Rauma (5 July 2013)
Rauma Rauma Rauma… Pronounce it in a certain way and some people in Singapore may think that you are calling for your great-grandmother. That was what I thought when I first saw the name.
It was time to take a day trip from Turku. And about time too since I was sure that I would not be able to squeeze anymore out of that city after almost 2 days of wandering about. Rauma is just a quick 1.5 hour bus ride away and that was where I ventured out to.
The old core of Rauma town has been beautifully preserved. The colorful mostly 1-storey houses of wood there were really quite a lovely sight. Rauma is one of those places that is nice to have a stroll in. I wonder what the people living in those houses thought about visitors turning up everywhere and even peeking into their homes from time to time.
There are two stone buildings in the old town among a sea of wooden ones. The old town hall is one. The building now serves as the tourist information centre and houses the small Rauma Museum. The other stone building is the Church of the Holy Cross. There are some marvellous frescoes in the church.
The 2 old houses were however more interesting to me. I first visited the Marela. This looked like an ordinary townhouse actually and had belonged to rich shipowners between the 18th and 19th centuries.
The other house was the Kirsti which I personally preferred because it was more rustic. This was a seamen’s house from the 18th century as well and had an extension dating to the 1950s. It was practically a homestead because it had a stable, granary, cowshed and storehouse. The old stable still smelt like a stable although I did not see a horse in there.
The lady at the house told me that the wooden planks used to build the house were cut with an axe. That impressed me a lot since the wooden planks were very evenly cut and I thought that using an axe to achieve those straight edges seemed next to impossible.
I also found out that the Kirsti had at one stage housed several lodgers. Each room in the house would be occupied by a lodger or family of lodgers like an apartment. The biggest room of course went to the house owners.
I also solved the mystery of the super short beds of Finland at Kirsti. I had first noticed a bed in Turku Castle that was super short. My first reaction was that this must have been a bed from the mediaeval castle since people did not believe in sleeping lying down back then in Europe. Although that bed still looked strangely shorter than the ones from mediaeval times that I had seen before, I did not think too much about the issue. Then I saw the same short bed in a room in Kirtsi. I thought people no longer slept sitting up by the 19th century? So I asked the lady at the house about the bed. She was amused though not surprised since so many foreign visitors had asked her the same question. Apparently the bed was extendable. I did not see the extra pair of legs under the bed here and the one in Turku Castle. Mystery solved! Anyway, the beds were made like this as a way to save space.
I spent an impossibly long time in the small old town because I liked it so much. It was a good finale to my 6 days in Finland.
It is not often that I am impressed by a country and I have to say that the people of Finland deserved the most credit for that. There was also something natural with the way the country carried itself. There was no opulence and overdoing things. There was mostly subtlety and doing just enough to be right. That made me feel very comfortable.