Midnight on the train.

Helsinki Travel Blog

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Taking the boat tour around the Gulf of Finland.
Right now I am relaxing in my bed on a train from Helsinki to a town in Lapland. I'm pretty disappointed because we were told that the train would have Internet connections for us to use. I suppose they meant power plug ins, because there is certainly no internet to be found. I'd just like to check my ebay auctions and post a bit since I know someone is looking for me.

Kissou's son Yari won his soccer game this morning and got into the finals. They played Brazil tonight, I hope they won that too. Now that has to be one of the more exciting things in this world. To be playing in the finals of an international competion, especially at his age.
Spencer at dinner.
Heck I had fun watching the college soccer games around here, and playing for intramural was great until I started having asthma attacks :-P. Especially at the age of 15. When I was 15 I certainly wasn't internationally good at anything but being a brat.

I think that at the high level he is playing at, luck and timing have a lot to do with success. Everyone has the best players, from all over the world. They've all trained their entire lives for this event. They practice every move until it is perfect, they are at their peak fitness, and they go in with expectations high. The games are almost all into overtime, penalty shots. Who was too excited and only slept for three hours? Who has a spot of jet lag? Who didn't eat as much as he should have? The game comes. The first 25 minute half is more relaxed.
The marketplace in Helsinki near the water - my favorite!
These boys know that they have another half to run themselves out, to  try their hardest, and either win or lose. Succeed for fail. That second half is when it gets intense. As the time ticks down and the score reads 0-0, they are desperate to score! Desperate to win! And in their desperation, or their tiredness, or because they're feeling weak, they slip a little bit. Or the timing is off. A milisecond too late, and the ball gets through the hole. A bit too rough, and here comes the penalty shot. Timing and Luck.

This morning I woke up at 4 (bleh), then finally woke up at the right time. After the morning 'activities' (har har), we left at 1 pm to go eat lunch and go on a boat tour of Helsinki. The boat tour was nice, but it was very expensive. It also started raining halfway through, so we had to go inside.
A view of the Summoliona fortress.
Of course there were 3 loud, obnoxious, drunk men, so from then on we couldn't hear the commentary. It was nice to get a view all around Helsinki's archipelago, however. We saw the sea fortress of Summoliona, some of the huge icebreakers (ramming boats that clear the ice), the yard where they build cruise ships, and the beautiful rocky cliffs and shore line.

I learned that: Finland became a country in 1917. It is less than 90 years old! There is no tide in Helsinki because of the unique geography of the archipelago. The sea water also has almost no salt content. Therefore shrimp and mussels do not live nearby and have to be gotten further out. The lack of salt also means that the entire water around the city freezes in the winter. People drive on the ice to wheverer they need to go, and at one local sauna they cut a hole in the ice for people to go swimming in. Sounds cold to me, lol. They also told us a lot of other little facts, but those stick out in my mind. The Summoliona fortress has a church that also has a working lighthouse in the steeple. It's one of only three church/lighthouses in the world.

The tour was alright but around 18 eruo a person. I wouldn't do it again if I was paying for it, luckilly I wasn't paying this time, haha.

After our tour we meandered through an indoor market that was built in the 1870s. We got some wonderful pastries, we looked at all the unique Finnish food and gifts, and also bought some weird things to try like orange fudge. Yes, fudge that is orange color and actually tastes like oranges....I'm not a big fan. Fins make awesome chocolate, but they also eat a lot of licorice and other gross stuff. One booth had smoked 'delicacy' meats. They had Reindeer jerky, and a big log of reindeer meat and also bear meat and lamb meat. The reindeer meat was 20 ero for 1 kg, and the bear was 100 euro!!! Sheesh! I don't think that bear is worth that much to me, haha. We will probably have more reindeer meat up in Lapland this weekend.

For lunch we went back to Stockmann, that huge department store, and I saw again how truly many things they have. It's around 10 floors. Today I saw some clothing departments, a full restaurant, a cafe, an electronics floor that had everything that Best Buy would have, and a fabric/home/decor floor worthy of Linens and Things/Joann's. No matter where you go though food is expensive, and I know that my meal alone (rosemary beeksteak with sides and water) was around 14 euro. My 'dinner' of two snacks on the train cost 6 euro.

We packed up some things and confirmed information for our side trip. The train left at 7:20 with all of us on it. They must have paid for 1st class sleeper cars judging from the rest of the train. We have two person cabins that are nice and new, smell like they just came from the factory. Each of us has a little bathroom with a toilet, sink, and shower. To access the shower you pull part of the wall out, which covers up the toilet and exposes the water and drain. It's hard to explain, small, and very cool. This is most of our first times on a train, and it's my first time other than the train in Germany, a longer train in Germany when I was little, and the few subways I've been on. We had the option of taking a train or flying, as they were about the same price, but the train seemed so much more fun. It's also a way to waste a little bit more time, since after all, there is only so many 'new' or 'touristy' things to do in Helsinki.

The train has one dining car, one bike/luggage/storage car, a car where you can go with pets (two adorable mineature pinschers were in there, one could not stop licking me!), and a lot of passenger cars. What must be the cheaper cars are quite a bit older. They only have a sink in their room, and some of them have three bunks. Our train car is two stories, but all the older ones are only one story. The dining car is open until  am, and when I was there about 12:30 people were still getting beers and having a jolly ole time. There is a little panel next to the head of the bed that has a clock, radio, alarm clock, and reading lamp.

Guess I'm gong to try to sleep now! It's 2 am outside, but it's still bright like dusk is.
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Taking the boat tour around the Gu…
Taking the boat tour around the G…
Spencer at dinner.
Spencer at dinner.
The marketplace in Helsinki near t…
The marketplace in Helsinki near …
A view of the Summoliona fortress.
A view of the Summoliona fortress.
photo by: portia