Trip Start Jun 02, 2009
Trip End Aug 10, 2009

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Flag of Finland  , Southern Finland,
Sunday, July 12, 2009

So I was all ready to write something about wonderful Finland is, blah blah blah (it's still pretty great), but then I had quite the evening.  I admit it.  I cry "uncle!" Finland is not the boring country I was expecting, and it seems that French people are like the Hare Krishna - if you hear them before you set out somewhere, something out of the ordinary is guaranteed to happen.  I went down to the laundryroom this afternoon, dripping wet and in the clothes I sleep in (I'd had a shower and basically thrown everything I own into the washing machine), and some people start asking me in French how to operate the machines.  Why they thought I spoke French, I have no idea.  Maybe that's all THEY spoke.  In any case, I helped them, retrieved my own laundry and sallied forth into the wonderful world of Helsinki to grab a glass of wine at a sidewalk cafe.  While seated and thinking about what I was going to write in this blog, a guy walked up to me and sat down.  I couldn't stop him and he wouldn't go away.  He was Sambo from Ghana (that's what he told me his name was; I'm not a racist!) and he wanted to talk.  It was pretty ridiculous and I couldn't make him leave.  Finally I got talking to some people from Scotland who had relatives in Victoria, and they asked, "are you ok?" (I replied yes; he wasn't dangerous, just annoying).  He then said, "let's go for a walk," to which I replied, "I'm going to sit here and write and people watch.  BYE."  He left, and I soon did as well - down to Market Square to get an ice cream.  I paid more than I usually would, and received the most delicious, cherry, creamy ice cream...I licked my lips and got cherry skin bits out of my teeth.  This was heaven, perfect....and then it was no more.  The next thing I know, it's sitting on the ground.  It's not because it melted - oh no, that would be too easy.  It was all due to a gang of dive-bombing seagulls who hungrily devoured my expensive treat.  I bought a cheaper one, and, in a move that make dam busters proud, another bloody bird grabbed my hair with its feet.  I ended up walking through the square like a Dostoevsky character - hunched over, cluching everything close to my body, occasionally waving my arms and yelling in English, "Go on, get!  go on!  Shoo!"

Freak on a Leash

Helsinki is a pretty interesting city of contrasts - on one hand, you have terribly accomplished young musicians who set up on Alexanderskatu and Esplanadi and, forming their own string quartets, play Beethoven and entertain everyone seated at sidewalk cafes.  On the other hand, you have a lot of heavy metal fans.  You have a country that produces this ( - Finlandia, by Sibelius) and the recent winners of a Eurovision year, which I can't find on Youtube at the moment.  It's heavy metal.  Now, I"d seen the classical side, and I was curious about the other side.  I ended up getting more than I bargained for yesterday.  There's a place outside of the centre called the Cable Factory - it's a factory (that oddly enough used to produce cable) that has been converted into a 15 hectare arts and culture centre.  It's closed on the weekend, but some of the museums are open, and I wanted to see the photography exhibit.  I rolled off the tram and saw a crowd of people.  My, what a crowd.  Sojme were dressed in Chinese hats, and others were dressed as Peter Pan, and some had their faces entirely covered in one big bandage (the Invisible Man, anyone?). Yet others were dressed in renaissance clothing, and some wouldn't have looked out of place truding through the Russian winter of 1918 in their great coats.  There was one with a sign that said, "Do you want to become one with the Russian?  Yes, or no?" (I wondered if the great coat man and the sign girl knew each other), and yet another with a sign that said, "Ich habe Sauerkraut in meinem Leiderhosen." (For those non-German speakers, that would be "I have sauerkraut in my leiderhosen). It made the goths, punks and heavy metal heads look positively normal.  I'm assuming this isn't your average Finn, although to be honest, I really don't know...

Santa's Not Going to Be Happy About This...

This morning, while waiting for something to start, I took a wander through Market Square, hoping to score some of The World's Most Delicious Ice Cream.  I was staring sadly at all the "closed" signs in the ice cream kiosk windows, when I happened upon a food kiosk that was open.  It smelled delicious, but I wanted ice cream, damn it!  I passed it by on the quest for ice cream, but somehow - I don't know how - it called me back, and before I myself knew what was happening, my mouth was open and the words, "Can I have the reindeer pan please?" were coming forth. Suddenly, there was the reindeer pan itself sitting in front of me, and driven by a magical force, I had picked up the fork and was chowing down on potatos, jam, pickles, reindeer sausage and spicy reindeer patties.  Finland is the place were Lapland is located, and Lapland is famous for reindeer herders.  I think the herders have been herding those puppies right into the meat grinder, and let me tell you, they are delicious.  Nom nom nom.
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bonnemaman on

Doomed ice cream gosh, I had tears for you on that one!! Ummm....what else, I've forgotten now....oh ya, Dostoevsky...I happened to read the first few pages of The Idiot the other day, I think I'll take back all 45 of my current library books and attempt it...I'll be thinking of you.

I'm going back to watch Finlandia. Did you see that statue commemorated to Sibelius? It's in a park there, when the wind blows through it, it makes a noise I think...kind of like that sound Amelie encoutered in the Tunnel of Luv.

gallopmonkey on

Re: Doomed ice cream
some guys were watching me, and I just shrugged my shoulders and said, 'what can you do?' I'll never laugh at the 'beware of seagulls: they will attack your ice cream!' signs again. I didn't ACTUALLY believe it when I first saw them.

The Idiot is on my list...oh thanks, you'll read a book called the Idiot and think of me? :) Some real parental support there, cheers!

Yup, the statue in the park was on the tour that I went on. There are some classy pictures of me sticking my head up the tubes.

anywhoo, I'm leaving tonight at 21:00 and hope to get to Berlin sometime after Rostock. The weather's not great, I hope the ferry sails...

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