Friday, 7 October 2011

69 The last days of Scandinavia

Tuesday 4th October.
 Up by 7 am. Another grey day but at least it is not raining. Hit McDonalds for a breakfast and free internet, failed at breakfast, the Finnish people obviously do not like sausage and egg McMuffins.  We are in Kuopio which is a fairly large town in the middle of Finland.  Today our mission is to get to Helsinki and then spend 2 or 3 days there.  The road was straight, forest either side it was a long day driving.  We had searched out a campsite and it appeared quite busy, though it turned out half of it was shut down for renovation.  After much prevaricating with the staff we managed to secure ourselves a small hut which had four bunks in it, a fridge and a micro wave, but no running water or toilet facilities, plus we were about 500m from the nearest toilet block, so forward planning was a must. Not to be deterred though, we got out our porta loo and stuck it in the cabin and were immediately upgraded to on-suite.

Wednesday 5th
We drove into Helsinki. The weather was lovely again and we decided that we would do our hop on/hop off tour of the city. We drove down to the port where we thought we could pick it up, only to find that it had stopped, mid September.  We purchased our boat tickets for Estonia instead and walked into town to do some sightseeing. We passed the Russian Cathedral, and found ourselves at the market in the harbour and there was a festival of Herrin going on. It turned out to be all the fishing people celebrating their catches and selling them off of the backs of their boats which were made up to look like stalls.  It was all hustle and bustle, and very entertaining.  Helsinki is a mixture of old and new with a lot of Russian influence, but we also found a bit of Turkish. 
The Cathederal

Check out the bug in this amber nodule - just like in Jurassic Park

The market was mad but very friendly

The locals like the food we bought for ourselves

These stalls are actually on the back of the fishing boats - look carefully

A plank and a goddess - guess which

Anothe view of the cathederal

We had planned to visit an amusement park which had got a good deal of praise in the brochure, but it was closed. So we did what we do best, found a local pub and had a beer. It was all very pleasant and raised a few eyebrows with the locals.  
A basic bar - the customers were around the corner - note the Russian caps on to of the light box.
Some of the art was wierd. These cows are made from car body parts.

 I forgot to mention that in all of the Scandinavian countries, only beer can be bought in the supermarkets, you have to go to an off licence to buy wines and spirits.  It just so happens that we came across one such shop and got some wine for future nights around the camp fire. I came across one called “Frisky Zebra” and I can confirm that it was quite frisky.

Thursday 6th.
I woke up this morning feeling like I’d been kicked in the head by that frisky little zebra.  However we got ourselves together and headed down to the port to get the ferry.  We needed a couple of bits from the supermarket, and parked up not far from the site.  To get into the supermarket you had to go through a set of automatic doors, unfortunately when we got to them, they didn’t open.  We stood checking opening times, saw we were alright with them and then it starts, two fifty something’s tap dancing on the mat and waving our arms about looking completely demented, furiously trying to find a sensor that just would not react.  Enter stage left a local woman who could not have failed to notice us and as she got close to the doors, they opened. She never batted an eyelid. Red is such a fetching skin tone don’t you think? 
The harbour. Taken whioslt queueing for the ferry. Old and new boats.
Moving on from the supermarket we boarded the ferry for Estonia.  It was absolutely huge, and we grabbed some lunch and then took our books to the bar and sat reading.  
The fort viewed from the sailing ferry - God it was cold and wet.

It is a 2 and a half hour crossing, and where we were there was a dance pavilion.  There were a lot of foot passengers on the boat and they were drinking quite heavily.  Needless to say, off they went into the dance pavilion and were next seen waltzing around the room to a live band.  Where we were we could only see them through a glass partition, and not hear the music, but the best was yet to come.  We both heard an announcement made over the tannoy and just assumed it was some talk about the shop’s opening hours, but no, it was the start of the Karaoke.  You couldn’t make it up.  It was also very painful, a mixture of Abba on speed and folk songs, sung either by a young woman or a really old guy.  The video screen that the words popped up on also came from another world.  It was all very entertaining and if you ever want to visit Estonia, I recommend flying to Helsinki and getting the boat over.          

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