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February 7: Utö – misty introduction

The first full day on Utö was misty and relatively mild, lending a rather alluring air of mystery as we toured around the island for the first time.

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This is the yard right outside the hostel building as I saw it when venturing out for breakfast. The hostel and the rest of the buildings (such as these storage buildings) belonging to the hotel that owns it (Utö Havshotel) used to belong to the military, if I remember correctly.

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The view out from the dining hall in the main building of the hotel; note the stone labyrinth.

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A splash of color in a decidedly gray environment: lichen growing on the concrete railing of the balcony outside the dining hall.

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An affectionate cat that we met outside the dining hall.

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One of the only wooded areas on the island. The generous spacing of the trees makes me think of the Hundred Acre Wood, for some reason.

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From the village, a view up to the lighthouse.

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Here's a closer view of the lighthouse, with its highly distinctive colors.

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And yet closer.

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Nearby is the pilot station. The waters around Utö are treacherously rocky, so cargo ships have to be led through them by a pilot, based here, who knows them inside out.

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Stenhuset (Stone House, so called because it's one of the only masonry buildings on the island) is a museum about Utö; it's also (I think) the oldest building on the island, built, as see here, in 1753.

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Swans in a Tanguyan unworld.

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The Utö church.

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Helipad. Matt and James are a helicopter. Can you tell?

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The heath that extends over most of the unsettled southern lobe of the island.

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Here at the southern tip of the island are the two pavilions designed and built by the previous year's class. This is just one of them.

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It's built over and around this old bunker.

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A nearby memorial to a shipwreck.

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Here's the other pavilion, whose shape follows the lay of the rocks underneath.

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Another bunker on the way back to the village.

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Mineral accretions on the bunker wall.

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A Very Friendly Lab Retriever that we met and cuddled on the way back.

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A typical view from the village toward the harbor; there are dozens of these boathouses over the water there.

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Large cargo ship passing through.

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Looking from my bedroom window to some other buildings of the hotel; the building to the left contains one of the saunas.

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A few of us went back to the south end of the island that night to explore the bunkers further. It was a little creepy, but the gusty wind somehow mitigated that — it was far better than, say, a deathly calm. Not mitigating the creepiness was this kind of scene, where it looked like the inhabitants had vanished suddenly. The light source here is not the camera flash but the LED light from my headlamp.

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An old gun mount.

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Some 20-year-old inscritchings.

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WHO WAS TJ? [Edit, June 2011: It has been clarified that "TJ" stands for "tänään jäljellä," which means "days remaining," and that this is a common sort of thing to notate while in service in the Finnish army. The conscript who wrote this would have had 221 days remaining in his service on Utö. Thanks Jari]