Let’s Go Back to the Beginning

After sitting at home for a month because of the pandemic, I was now free to go wherever I wanted because of my new summer car. I still hadn’t found a masterplan for the summer, but I did decide to start by going out on a May Day tour.

My friend had promised that I could use his parking lot a bit outside town for the whole summer. The day was nice and I still wanted to test my car a bit before starting longer journeys, so I took a long detour around the area.

I soon noticed road signs leading to Keimola, which had been one of my first urbex adventures. In 2008 I and some friends had gone there looking for an old racetrack, which had vanished in the late 1970’s. The link reveals that we found it. Back then I didn’t even know, what urbex was.

I was curious to see, what had happened in the area since my previous visit, as almost 12 years had passed. It had become unrecognizeable.

There were of course references to the past of the area, but really the only recognizeable thing left in the area was the old tower, which had become a piece of art. There’s a photo in the link above, which has been taken almost exactly from the same spot. It shows the change really, really well.

My Summer Car Is Really Made of All These Things

As soon as I had reached the train after my hike in the Tulliniemi Nature Trail, I started looking for my future summer car. My first plan was to buy a small car with around five hundred euros. I would drive it for one summer and then sell it, if it lasted for that long. If it wouldn’t, I would just have it towed to a scrapyard.

I had one problem, though. 500 euro cars were VW Polos, Fiat Puntos, Kias and Hyundais. They were small and impersonal cars, which didn’t stand out anywhere. And I wasn’t used to driving such cars. I love stories and every single car of mine has had a story.

When I was a toddler and I was taken downtown, I was shown dogs and told their breed, and cars and told their marque. I only learned the cars and when the time for my first word came, it was Volvo.

I always wanted a Volvo, my family didn’t. In the late 90’s when I was promised a car to drive in the backyard of our summer cottage, I wanted a Volvo and got a small one. I never drove it, we sold the cottage, and I and my best friend dismantled it in our new garage. Here it is when we finally had torn every single part we could off it just before it was recycled.

Also in the late 90’s a family friend of ours said, that everybody wanting a Volvo should buy a 850 Turbo. I was promised a car for my 18th birthday, but 850 Turbos were extremely expensive back then, costing around 15000 euros and upwards. We weren’t that rich.

But in the end I found one. Driven just under 120000 kilometres, it had automatic transmission, light brown leather seats, a wood trim in the dashboard and almost every extra you could get. We got it for 8000 euros. And here it is on the day I got it in late 2006.

I drove the car for more than seven years and loved every kilometre. Basically it was the symbol of my youth, but it was getting old. I graduated from my second degree, got a better job and wanted to get a better car. For a few weeks I drove my family’s Volvo S40 (yeah, they gave in and bought a Volvo in the end), but it was possibly the worst car design I had ever had. I had loved the large Volvo Estate, so I sought another one.

And I found this. The photo has been taken during one of my urbex adventures in the old vocational school dormitory behind the car. The photos from the location can be found here.

When I moved to the capital region five years later, I thought that I no longer needed a car, and sold it. And now I was looking for another one.

Originally I had thought of a small Fiat, as I have connections to Turin. But when I came home from my trip to Hanko, I was so drunk, I forgot what I was doing. I don’t know if I just missed owning a car of if I had a 30’s crisis, but time and time again I was watching this video from starting an old Volvo 850. I just loved the sound of the five cylinder engine, which is completely unique. No other car sounds like that.

So the following day I was looking for a 25 year old Volvo with a budget of 500 euros. It seemed impossible. 500 euro Volvos were in general not in working order, good ones cost way more than 1000 euros, and that didn’t fit my budget.

The following Friday I found one. I called and called, but the owner only answered me on sunday. He had sold it. I raised my budget and found another. The owner didn’t answer.

But by now I wanted my youth back. I raised my budget further, and when a new ad came up the following Monday, I immediately knew it was my car. And the following day I came home with this baby.

It was blue, not green and it wasn’t a turbo. But it was automatic and its interior looked just like my old darling. I paid 700 euros for it.

