Hey Hey, Helsinki!

Trip Start Jun 21, 2008
Trip End Aug 03, 2008

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Flag of Finland  , Southern Finland,
Saturday, July 5, 2008

Slept in until 8:30 today - nice!  That's the good thing about having a pitch-black cabin all to yourself!  Grabbed a quick juice before disembarking and hopping onto a bus tour - normally I wouldn't bother with these, but time is limited here as I will be catching the night ferry back to Stockholm this evening. 

I find the greetings to be cute here - they say "Hey hey!"  Especially cuter when said by attractive Scandinavian females ... some funny stories were told by the tour guide - once upon a time, Helsinki's sea fortress was taken without force by the Russians.  It was a complete embarrassment because the fortress was considered invincible, being on the water and all - but in the winter time when everything froze over, the Russian army just marched right over and took it.  How come nobody ever thought of that earlier?

Apparently, wars never used to be fought during the winters in this region.  One war did start just before winter, but when it became cold and snowy, they simply stopped fighting.  Helsinki was founded just to support and supply the sea fort.   

The tour finished up and I wandered around the waterfront market.  Food!  There were some slight differences between the seafood vendors so I just went with whatever looked the most appealing to me.  Unfortunately it wasn't like Bergen and there were no female Spanish workers - that probably would have made my choice for lunch MUCH easier had there been.  There were some native South American workers, however.  Again, there are tons of Spanish tourists here - unfortunately, none of them are aged within 10-15 years of me :(

I walked along Helsinki's esplanade, a long street filled with shops - it's hot today!  It must have been 26 or 27 degrees.  It was nice walking up and down from the harbour area, though a little bit toasty.  I'm glad that I decided not to stay overnight in Helsinki - there wasn't much going on there.   

I wandered back to the ferry and came across another food market housed inside one of the terminal buildings - this would be a great place to stop for lunch as there were all types of ethnic foods available.  I picked up a sandwich to eat for dinner later - it wasn't that it was cheaper than food on board the ship, it's just that I don't want to give the ferry line any more of my money!  I'd rather it go to some hard-working family, instead. 

Being soaked with sweat and dehydrated after returning to the ship, I wandered over to the cafeteria, where they had a big container of ice water available.  I sucked down a few cupfuls and the worker scolded me, saying that they charge for the water.  WTF?  For the same water that I can get out of my bathroom sink in my cabin?  I asked "How much?" and you could hear the gears cranking in her empty little head, trying to make up a number. 

She was just being difficult and shows how these cruise lines try to nickel and dime or gouge customers - nobody said anything last night when I ordered food from the cafeteria and drank the water.  "50 cents" she finally told me.  Really, she just didn't want me to drink the water without ordering any food.  So I handed over 50 cents with a smile, proceeded to suck down a few more cupfuls, smiled some more, and left.  Once she put a price on the water, she really couldn't say anything about me drinking a ton of it. 
Once I cooled down, I took a quick little siesta (those Spaniards are such geniuses for coming up with the concept!)  "Up Leon" was doing some extra acrobat shows, first in the theatre, then in the promenade.  These guys are actually pretty good when they stick to the acrobatics, but when they try and put together an actual stage show ... it's not that great. 
Their main show was nothing more than a re-hash of last night's performance, with a bit of a pirate theme.  No real story line; just some vague pirate references, pirate costumes, and some movie clips from "Pirates of the Caribbean".  The Pirate Captain in the production just kept repeating "Aarrgh ... ha ha ha!  Black Pearl!  Aarrgh ... Black Pearl!  Ha ha ha!"  I don't think he'll be laughing so hard once Disney's lawyers come calling!
After, I caught another sunset and listened to some music.  It was nice to get outside - truthfully, I feel kind of trapped on this ferry.  For me, the ferry was simply transportation to and from Helsinki - I find nothing entertaining about casinos or duty-free shopping.  Did some planning for Copenhagen in my cabin, and that was pretty much it for the night.  Another night of captivity on a pirate ship of crap!  
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