rented bikes and had lunch in Karlsby.
After some excellent and sizeable pizzas Karianne and Erling took a couple of detours to explore a bit more of Kökar. First we asked the hotel personnel about a picture of Karlsby on the wall of the dining area. the picture was taken in 1907. Did anyone know whereabouts it was taken from? We got some vague directions and set out to take the 2022 version. Only moderately successful and anyway the hotel itself “took out” most of the vista from 1907.
Why we were so interested was the sheer brutality that stood out from the 1907 picture. A totally barren and windswept landscape with a few battered houses and well used boats. A stark contrast to the lush pastures and overgrown groves of today. Not to mention the hotel.
A reminder of how brutal those old days were.
The theme of brutality was relevant also for the next stop on Karianne and Erling’s mini excursion: On the western side of Kökar are the remains of a coastal fortress. First built by the Russians during the First World War, then rebuilt by the Finns during the Second World War and operated until the 1970ies. Now it was demolished and only ruins remained.
These days a reminder about an earlier age of Russian imperialism. A history that forms the backdrop for Russia’s attack on Ukraine and the strong reactions from the border countries that once was part of the empire.
We still post this blog under the “Russian Scandinavian Kayak expedition” and we are grateful for the warm welcome we received in Russia.
Part of that warm welcome was founded on a common wish to see a shared future with a tighter integration and mutual respect between Russia and the rest of Europe. That came across strongly in the many encounters we had in Russia.B
But we also realised a major caveat through these encounters, namely that Russia isn’t a country – it is an empire. An that a lot of the history Russian’s take pride in is a history of conquest and hard fought wars.
Today there is little reason to hold out hope for a shared, amicable and steadily more integrated future between Russia and Scandinavia, at least it will take generations.
It is only four years since we paddled through Russia, but it was a different age. We know many of the those we met will despair at this. We hope they stay safe.
OK. That was a major digression from the routines of a weather-bound kayak trip…
What to say. We all got home. Slacked a little. Started to pack the boats. We had reserved a table for dinner so we showed up. But after the pizza expedition most of us just ordered dessert: Ålands pancake.
Then it was sauna time and then it was nightcap time and then it was sunset. No wind! Seems like we are off tomorrow! WP.