I drove it home and started planning my summer. Maybe a few national parks, maybe some trips to interesting abandoned locations I hadn’t yet visited. I was excited.

I had no idea what was coming.

The Miller’s Tale Part III

When I reached the second floor, I had my doubts about going up. The stairs and roof still looked solid, but I’m a little afraid of heights.

But it turned out that the second floor wasn’t very large or exciting.

A photo taken to look what lies ahead.

The narrow stairs led to another part of the building. I had second thoughts about going, as I figured it was the space directly above the collapsing lower wing of the building.

The only other way apart from the attic led higher up the mill. Things still looked safe so I headed towards the stairs.

Although the floor was in sound condition, I still had to move carefully in the building. It wasn’t designed for sunday afternoon walks but for grain to enter and flour to exit.

Hello mr. Red Box, we finally meet.

More huge containers.

This was a surprising turn of events. The floors had been wooden all the way up here, but suddeny one of the floors was solid concrete.

So was the roof. A part of the supporting beams were wooden, a part of them steel. I guess that in the country, who had only recently declared independence from the poor early 20th century Russia, you had to use what you would find.

It also appears that several changes were made to the mill and its machinery during the 70+ years of operations.

There was one more floor to go, but I decided I was high enough.

The last photo from outside the mill shows the area, where more modern annexes have been standing before demolition after the bankrupcy. The mill remains protected, but the municipality is at the moment making plans to redevelop the area. They are currently investigating, if it is still possible to save the mill.

The Miller’s Tale Part II

Although the mill was old and had been abandoned for almost 30 years, its structures seemed solid enough for me to proceed further up the building. The wood seemed dry and no rotten parts were immediately visible.

On the ground floor there were dark corners and boarded up windows.

A lot of the original machinery was also left. Apart from what the vandals had done, things were almost like back in the early 1990’s, when the company owning the mill went bankrupt.

That is one hell of a nice Idgit the Midget there. In Finnish he is called ‘Sikari-Sakari’ translating directly as Cigar Zach, hence the reference.

The place was a pretty strange maze despite not being that big. I certainly wouldn’t have enjoyed working here.

There were strange pipes running from the top to the ground floor.

Now this is too much information. It’s about two people having had sex here. Did I already mention, that I’d like to do that in an abandoned house one day, too?

Although the floors seemed solid, you had to be careful. There were all kinds of gaps in them related to the former activity in the mill.

The place was in need of a good electrician.

That is many emotions in one window.

The thing has been measuring something, but what?

After almost 30 years of inactivity, there still was grain in the building.

We’ll get to the top in the next post.

The Miller’s Tale Part I

When the snow was finally gone, it was time to start exploring. Through Instagram I found an abandoned mill not to far from my home. My friend borrowed her father’s car and we went looking for the place.

The recognizeable form of the old mill wasn’t too hard to find.

The mill had originally been founded in 1918. It was expanded in the 1960’s and was abandoned after a bankrupcy in 1992. The 1960’s annexes were demolished shortly afterwards and this was to be the fate of the old mill, too. But in the end it was protected by the authorities in 1998.

There was a fence with barbed wire surrounding the old mill. However there was also a nice gap in one of the fence sections, which made access easy.

So the mill was indeed a protected building. The lower wing of it will probably not have anything to protect much longer.

A look inside the collapsing wing. We didn’t dare to enter, but luckily there wasn’t much to be seen either.

A different perspective shows the roof giving in. It hasn’t got many winters left.

The other room in the low wing. I doubt anybody has actually hanged themselves here. The rope has been tied that way just to scare people. This actually happens quite often.

A view from the backside of the mill shows, that it’s all open doors in the main building.

This room was only accessible through the window. It featured the switchboard and power station of the mill.

The mill had a central heating system, which probably burned oil. Those were very common in Finland back in the days. Even one or two of my childhood homes have had oil heating.

The main building looked to be in a much better shape than the low wing. It looked inviting. And in the next post we’ll explore it further.

Was Told to Expect Nature, Found This Part III

After passing the barracks it was all nature again.

