Some say it should have happened long ago, others that the 4 nights was grossly underweight.
Nevertheless I’ll be out tomorrow and sadly be leaving the “Cool City of the North” for Paris.
Tonight I’m celebrating my pending release with a good dinner in a cool venue eating a creamy crab soup and a medium rare beef steak. My first in 5 weeks or more.
How come? Eating prison breakfast and no lunch means making big saves on the travel budget. (Thanks Kev07, for the extra tax return, I’ll spend it all in a foreign land and save the world economy!)
The steak was a wee bit ordinary, either the steak knife wasn’t sharp enough or the cow was working out a tad too much.
The desert was “to die for” as they say in the classics. Those berries sneak into everything. I’ve never seen or tasted those small round red berries in .au they’re YUM. They’re around every corner here. As is licorice.
However the hot chocolate was something else. Everywhere does things differently and Finns are masters of the different. The left of the centre left, are they.
Here is a hot chocolate of massive proportions! Did I mistakely order a swimming pool? A chocolate hot tub? And another thing, they overdress for dinner! or they don’t go out much. Formal stiffness.
So that’s my final nights’ eating experience in Helsingfors.
The snow stopped coming down last night and gradually through the day all the accumulation that was all over the footpaths melted or got pushed away by workers.
The sun even made a brief appearance low in the southern sky. It made my experience a little easier in that I could get about and even see outside the hood on my jacket.
I went to a glorious place today, a former fort on an island called Suomenlinna. It was a ferry ride from Market Square (the Victoria Market of Helsinki) through the sea ice to the island beautiful buildings and colours I’ve never seen. All set against a blanket of snow. I took a very long way around, through the ramparts and scattered buildings like cafés and churches to a snow covered headland.
There were old cannons mounted there behind the thick walls to protect the town from her enemies and impress her friends and allies.
The colours and hues were stunning. I saw this little frog, black against the snow hopping along bound for god knows where.
Helsinki is famous for music. Just ask the Finn Brothers. Wednesday night I went out to find some. Hard work but I tracked down a jazz place called Storyville. They had a special night with a New Yorker called Gene Taylor. It was good music, I enjoyed it.
Here people start talking to me in Finnish, just asking something or whatever. I must look shocked and then I say, “sorry I don’t speak Finnish, I’m a traveller” then we try to work out some English words.
But I have learned Kippies – Cheers, Salute, Kampie, Chin Chin etc.
The price of a good coffee in Helsinki, €3.80 or $A7.53 so don’t complain about the price in Melbourne, have two. And to the coffee snobs, it’s better kohe here than Melbourne which means anywhere in .au
Beer, very dark in a very big glass
Starters, white fish, smoked salmon, sardines, crispbread, a creamy cheese block
Red Argentinien cab sav
Elk, gamey, rare, tough but tasty. Wild mushroom, tough very tasty. Potato, cooked in half it’s jacket, creamy and YUM
As it should be !&
Trudging through the snow today I decided to take a short cut back to waterfront. Well that didn’t work out.
I took instead a detour of some kms in the opposite direction and then promptly did a circuit of that spot! The snow came down heavier and away I went, lost.
The people I spoke to weren’t fluent in Eigo and my Finnish hasn’t progressed much since yesterday. Anyway lost is always fun and eventually I found an angel in the form of an old man who got me on the right track. I started the long march back.
On the way back I was dreaming of lying in a hot bath and getting the aches out of my weary legs. I’m having hotel delusions at the moment like Frank Zappa’s 200 motels I’ve forgotten what’s what.
It was in Japan the bath, in Finland you get the designer shower! No soothing bath I’d grown used to even in the most modest lodging in Japon.
Of course the Finnish shower comes with a choice of shower heads gushing out gallons of water per second. It would make any Australian cringe but this country is two fifths fresh water not counting today’s snow so somehow it doesn’t matter.
Japan is like that too. Loads of the stuff running everwhere into baths and onsens.
That reminds me about Chiiori where Paul told me that in winter they have leave some of the taps running otherwise the pipes freeze up. Then along come the Australians who sometimes stay there. They turn the taps off. Can’t help themselves, gotta save water but wreck the plumbing. Horses for courses.
Tonight I decided to head out to try some local tucker. This time I really consulted the map. I new exactly where I was heading and how to get back, consulted the Lonely Planet and put all the thermals on.
“Finnish Food ” the sign said across the way from the little mermaid statue. So in I went with no Finnish and a hungry stomach.
To be continued.
I just heard my first Finnish spoken! I’m at the departure lounge at Narita and they called the passengers in Finnish. Very nice it sounded. Didn’t understand a thing but I’ve had a month of understanding almost nothing, so situation normal.
The Finnish cabin crew and pilots aren’t prancing about looking to be movie stars, they seem just straight forward and helpful. Everyday people who work on planes flying.
The lunch was chicken in a white mushroom sauce with salada. White wine from South Africa, coffee and chocolate cake. A white bread sandwich later and more kohe.
There’s not much to see, clouds and Russia below and eventually the arctic sea ice if there’s any left these days.
On the flight map we seem to fly a long way north and then sweep down to Helsinki. Maybe Russian airspace isn’t open to FINNAIR.
Wow the landing at Helsinki was unbelievable the city is blanketed in snow and snow ploughs cleared the runway just before the plane came in.
Took a taxi from the airport, couldn’t believe how the cars hurdle along in the snow and driving left hand. The harbour was frozen over too. After checking into hotel went for a long walk into the city. Double Wowy !!
Couldn’t believe the snow falling, people trudging through it and along comes a mother and child. She is walking down the street towing a sled with her 3-4 year old on board.
Not in Australia!
“Ladies and Gentlemen you are on the Narita Express bound for Narita Airport……………”
So says the announcement. Now I’m leaving Japan till next time.
I’m a little nervous leaving here for unfamiliar Europe. I’ve always felt at home in Japan and it’s safe and inviting.
I took the shinkensen up from Okayama and the highlight was seeing the Fuji-san, snowcapped and above the clouds rising to the heavens.
I spent last night in Tokyo, went up to the top of the Metro Building watching the sun set and the evening lights of the city come on. The blinking red safety lights are so eerie. It looked wonderful though.
Then I went over to the Apple store to check some email, download updates on my iPhone and check out storage devices. Then a last Japanese dinner in Ginza before heading back to the hotel.
Monday Feb 9 11:00 pm.
I’m airborn now. This morning I checked QANTAS website and bango I got the upgrade to business! Now I’m travelin’ stretch out horizontal seats, gourmet food and stacks of cabin space, night robes and a kit of morning wash stuffy I could get used to riding at the pointy end.
The supper was marinated kingfish with bokchoy and soba. It was fantastic, Japanese style mushrooms in rich light sauce, mmhhh very good. What’s for breakfast you ask?
Tuesday Feb 10 4:24AM
Had the smoked salmon and scrambled
eggs, fruit and yogurt plus a muffin. Kept the strawberry jam for ron.
It’s 5:21AM and the QF21 is decending into Narita. Not sure of my plan yet but I think I better get one soon!
Captain says it’s 2 degrees at Narita with light northerly.