Europe: Helsinki.
Published 07-26-2009 on my old wordpress blog.

Passenger deck, 8:03, Helsinki Vuosaari

Hell yes I’m in Finland. Apparently my international data plan doesn’t work here. But free wi-fi on the boat still does! We landed right in the shipping terminal. So far, Finland looks like the San Juans.

Hostel Satakunatatalo, Helsinki, 10:27

So, it took 2.5 hours to get off the boat, catch a bus, transfer to a train, and walk a little bit to the hostel. I can’t check in until 14:00, though. So, I dropped off my pack and am going to go somewhere. Not sure where, though. The train ride here was interesting. I reconnected with my UK teacher friend Shaun and we got each other all kinds of lost on the way to the train station. I should have just followed the pretty pink haired girl I was talking to instead, but no, I picked crazy Welshman and got lost. Ah well.

The Finns have been amazingly helpful so far. Their tourist information people were amazing an gave me a sweet train timetable for my attempt to go north tomorrow. As I was walking to the hostel, some scruffy looking guy offered to help when I was figuring out my map. The hostel lady was real nice, as well. Still pretty psyched on Finland so far. Now, I’m off to find breakfast or adventure!

Kaivopuisto, Helsinki, 12:29

It’s official, Finland rules hard. I walked to a little convenience store and bought a pretty awesome veggie sandwich for breakfast. I talked with the counter lady a little and tried to learn how to say thanks in Finnish from her. I can’t imagine how to type it here, though. I ate my sandwich on a walk past the waterfront. I was jut going to walk a little and then get on the tram, but now I’m at some amazing waterfront park. Even the birds here are friendly. I tried to sneak a picture of a sparrow that came up to say hi, but it was too clever and ran away every time I got the camera out. The weather is perfect, sunny, 70, and a cool ocean breeze. There are some clouds rolling in so it will probably rain on me again, though. I think I’ll buy some ice cream and take the ferry to Bremerton. I mean Suomenlinna, an “island fortress.”

Suomenlinna, Helsinki, 14:00

This place is awesome. It’s kind of like Alcatraz and our northwest forts. There’s a Finnish submarine here where I learned that the Finns are forbidden to have submarines by the WWII peace treaty. I’m now curious what side the Finns were on. They did fight against the Russians, apparently. Were they part of the Axis, or just fighting independently? Hm.

Room 703, Hostel Satakuntatalo, Helsinki, 16:41

I took the tram back from the ferry from Suomenlinna, it was glorious. As with all continental European trains I have been on, no one checked my ticket. I walked a short distance back to my hostel and checked in. Internet won’t reach my room and I have to pay 2€ for a password! Life is so hard!! Okay, that was sarcasm. The room is cool, but weird. It has a twin bed, which I like very much. Hotel double beds make me sad. I still feel like I’m on the boat and every once in a while my balance shifts to compensate for a wave that doesn’t exist. I’m not sure what I’m going to do next in Helsinki. I guess I’ll consult one of my three tourist maps, probably not the one in Russian.

Lounge/Lobby, Hostel Satakuntatalo, 21:34

Somewhere in this last hour or two I got hit by a freight train or something because I’m ruined. On top of that, I’m having one of those evenings where I’m thinking too much. It sort of always happens after really positive or really terrible times. There really is no such thing as escape. But that’s not really why I’m wandering around the world, I guess. I’m just trying to get used to being alone and unable to make myself understood, but still doing as much as I can to stay positive. It’s a steep learning curve. I’ll try to keep it under control for this last bit before I go shower and go to sleep early. Maybe operate on my blisters.

My first stop on tonight’s adventure was to hit the grocery store and pick up picnic dinner. I settled on a mozzarella/tomato sandwich and a bag of Finnish barbeque chips. Neither were very good, unfortunately. I would have been better off going back to the indoor market, but it closed before I left.

I ate my sandwich as I walked towards the Temppeliaukio Kierkke. After seeing a picture of it in my little tourist guide, I remembered reading about it somewhere. It’s a church that has been made by carving a hole in a big rock and putting a top on it. I was pretty excited to check it out when I read about it, I recall. When I got there, it was a bit anti-climactic. Maybe it was just the sandwich that led to the let down. I was hoping to stumble into a free concert, but no such luck. I didn’t see any notices for any in the near future, either. Maybe next time I come to Finland.

After the church in the rock, I walked up the western waterfront. I was having a pretty good walk, so I tried smiling at some ladies and got some second glances or even a tiny grin from some that were in my league. There you go, mom, that’s as good as it’s been. I found the Sibelius Monument, an art installation dedicated to some guy I don’t know anything about. Oh, he was a composer, my tourist book says. I should check out his stuff I guess, because the art was pretty cool.

I walked over to the Olympic stadium, left over from the 1952 olympics. I guess it was alright. It’s open during the day, but I missed the open hours so I just took photos of the depressing ticket booths. There were a couple recreational teams playing soccer in the fields out back, so I sat and watched that for an hour instead. The Women’s UEFA Cup is going to be here next month if you’re curious.

Since my feet hurt so bad, I decided to walk home along the Finnish equivalent if Greenlake. It was very nice, but smaller than Greenlake, I think.

Tomorrow I’m going to ride the free-for-me train somewhere. Maybe Turku, since it’s reputed to be older than Helsinki. The Finnish news is on in the lobby right now. There even rally news of some kind on! It’s pretty fun to listen to, but I’m going to go up to my room and clean up so I’ll look nice for my funeral when I die from walking so much. On my headstone, put “He STILL doesn’t speak much.” Just kidding, I want to be melted down and secretly dumped in the pacific ocean. Just kidding again, I’m probably not going to die.

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Keywords: europe, finland, more walking, travel

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