But after a while a fairly large seaport with imported cars appeared on the left side. What kind of a nature trail is this, I thought to myself. There’s more of everything else than nature here.

Ah, now we are at it. Let’s take a moment to enjoy a few pics of nature before something else comes up again.

After the forest the trail then continued on bare cliff.

There were man made constructions in the tip of the cape. I believe these have housed artillery, as they are similar than those on Taivaskallio in Helsinki. Also notice the huge ‘natural’ blue ship in the background.

This was as far as you could go by foot. You’d need a boat after this.

The sign says it all.

This is where I sat for a couple of hours drinking French red wine and making notes in my diary. Until suddenly I got a crazy idea. I immediately got up and started walking as fast as I could towards the station to catch the next train.

On my way back I noticed this bunker, but I had no time to explore further. I wanted to make my idea true as soon as I could.

One final look at the sea.

And then I was back on the streets of Hanko walking full speed to catch the train.

I reached the station with three minutes to go, was sweating and panting, but had made it. And when I had calmed down, I started searching for used cars.

Because my grand idea was this: I would buy myself a summer car. I would tour around Finland, hike in national parks and photograph abandoned buildings in places I had never even dreamed of visiting.

And I am a person, who makes their dreams come true.

Was Told to Expect Nature, Found This Part II

So this was my destination, the Tulliniemi Nature Trail. It’s located on a small cape and leads to the southernmost tip of mainland Finland.

This was what I expected. A good trail, some forest and the sea just invisible behind the last trees straight ahead.

What I didn’t expect were warnings about grenades and instructions on how to recognize them. The cape was a part of the area, which the Soviet Union force hired between the wars. There was a rich war history there.

I soon forgot about the grenades, as my expectations were soon again fulfilled.

Although an ancient shipwreck somewhat disturbed my vision of being in nature.

The trail then left the beach and headed to a forest. And again there was something, which really didn’t fit my description of nature. This one was, however, much more interesting than shipwrecks and potential grenades.

And it soon turned out, it wasn’t just one house. It was a small village of old barracks partly collapsed.

The information signs tell the history of the buildings. The barracks were built by the Soviets during the time they hired the cape. They were later used by the Germans to interrogate Soviet war prisoners. After the wars the area became a correctional facility for women mainly arrested for drunk driving or homelessness. It was abandoned in the 1960’s.

I would have loved to explore the buildings better, but the city wanted to keep visitors away.

The buildings were in a very bad shape. Some of them had entirely collapsed.

Some of them couldn’t be recognized as buildings anymore.

It wasn’t just one fence. There were several fences keeping the areas apart.

More warnings. This time it’s about pollution and a recommendation not to pick mushrooms or berries.

Whatever it had been, it hadn’t survived.

Allright, allright, I believe you.

This building won’t stand for many more years either.

Looks like collapse will happen here soon too.

I would really long to get in there.

To be continued.

Was Told to Expect Nature, Found This Part I

Like I said at the end of my last post, 2020 would be a life changing year for everybody. For some it was for the good, but unfortunately not for everyone. Whatever the outcome, I doubt that life would never ever be the same for anyone.

In early March I had my annual winter vacation. I travelled to Kemi, Lapland to work on my literary projects. I spent a good three days locked up in a vintage hotel room drinking wine and writing not reading the news at all. When I opened a newspaper in the express train taking me back home, covid had come to Finland.

I spent a few days in Oulu, partied in Tampere and returned home. The following day everything was closed down. A few weeks later they even closed the borders of Uusimaa, and I was imprisoned there.

I descended into some sort of apathy. I didn’t care to dress up, just walked around the apartment in a white bathrobe in which I also attended the online meetings at work. I drank too much wine, made deluded Instagram stories and started testing racing games of the early 1990’s.

After a month I had had enough and decided to go out for an adventure.

I reckoned that all the parks and trails in the capital region would be full of people and it would be safer to go somewhere else. I decided to go West.

I was right. There were only a handful of passengers in the train and I was alone in my car.

This was as far as I could go. The borders of the region were still closed and guarded by the police and military. Although I had a permit to move freely because of my work, I decided to obey the law.

