They'll start the party with a heave-ho me hearty!

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

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Flag of Germany  , Mecklenburg-Vorpommern,
Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Forgive the errors and probably horrendous writing style - I'm using a european keyboard and have had very little sleep in the last 48 hours, so I'm not expecting much out of this entry!

I arrived in Rostock last night around midnight, after a 24 hour ferry ride from Helsinki, Finland.  Unfortunately, the ferry left from a terminal in Helsinki that was....well, not in Helsinki, but rather some 20 kilometers outside of the city.   After taking the metro out to the last stop, the information centre lady told me to take "any number 90 bus".  What she should have said was "any number 90 bus BUT the actual numbre 90".  Dutifully catching the bus, I realized things weren't right when I noticed we were going away from the sea into a birch-forested poor looking suburb.  It was also right around then that I realized the ticket I had wasn't even valid for the suburbs.  So, there I was, riding around on the wrong bus without a valid ticket.  I hopped off, went back to the metro station and eventually got on the right bus, the 90B, largely fare-dodging all the way.   After check-in at the terminal, we were herded onto a shuttle bus and taken out to the ferry.  There weren't that many passengers on the bus out, and I heard a woman talking on her cell phone in Russian about how to make hot chocolate.  We ended up getting off the bus last together, and watching the rest of the group leave the parking level without us.  Thinking the door out of the parking place on the ferry was an automatic one, she and I stood there for a minute or so, until I noticed a sign in English above a button that said 'Push here to open door.' I said, 'I think we need to push this,' in Russian to her, and that single act cemented her as my 'ferry buddy' for the rest of the trip.  Her name was Lena Danilova, and she was living in St Petersburg working as a nanny.  She had been born in Chechnya and worked there was a school teacher before the war, but when war broke out, she left.  Her family eventually followed and they all live in western Russia now.  She told me all about pre-war Grozny and the beautiful library there, which has since been destroyed.  Lena was last back in the city in 1996, but feels no desire to go back.  Everything she ever knew had been destroyed. For those of you who don't know about the war in Chechnya, take a look at these photos.  Would you go back?  I'd like to draw your attention to the sentence 'January 2000 “Russian Victory” Today Gronzy is
no more. 50,000. Russian forces completely surround the city. Artillery and
Airpower turn the city into rubble.''

We found our seats in the hold of the ship, and kept talking.  We were in the elevetor with a young guy about my age, who also began speaking  Russian.  I could tell that he was an English speaker and I asked him where he was from.  It turns out that he was an American who had just finished a month of studies at the Smolny institute in St Petersburg, which is where I studied two years ago.  We spent most of the evening in the bar and out on deck, discussing Russia and our future aspirations, including his of becoming an antique book collector-writer-crepe maker in Paris after he finishes his studies in philisophy.

The ferry itself was quite nice and had a snack bar where we got most of our food.  The crossing was perfectly calm, and for most of the trip, there was no land in sight.  We were completely and utterly surrounded by water.  At one point, as we stood on the deck under the stars, the American commented, 'We could be in the middle of the Atlantic...there's nothing here to tell us where we are.  I feel like I'm on the Titanic.'  It's a bit of an eerie feeling when, as far as the eye can see, there is just water.  Sure, I'm used to the ferry crossing to Vancouver, but at least you can see civilization.  Here, there was nothing, except the murmurings of hundreds of passengers whispering in as many languages.  It was like riding around on a UN ferry, with Estonians, Russians, Swedes, Finns, Slovenians, English, Americans, French all lumped together.  The American and I ran wild on the ferry, carefully visiting all the decks and poking our heads into cabins.  We found almost all of them to be inhabited by Russians, and started to play 'spot and name the nationality'.

Oh Captain, Art Thou Sleeping There Below?

Eventually at midnight, we decided to go to bed.  Being in steerage class, all we had were seats, and they were mighty uncomfortable.  Lena had a sleeping bag, and had offered to let me sleep with her on the floor, but by the time I got to bed, she was already asleep and I thought it rude to wake her, although I later caught her sitting up and staring at me, as if wondering if I was asleep yet and if it would be possible to talk to me.  I nudged over to my seat, stepping on what, in the dark, looked like a pile of rope.  Funny, I thought.  I don't remember that rope being there earlier.  That would be because it wasnt rope, but somebody's hippie head, which was connected to a hippie body that was none to happy about being stepped upon. Unfortunately, I saw this person again at my hostel.  Luckily, we weren't in the same room or else he might have exacted revenge. I spent the next four hours rumbling and turning around, trying to get comfortable.  Finally, at 4 in the morning, I tried lying on the floor, but was freezing cold and gave up and went back to my seat.

The next day passed uneventfully.  Lena, the American and I spent most of the time together, telling jokes and talking about Russia and our homes.  I ended up translating quite a bit, which was a nice little bit of practice, as Lena spoke very little English but was eager to talk.

That evening, as we pulled into Rostock harbour, Lena could hardly contain her excitement.  Although she had travelled before, this was her first time travelling alone, and she was going to see some friends from Russia whom she hadn't seen for two years.  They met at the terminal, and I walked by quickly, just to say goodbye to her.  She grabbed me and told her friend to help me, which she did, after giving me a flower and some fruit.  Although their car was too small, after some discussion in German and Russian, they found me a taxi, and some Finns joined me on the ride.  They got out earlier and paid the bulk of the fare, so instead of paying 25 euros, I ended up paying only 3.

The hostel worked out well - shared a room with a Danish mother and her two children.  Leaving shortly for the train station with the hopes of getting on a train to Berlin.  Auf Wiedersehn!
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bonnemaman on

Ok, I admit it
I had to google that bit and found it to be from Drake's Drum, haha! Sehr gut meine Tochter!

And funnily, after the bit about cognac drinking I commented you were living the life of Bertram Wilberforce Wooster and what do I see but one of his favorite ditties for a title! Sorry this is the best I could do, seems to incorporate Harry Potter, lol!!

Hmmmm......'including his of becoming an antique book collector-writer-crepe maker in Paris after he finishes his studies in philisophy.'....did you propose yet? sounds parfait! I'm glad you ran should always run wild when the opportunity arises, sticking your noses into everything. Sounds like dad, remember that time at that castle, hehe...oh, what's in here I wonder??

Grozny..sad.I looked at the pic..poor relatives of Sasha, one wonders if they survived it all.

gallopmonkey on

Re: Ok, I admit it
haha, it was just something that came to me...I'd forgotten that I knew it until it popped into my head!!

Oh, who did you comment to about my Bertram W Wooster lifestyle?

Yeah, I couldn't believe out of all the people on the boat, I found him to talk to. It was great. hahaha, that time at the castle with dad...oh man.

i know, it is really sad about sasha's family..maybe they left? I haven't heard anything yet from Ekaterina.

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