Everything good must come to an end…


The night out in Jyvaskyla was fun. We bussed into the city and walked up to a bar that seemed very local. Dark music and sketchy Finnish characters. Quite a few rounds went down there until the first game of the soccer world cup started at 11pm and a bunch of us filed over to the English bar around the corner that was playing it. The English bar was so much more welcoming than the Finnish one and I had a great time watching the game, watching the locals and hanging out with our passengers in a more formal situation (as opposed to campsites). Everyone was drinking ‘long drinks’ which they had found out at Santa’s workshop are the real authentic drinks of Finland. they are a gin and grapefruit juice drink that is white like a really cloudy sprite and oh so sweet. I really liked them! Once the game finished I don’t think we were quite sure what to do with ourselves and we went back to the first bar where many were still hanging out. People wanted to dance and so they went out exploring but I did a fail of a smoke bomb with 6 others and taxied back to the hostel. I say failed because I was trying to go off with just a few others and then all of a sudden we had enough of us for a maxi taxi. Back at the hostel it was my first night that I had a room to myself and Monika said she didn’t sleep as well without me (she might have been lying) I however was in love with the peace! Don’t worry though Mon, I still missed your chatter in the morning 🙂

Hello Helsinki!

I was up early to get into the hostel kitchen and check out my frittata and was cheering because all was good. Out in the raining morning I packed the lunches with Tom who was up especially early and we were able to pack everything down super early because we were having breakfast in the hostel! The first meal I hadn’t served in 10 days! The drive down to Helsinki was not a long one, maybe 4 hours? We were in around 1pm and had a cool little driving tour where we got to go up a tower at the Olympic stadium, play with a musical statue in a park and visit a church hewn out of the rock around it and famed for its acoustics. It was actually a wonderfully calm and dare I say it, spiritual, church. Open, bright and natural, a place I enjoyed.

When we parked at the hostel I pretty much just put my bags down and ran out the door to find the nearest hospital in order to have the checkup that Oslo hospital told me that I needed done on my hand. What a saga that turned into. As briefly as possible, I walked a few kilometers to the nearest one, told the receptionist that I needed a check up x-ray done on my hand. She said sure and charged me 150 to have an appointment in an hour. I waited the hour and after 2 minutes in the doctors room he told me he couldn’t do the x-ray because they don’t have the machine! I got my money straight back thank goodness and caught a taxi over to the hospital he recommended.

In reception there they looked at me like I was stupid and told me that I had to go to the x-ray department. I waited there for a while until someone asked if I had the paperwork from the GP. I said no and she sent me 2 floors up to the GP. The reception there charged me the 150 again and I waited another hour to see the doctor who sent me back down to x-ray. Finally I got an x-ray taken. Then a lot of umming and ahhing went on with me in the middle of it until finally the doctor said to me that they couldn’t even see a fracture! ‘There is a little spot where there might be something’ he said but that really it was all fine and healed. I tentatively asked if that meant that I could have the cast off early? He told me no, and that the cast I had on was so good that they didn’t want to put a new one on it. Happy that I was healed I went out and paid reception a few more euros (the whole time going ‘its ok, you are going to claim it back’) before hopping in with a very cheery taxi driver and I was home just after 7.

I should also mention how impressed I was that everyone I spoke to had fluent English and most were able to read the note from the first hospital that was in Norwegian! Try going into an Australian hospital speaking Finnish and flashing a Norwegian letter and see how far you get!

Being all fancy out on the town

I got dressed up that night and a bunch of us went out for dinner. We ended up in quite a fancy restaurant where we only felt a little out of place where we ate things like snails, raw prosciutto like deer meat and a lot of good solid meat. Again we went out to see the soccer after. Just 6 of us made it to a pumping bar where the Netherlands was well on their way to giving Spain a walloping. It was a great game but it couldn’t tempt me to stay out for Australia’s game at 1am. As we walked in to the hostel I saw them singing the anthem, sweat already dripping from their faces in the humidity and was happy for the cool weather we were having.

The second day in Helsinki dawned without rain so I browsed the city with Tom, checking out the cool main shopping street (still looking for a Norse jumper) a Russian Church in full service and finally we had a few rounds on the Ferris wheel down at the harbour. The sun was even smiling down at us a we boarded the ferry at about 1pm. We are all ferry experts at this point and very quickly had settled into the favorite pastime of the trip, cards. Moose, Tom and I also managed to play all the games in the arcade, but mostly we played cards. 2 hours was all it took to reach Tallinn which is part of the reason that so many Finnish people manage to find the time to cross the waters in search of booze.