Another, smaller train was waiting for me at the station.

I did remember to buy the ticket, yes. However nobody came to check it. The conductors had been instructed to avoid contact, so they weren’t interested in checking them.

This is the railway station of Hanko, one of the most beautiful 20th century stations in Finland in my opinion. But well, I do love functionalism.

The whole town was completely deserted. It was lunchtime and I was desperately longing to find a grill to get a burger.

I did find one, but it was closed. By now I was very hungry.

I started looking for an open restaurant, anything would do, really. But it was as if covid had wiped off all life from the town.

I couldn’t help but to admire the architecture. The water tower is to the left, the church is to the right.

A memorial for something, which probably has something to do with the wars. I didn’t examine it closer. I really don’t care about the war.

I figured, that the town’s hotel would be a place I could get something to eat from. But even their restaurant had closed because of covid.

I finally was able to find a kebab place, which was open. It was take away only, as restrictions forbade eating inside. I went to a park and had my lunch in sunny, yet windy spring air. And after that I continued towards my destination.

So what does this have to do with urban exploration. Nothing. I was absolutely not interested in abandoned places that day. I wanted to go to the nature.

But it soon turned out, that things weren’t quite what I had expected.

Winter Games & Ruins

The last days of the year and the decade were approaching. After Christmas I decided to take a trip to my childhood home town to see my god son. It was very wintry there, and he was really happy about it. I really am not a keen fan of snow and frost, but of course I went to play along. In fact we had a grand day out their whole family and me.

Of course if you are a local or a loyal follower, you’ll recognize the place immediately. It has been mentioned in one of my older posts. I did tell you in it, that the ruins of the medieval church and its surroundings are a popular sledhill in the winter.

And of course if you read that post, you’ll know that there’s an old station park behind the area. The station has burned years ago, but there are still some auxiliary buildings left.

Since my previous visit here in 2013, which was described in the post mentioned earlier, they have cleaned up the area somewhat. There were still some abandoned buildings left, as the city wondered, whether they could be preserved or should be demolished.

But not too far was another abandoned house, this time an old farm. My friend told me that it was accessible, and we thought about going in for a while. But we also had my five year old godson and his younger sibling with us. If we entered, they would want, too, and they were too young to be encouraged.

So why not build a snowman instead.

After we left the area and got to my friends’ car, they told me, they wanted to show me something. We drove a bit further away to find this.

It’s a former youth association house abandoned decades ago. It’s historically important, but nobody has looked after it and it probably is beyond rescue. It stands on the site of a 17th century prison and the rumour has it, that they built this house on the prison’s basement.

So much for the 2010’s then, as 2020 was right behind the corner. And as we all know it was a life changing year for everybody, either for the good or the bad. It was such for me too, and especially for my urbex hobby.

But we’ll get to that a bit later.

My Most Failed Urbexperience

Living in the capital region meant, that I was now able to do a daytrip to almost any of the urbex locations I had read about on other explorers’ sites. And there was one location, which had been intriguing me for quite some time.

Laitmanintie was a small road in Western Espoo, where several one family houses had been abandoned years ago. It was a rather well known place for urban explorers and has been covered by several others, like Urbanex Ninja here, for instance.

One day after a day at work I met with a friend and we took a train to Kauklahti to go to see the place to ourselves. What we hadn’t really taken into account was, that it was late November. When we left Helsinki, we could still see clearly from the train windows. When we arrived, it looked like this.

There wasn’t really much hope of getting good pictures, but as we had come this far, we decided to go check the place out anyway.

What we found about 30 minutes later was really nothing. Just a few heaps of scrap.

Another one.

This was the only solid structure we found. As you can see, it was so dark and foggy, I didn’t manage a single sharp photo.

When we found a dog park on a site, where there were supposed to be houses, we decided to leave. Later we learned, that we weren’t even supposed to find anything. All the houses had burned down or been demolished.

Even later I learned, that there would’ve been still one house, which burned down the following summer. I have never returned from an exploration this empty handed.

But as we say in Finland: Towards new disappointments.