Hitch Hiking for the first time

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Topi's apt

Flag of Finland  , Western Finland,
Sunday, July 18, 2010

Our first day hitch hiking. WOW. What an experience. We started out at noon and didn't arrive at our destination until 7:30!! The total distance from Helsinki to Turku is 180 KM. This means it should only take approximately 1-2 hours getting there by car. It ended up taking us 7.5 hours!!! Why?? Because hitch hiking takes a long friggin time! We started out by taking a bus from Helsinki to Espo. Then from there we walked to an On Ramp that was heading towards Turku. Jere told us it would take about 1 hour to find a ride there but we were fortunate and were picked up by 72 year old man going home after a "football" game in Helsinki within the first 15-20 minutes. At this point in time we had forgotten that Jere advised us to wait for a direct ride and NOT to take a ride form someone who will only take us part of the way. We must have been very tired when listening to their very...VERY useful advise.

The old man was very kind and friendly. He told us about his daughter in France who adopted a baby from Africa and many other things. He only took us 30 KM but it was good enough for us. The only problem was that he took us to the old highway to Turku instead of the brand new one that everyone currently takes. I wish we had've known that before hand! Nevertheless, he drove us to a nice spot where there was a beach, bathrooms and a cafe. He even told us where a "good" spot was to stand to catch a ride. And so we followed his instructions. 1.5 hours later we finally found another ride. This part wasn't too bad. Yes the sun was high up in the sky and shooting down hot rays of sun which burned the back of my legs and made 30 degree weather, but still we were fine. I was able to sit down and complete a few blogs regarding our previous experiences and Steve was able to take a nap in the sun as we took turns holding our home made "TURKU" sign.

The next car that stopped had two young finish guys in it. I think they picked us up simply to find out what in gods name we were doing hitch hiking on this dead highway in the middle of nowhere. This is when we found out what a mistake it had been to follow the nice man's instructions. The young guys told us about the new road and that people only take this old highway to reach their summer houses; as they were doing. They took us 20 KM to our next hitch hiking point and told us to hope for more young people as themselves to take us further. There were no young people after that. Whatever community we were in was comparable to Elliot Lake; a place for men and women to retire and enjoy their solitude.

We waited there for another hour or so and were picked up by another older gentlemen who could barely speak or understand English. He told us that he could only take us another 5-10 KM and we agreed. He must have liked spiders quite a bit because his arms were filled with tattoos of them and his car had little spider decorations all over. Very interesting. We enjoyed the scenery a lot during these generous rides. We were traveling in the country side, and it looked very much like what we have in Canada. Perhaps the grass was a bit more green. Once this man dropped us off...that was when the pain set in.

We were in the middle of nowhere! There was barely any traffic and the sun was HOT. Oh and we were tired and our feet hurt lol We almost gave up after 2 hours. We were trying to get a ride while standing at a bus stop and saw that a bus was going from that location to Turku. I really didn't want to waste all of the time we had spent hitchhiking by taking a bus we could have taken from the beginning, but at that point standing in the sun for another few hours waiting for a ride that probably wouldn't come seemed worse. Another half an hour went by and Steve was really starting to burn. We had pretty much given up all hope. I was starting to think about where we could go to sleep in the woods (without a tent I might add) when someone actually pulled over!!! We weren't even sure he was there to pick us up. It seemed too good to be true lol But he was and we were thankful to say the least. We got in and he said he could take us to the spot where this old road joins back up to the main highway. The only problem; we were going to have to walk on the main highway and hope someone would stop. If they didn't stop, we'd have to walk 37 KM to the nearest town or 100 to Turku. To make it worse, when he dropped us off we forgot our TURKU sign in his car! We were pretty beat up and disheartened at this point.

Neither of us wanted to chance walking on the side of a major highway where the speed limit was 120 KM/H, so we walked to the nearest bus stop to see if that bus from the previous stop was going to stop there. Of course, we can't read Finish language so we had to guess what time it was going to come at. The information at the stop was set up very weird. We thought it was going to come at 5:20 (the time was currently 5:10) so we waited. By 5:30 it hadn't arrived yet and we realized that we were reading the schedule wrong and that the last bus came at 3:20. So, we had no choice but to chance the highway. Thanks to Jere who gave us several large sheets of paper to write on, we had some materials to create another sign. The pen that I brought had gotten lost sometime throughout the day, so we had to find a way to write on this paper. Thank GOD there was a lady waiting for another bus down the road who was kind enough to give us her pen to keep. I made another sign that seemed viable enough and we walked a couple of KM towards the  main highway.

When we arrived on the highway, there didn't seem to be any safe area to stand and flag down a car let alone for them to stop and pull over. So, Steve and I walked single file on the side of the road holding our sign out in hopes of someone stopping for us or to find a safe place to stay put. Did I mention the speed limit was 120 KM/H!? If you were on that road what speed would you drive? Probably 20 over. I don't think I need to say that they were going fast! Quite scary. But for some reason also quite thrilling. Not that I would do it again simply for the thrill in it. I will always take the safest route possible, but we had no choice! Plus people jump out of a friggin plane for christ sake! Compared to that, I guess it really wasn't that bad haha My mother would disagree I'm sure.

Anyways, after about 20 minutes (well I'm not sure how much time passed or how much distance I wasn't really focusing on that) some crazy person actually stopped for us! THANK GODDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD We had to run up to his car and he was already yelling "Hurry hurry get in get in!!!" And we did. He was going all the way to Turku!!! So we didn't have to walk the last 87KM after all. THANK GOD haha I can't say that enough.

This man was really unique.He traveled from Turku to Helsinki every now and then for work. He was an electrician who helped make the Ferries that Steve and I will be taking from Turku to Stockholm, Sweden. I think he said that he moved from Italy to Finland 20 years ago, I'm not sure why. I assume for work. The first thing we both noticed about this man was that he lived his life FAST. He drove fast, spoke fast, thought fast, reacted fast....everything fast! We were driving at 140K KM/H the whole way. Well, until he came to a camera that would gauge his speed and send him a ticket. Then he slowed down haha In this case however, I didn't mind how fast he was driving. I just wanted to get there! He asked us if we minded having a 10 minute break so that he could stop at the gas station and of course we didn't. I think he enjoyed having company because he wanted us to join him wherever we went. And again, of course we didn't mind.

We went inside with him and he bought us pineapple juice and showed us a place where I could fill up my water, then we went outside and chatted while he had a cigerette. He told us that he was familiar with the location of our next host and that he would drive us all the way there. And so he did. He drove us right to his doorstep. We were super lucky!

So we're back at the beginning. It was 7:30 and our day hadn't even ended yet.
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