Death To Rudolph

Trip Start Oct 13, 2012
Trip End Nov 19, 2012

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Flag of Finland  , Southern Finland,
Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Aahh Finland. Land of Death Metal, and girls with short hair, square glasses, and lots of piercings. Getting here from Tallinn was easy. There are regular ferries that travel back and forth to Helsinki every day!

Since the travel time to Helsinki was only 3 hours, I assumed these ferries were like bare bones type of ships with places for cars and maybe some kind of lounge with lots of seats or something. But once I boarded the ship I found a complete cruise ship! Several restaurants and bars, a little shopping mall, and even a supermarket! And the whole ship was packed with people returning to Helsinki after a weekend getaway to Estonia. Apparently is really popular to visit Estonia because things are much cheaper there than they are in Finland, so everybody was carrying huge shopping bags full of stuff back with them. Some people even had their own carts they brought along. And they were full of beer, alcohol, and cigarettes. As much as they could carry. Unbelievable.

I arrived just after 4 pm and it was already dark and raining, so I took a taxi to my really nice hotel. It was early yet so I decided to venture out and see what's around. For a saturday night it was really quiet on the streets, but I did manage to find a cool bar just down the street so I stopped in for a beer. It seemed to be like a real locals bar and everyone just kinda looked at me when I came in and started speaking English. Then I took a couple of photos and almost immediately I was confronted by one of the patrons asking me why I was taking photos and if he was in any of them. I showed him the ones I took and he made me delete one that showed him in the background. Apparently they have an actual law here that bans anyone from photographing another individual without their consent. And they can call the police! Crazy!

Realizing that I was surrounded by a bunch of people who are just a little bit paranoid, I decided to just sit there, drink my beer, and watch the big hockey match between Sweden and Finland that was on the TV. I went over the jukebox and saw that they had an awesome music selection, so once I put on a couple of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden songs, people started to warm up to me. Then another local named Olli came over and introduced himself and we started talking. He explained that most of this stuff about photos being taken was because for decades they lived so close to the Soviet Union and the place was full of KGB spies during the Cold War. Olli's wife was out at a heavy metal concert so he was just hanging by himself. I was hungry so I asked hime about restaurants in the area. He then invited me to have dinner with him at a great restaurant down the street. He took me to a great authentic Finnish restaurant and we had an awesome dinner. After dinner it was back to the bar for more drinks. Everyone back at the bar was really cool and I had a great time.

The next day was rainy and cold, so I just spent the day wandering the streets of the city center. There's a couple of cool churches, and a museum or two around but other than that there's not much to do. I stopped in a few souvenir shops. Apparently there are reindeer running around everywhere in this country because that's just about all they sell. Reindeer hides, reindeer antlers made into everything from letter openers to silverware. Every single piece of a reindeer is turned into something. One thing's for sure, don't bring any little kids that love Rudolph to Finland because that's gonna be a hard thing to explain LOL!

And it gets dark super early at like 3:30 p.m. so people head to the bars and start drinking early. And boy do they drink. And when they're finished drinking, they drink some more. I guess it's because it's so depressing around here with nothing but cold, rain, and no sunlight.

The weather cleared up a bit on my second day which was great because I planned to visit the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress which was the main defensive fort protecting Helsinki for hundreds of years. You have to take a ferry to get there and man was it cold! The wind was blowing at full gale force for sure. I almost couldn't stand up! The island is big and it takes a good half day to walk around it and see everything, but the place was almost completely deserted except for the few people that live there. But this place is a photographer's paradise, and the sun came out just in time for me to get some fantastic photos. I'll be this place is really great in the summer time.

I spent the rest of my time here just riding the city tram around and checking things out. They have a great ultra-modern tram system here that NOBODY IS PAYING FOR! I'm serious, each tram has these scanners that you're supposed to scan your metro card on but not one single person does it. So there is absolutely no way to tell who has paid for these cards and who hasn't. I asked one lady sitting next to me, and she just shrugged her shoulders and said it's cheaper to pay the 80 Euro fine if get caught then it is to actually pay for the metro card. Unbelievable!

But all in all Finland was a great place to visit. The people are nice, and the food is fantastic! I'm sure it is much nicer in the summer time though......
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