One of the liquor stores – SuperAlko!

The majority of the passengers on the ferry had huge empty duffel bags or collapsible trolleys and when we saw them on the other side coming back, it was evident what the space was being used for. Alcohol ruled this ferry line. Cases and cases of the stuff, apparently much cheaper than you can get in Helsinki. it was quite strange really, the port is surrounded by bottle shops, and our hotel. Again when we got checked in I was on a mission. I left Monika with our new joining passengers and ran in to town in search of souvenirs. It only took me a few hours to put together a little show bag with some gifts from Estonia for each of the passengers and I was just in time to meet the passengers back in the old town. Everyone had dressed up for the occasion and were loving their first sight of Tallinn.

Tallinn

They were about to love it even more when we got to our restaurant for the night ‘Olde Hanza’. This restaurant is spectacular. To start with everyone is in medieval costume and acting the part. The restaurant is all big wooden ceilings, candlelit rooms, tapestries, earthenware mugs, bowls and plates. We had our hands washed for us before the meal and our bread was officially broken and the feast began. It could have started and ended with the appetizers and I would have been happy. Fat green olives, chicken liver pate, onion jam, mixed forest berries, soft cheese with dill, capsicum relish and the most fragrant, soft, warm and wholesome breads that you have ever eaten and which we ripped apart with our hands as instructed. Mains included lentils, barley, squash, rabbit stew, salmon, bear and elk sausages and finally there was apple strudel for dessert. The wines and beers were unlike anything we had tasted before and the entertainment of julz’s 🙂 dance off with a Finnish man on the next table, whilst being quite worrying, was definitely entertaining. I ate my own body weight in food I’m pretty sure and was in actual pain whilst I paid the bill. Definitely a highlight.

Olde Hanza
Wade and Julz 🙂 at Olde Hanza

Monika had a shots bar to take us to next but I was too full to even fit in one single shot. I had settled by the time we went to the club later though and was so excited when we got in and saw that they were painting people up in neon paint. Our group went crazy. Everyone had the biggest grins on their faces as they danced and danced. I didn’t think it was possible but when ‘drinking from the bo(ttle)’ came on the excitement picked up another notch and I thought it was a particularly memorable moment. I had to tear myself away at 2:30, knowing I would only have a few hours sleep before getting up to see people off. It was the sensible thing to do, and for some reason I am often quite sensible.

Boys on the town 🙂

First I had to put a drunk passenger speaking fluent French to bed and then I managed to squeeze those few hours of sleep in before getting up to see off Mel and Anna and give them their presents. I packed the others when I went back up to my room and sat in reception for several hours giving them out and collecting feedback forms whilst passengers rotated around me. Monika was meeting even more joining passengers and taking them on a walking tour so I woke up those who looked like they were going to sleep through their checkout time and made my way in to town to meet everyone at town hall for lunch (which we were paying for).

Waiting for lunch

Delicious elk soup, forest animal pies and apple pies was what was on the menu and again they went down a treat. These guys love their meat! Farewells were done at the end of lunch and the remaining of us arranged to meet back here for dinner. We had a few things to do back at the hotel first, Monika and I researched restaurants, did accounts, had a great chat to Welshy who told me all about my next bit of work coming up (more about that soon!) and went shopping for the next days lunch.

Moose got just a small beer tasting platter…

he restaurant we found was called the beer hall, nothing crazy, but again it had servers dressed in costume and a huge selection of Estonian old style food. Meg touched me by making a thank you speech on behalf of the other passengers for my cooking and company and some of the other passengers had even bought me a card and earrings which was totally unexpected and really touched me. Monika and I let them all go off after dinner to drink, with no desire to follow, we were both like the walking dead by the time we were back at the hotel.

These sweeties

I got a shock when I woke up this morning and my room was devoid of Monika. She had packed and left without me even hearing her! I jumped up and dressed and ran downstairs to say goodbye to everyone. There were lots and lots of hugs and I almost lost it, especially when meg was hugging me but she told me to pull it together and I did. A sunny day in Tallinn and several hours of skyping my family and Claire almost distracted me from everyone leaving, but I really wish that I could have continued the trip, just for the reason of hanging out with all those new friends.

Colin and Wade loved eating like Vikings
Monika and I
Tallinn old town
What a maze!
Town hall

 

Forest animal pies
Gates to old town
Market in town hall square
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