The trip begins at a central bus station. Although it may sound warm and exotic the actual climate here is damp and cold. Aland - nearly seven thousand rocky islands, a region that encompasses an archipelago at the entrance of the Gulf of Bothnia in the Baltic Sea. Just like Ukraine's Crimea, Aland is an autonomous region and although nowadays it is the only Swedish-speaking region in Finland... Aland islands were under the rule of the Russian Empire. And seemingly, Russia's interest in the Finnish autonomy has not faded yet.
So what's it like for the Finns to live right beside a neighbour that stole a part of their land? From a Ukrainian standpoint that sounds way-too-familiar.
The Kremlin grip on the neighbouring ex-Soviet states is evident, but it's not that easy to spot in Finland, at least not with a naked eye.
The phenomena of cross-border shopping. It is a part of the Finland/Russia frontier too. The Russian language can be heard everywhere here. Special buses bring shoppers here several times a day.