It began when Lee and I boarded a plane in Brisbane at 2.30pm on Tuesday 24th July 2018. After another 2 plane journeys via Singapore and Frankfurt, we finally arrived in Helsinki airport late on the afternoon of Wednesday 25th July and caught the train to the city and booked into "Hotel Arthur" for the night. Soon we were joined by Kathy and Sue (Wima Australia members) and headed off to choose some food in the many eating houses nearby.
After a lusciuos breakfast at the pub Lee took off and picked up the previously booked car a VW station wagon. Luggage and all, we proceeded to the wharf to catch a huge ferry for a 5 hour sail to Aland - one of the hundreds of islands off the coast of Finland. This began the pre rally week during which we visited by ferry a lot of islands amongst the most beautiful vistas of sea and island after island.
Now it is time for the real thing ! A heap of bikes and 4 in the VW. I was "given away" from our lot and Liz Robinson from the UK rescued me for the ferry ride to Tuku. In Tuku i rejoined the others and it took us about an hour a half to find the key and the building in which we were supposed to spend the night. Ultimately we were rewarded with a beautiful apartment with our own private library. I slept in a wee room off the kitchen but had a beautiful sleep. The Solliden camping ground is set in a beautiful forest setting and we were allotted a lovely little chalet at the top of a very steep drive. From our spot on the top of the hill we had a bird's eye view of the whole camp and I think someone said there were about 300 bikes of all makes, configuations and sizes parked throughout the grounds. The setting was right on the water with a little rocky beach and the girls made good use of the warm shallow water. Breakfast was supplied every morning - the eggs were all white shelled which nwe found odd but the food was healthy and there was plenty of it. For the week we sometimes organised a meal in the chalet and if we were in Tuku we ate out.
Chalet at Solliden in Finland Lee and Barbara
We took part in the "Treasure Hunt" but I didn't win. At the main tent there were different craft workshops every day and there were lots of different competitions going on all week. We were also treated with a trip on a real restored steam boat in Helsinki and although it was high Summer in Finland it was quite a lot hotter than normal and we had to retreat downstairs as we were in danger of getting sunburnt. Sounds like Aussie, a big surprise to us considering how close we were to the Arctic Circle. On the Saturday morning all the bikes gathered and lined up for the Parade through the streets of Helsinki. It was quite spectacular and many people lined the streets to watch. Everyone gathered for a group photo on the wharf. A moment to remember.
All too soon it was time to pack up and the week ended with a farewell dinner on the Friday night when the formal proceedings were carried out. We had some hilarious moments with an "air guitar" competition and two burlesque items which rocked the marquee with laughter. Then came the awards. The last one was for Barbara McEvoy. I thought "What" and I sat stuned for a moment until I realised it was for me.I was the oldest member of Wima present and they presented me with a roll bag. As yet I do not have a bike but I might make it onto a bike again. I will treasure the gift it is very much appreciated and thank you to everyone in WIMA. A great experience and maybe in my dotage I will make it to the UK Rally next year. See you there. - Barbar
Line up for the Parade WIMA Presidents 2018 and below WIMA members at Rally