"Shut up and drive"

Trip Start Mar 10, 2008
1
7
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Trip End Mar 17, 2008


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Flag of Finland  ,
Friday, March 14, 2008

I was the ferry by 6.45, it didn't leave until 7.30- luckily the onboard bar had already opened, so naturally I decided to partake in a beer.  Before long the ship was moving out of Tallinn and I had myself moved..onto a second beer. Pilsner Urquell, ace stuff, Czech and nothing to do with either of the countries I was travelling between, but still very good.  I decided to leave the hit and miss Estonian beers behind and not try Finnish beer until I stepped ashore, so Czech it was.
      Two laters and three beers later we approached Helsinki and the many islands that surround it and I went out onto the Sun deck to take a few photos..not exactly inspiring, I expected the sea to be frozen, it normally is at this time of year.  Oh well, can't win them all.
    Disembarked from the ship and began wandering into Helsinki, which I took an instant dislike to..maybe its because I found the port really depressing (it's a port..they're not really that great are they?), but I think its probably because I was tired and ever so slightly hungover.  I headed towards the city centre, noting the city wasn't the most beautiful I'd visited so far- but finding a free toilet right next to a pay toilet (these are a fixture all over Helsinki- I don't see why anyone would pay to use the bog when they could go for free..?), another point to me in my eternal battle against Europes pay toilets.
    Afterwards I grabbed some food and headed towards the massive Orthodox cathedral gleaming white above everything else- I don't know what it is about Orthodox Cathedrals that makes them so much cooler than Catholic ones in my opinion- maybe its because we don't really have many in England.  There were a few tourists around it, but not that many at all over the spread of the city as I walked through it, settling at a small internet cafe (which was free, just outside the library- I tried to use one of the computers inside but a woman told me they were jsut for jobseekers..which explained why I couldn't navigate away from the page.  Sent a few e-mails e.t.c.  I had also noticed a bar called "Henrys pub" just across the street and went in there to have a pint of the poorly named "Koff".  Decided Finnish beer is far from the best in the world (but still above Italian).  The barmaid came over to me and recommended another pub which was slightly cheaper. Which was nice, I promptly went there and ordered a darker Finnish beer, this was much better, not quite Czech, or even Bosnian, but certainly better than the piss that passes for beer in Hungary).  After this I headed across to the Games workshop across the street- I used to collect their models, years ago, I stopped when I discovered the joys of alcohol, heavy metal music and Norwegian girls.
   Thus I walked in and had a brief conversation with the bloke about the particular armies I used to collect (Dark Eldar and Necrons for any 40k buffs out there) and left, heading across the square towards the main road.
      A woman then approached me with a begging card (unusually written in Finnish, they are almost universally English) she said all the usual bollocks "I've no food! need money!". I glanced across at two older (obviously Eastern European..at a guess Romanian Gypsies) watching proceedings.  They were obviously the leaders of this particular group (there were others harassing the Finns) I promptly yelled "No!" and walked off.  Another girl, who can't have been more than ten then came over to me and in an act of fury which I'm not exactly proud of I told her to fuck off and "get a job like everyone else does".  I made a similer comment to the Gypsies running the proceedings as well.  I can't stand beggars, and I particularly hate the ones who actually come over to you asking for money.  Especially the cunts with cards- most of them are from organised gangs anyway.  Nobody made them come to fucking Finland did they? (of course they may have been traffiked but I don't think so- you wouldn't transport someone across the continent to be used as a beggar surely? prostitution is often the occupation the unfortunates who are traffiked find themselves in).  They can't cope somewhere, they should go to their embassy to get sent home. Ok, rant over.
       Anyway, took a long walk to the Olympic stadium, which is pretty cool, but nothing spectacular really...I mean, its just a stadium and in a few years we'll have our own (which will be better..or better be after we've pissed away so much public money on it).  I then dropped into a small pub and had a beer before buying a few t-shirts from the souvenier shop nearby- t-shirts are the one thing I buy from these kind of places.
   It was nearly 5 o'clock so I went to the Campii cafe to meet my couchsurfing contact in Helsinki, Jenna.  I brought a beer, sat down and waited for her. She finished her shift and we had a short conversation before grabbing a pizza from somewhere else.  The Finns, judging on all the evidence, make a rather good pizza.
    Afterwards we wandered through the city, taking photos of the churches and the presidents palace e.t.c, Jenna was exceptionally good at the role of "tour guide".  We then headed back towards her apartment.  Only to be stopped by a Kenyan man who asked the way to the Rihanna concert- Jenna said she'd drive him there in his car (obviously relishing the chance to drive), two other Finnish girls were already in the car, looking very angrily at the Kenyan bloke.
   Before I knew it, we were hurtling through the nighttime streets of Helsinki (I was wondering if this was the point they were going to kill me), instead we arrived at the Rihanna concert and me and Jenna headed to a nearby train station, faredodging on a train back to the city centre before catching a tram to a shop near her apartment where we purchased beer before heading into her apartment (in Lenins former block of flats by the way..for those interested).
  We then listened to the Beatles, saw the end of Layer Cake (I never knew Tamar Hasan was in it) and watched "without a trace"- which remains bollocks, despite what people say about it.  During this point we had drank our beers and so went to a bar nearby, which was full of old Finns, but was welcoming enough- we had quite a discussion about history (she admitted siding with Nazi Germany wasn't Finlands best idea) and how the Swedes seemed to hate them- we agreed to go on a double date there at some point with her boyfriend and Anniken (my beautiful Norwegian girlfriend, for those casual readers).  About 1am we went back to her apartment and I crashed on her settee.
    Woke up the next day and we went through a small Finnish market where I tried a traditional cake, Jenna also showed me the Finnish equivalant of a Pound Shop (Equally crap looking based on the outside) and I was delighted to find a big poster of Lordi on a  shopping centre wall as we said our goodbyes.
  I then headed to the bus stop (grabbing a beer on the way) and caught the bus towards the airport...destination Stockholm
  
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