A Quiet End to a Loud Sixteen Months

Trip Start Apr 01, 2008
Trip End Aug 2008

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Flag of Finland  , Southern Finland,
Saturday, July 26, 2008

I was excited to be back in Europe after fifteen months self exile. I had spent a total of a year in Asia travelling, the majority by land, and in the middle of that, five months living and working in Australia. With just a few days between Helsinki and home my thoughts sat heavy and awkward.

Arriving on a Saturday morning I was surprised to find Helsinki's centre in quite a mess. It resembled a pavement outside a chippy after all the pubs had closed, the paving was littered with beer bottles and McDonalds amongst others. Two dodgy African fellas came up asking for cigarettes. I expected a spick and span northern European capital. That was to show its face later in the day when the dregs of a Friday night had been seen to by street cleaners.

Helsinki is the quietest capital I have been to. Good public transport meant little traffic in the centre. The people were quiet, public squares and other spaces lacked good atmosphere and laughter wasn't as common. Plentiful decent modern architecture sat respectfully beside the older stone buildings. The sun continued to shine as it had throughout Russia and I enjoyed these relaxing days in the company of a lovely Slovenian called Lina and an Austrian called Philipp. Helsinki is nice. Its not amazing, there is nothing bad about it, it's just very nice, tame and pleasant. It was an ideal place to precede catching that flight back home.

I was taking a 110 Euro Ryanair flight to London from Tampere, a few hours north of Helsinki. It was my first flight since Xiamen, China. I was proud to have achieved such a long journey without flying. On the coach north to Tampere I sat on my own, musing and mulling over returning home. A life of constant daily change; of new places, new conversations, new ways, new tests and new people was over. I tried to focus on something but focused on nothing at all. I helped a lady with her bag on the plane. She was ungrateful and I became irritated. Stanstead airport floor saw little sleep from me before I boarded the 6:10am, 45 minute flight to Glasgow.
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