We had a break from the sun today, and Turku’s flora received some much-needed rainfall. The rain did not dampen our enthusiasm for a visit to Finland’s oldest city and the surrounding areas. We awoke at our berth on the Aura River, which runs through the heart of Finland’s fifth largest city.

Our first activity of the day was a drive out to the town of Ruissalo, known for its collection of beautiful wooden villas dating from the 1850s. There are over 200 historically protected villas here, and we had an opportunity to walk along the wooded path. We admired the balconies, decorative railings, stained glass, and intricate trelliswork, as well as the charming bathing huts with their floating decks.

From here, we visited the University of Turku’s Botanical Garden, which features over 5,000 plants and six extensive tropical greenhouses. Blossoming Siberian crab apple trees (Malus baccata), one of the site’s highlights, scented the air with intoxicating aromas.

Our lunch stop was at the lovely Tammiluoto Winery. We sampled strawberry champagne and white currant wine. The winery was built on an old apple orchard. Since grapes aren’t particularly viable in this climate, the fermented beverages are made with apples and berries. Following the tasting, we enjoyed a lovely meal featuring salmon, rye bread, salad, roasted vegetables, and traditional Karelian pirogs. Pirogs are made from rye flour pastry filled with mashed potatoes.

Most guests returned to Turku’s town center with our historians to visit a castle that dates back to the Middle Ages. They crossed back and forth over the Aura River on a free passenger and bike ferry.

In the early evening, we sailed from the Aura River to the Archipelago Sea on our way to Helsinki. We passed the numerous islands, rocks, and skerries that make this region so interesting to visit by ship.