Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fun Times in Finland

I know you're all *dying* to know just exactly what happened in Finland. You haven't been able to eat or sleep wondering what the hell did she actually do there? How did she survive? Was it dark all the time? And how much cheese did she really eat?

You know, like in the old days when you were on the edge of your seat waiting to hear about my next date with The Doctor or Silent But Deadly Boy or (pick a random silly nickname here). Only now you want to hear the blow-by-blow about my travels through a far-flung country you know nothing about. Well here you have the first half of my ABSOLUTELY AMAZING ADVENTURE (TM). Stay tuned for the rest.

Day 1. Arrive in Helsinki to sunny skies. Utilize amazing, easy-to-use transportation system to whisk myself to the city; meet my couchsurfing host #1, Hilkka, who lives in an apartment just outside the city center.Together we have "evening tea:" that is, bread, meat, and lots of cheese. The sun stays out til 10:30.

Day 2. After a breakfast of dark, delicious Finnish bread, meat, and lots of cheese, meet up with my long-lost friend GalPal #1 and family in Helsinki in crisp, clear weather. We stroll the "Esplanadi," where the outdoor cafes are full and summer is in the air. Jet lag hits full force around 3 in the afternoon. Too bad there's still eight more hours of daylight.

Day 3. Fueled by a breakfast of bread, meat, and lots of cheese, do more sightseeing
in sunny Helsinki, including dining at the outdoor market (with the Baltic sea a few feet away), strolling around the "Kauppatori" (fish market), and visiting the quiet neighborhood of Katajanokka Island, the centerpiece of which is an elaborate Russian orthodox church that sits like a giant ocher confection on a hill overlooking the city.

Day 4. A morning meal of bread, meat, and lots of cheese propel me to the train station where I say goodbye to Hilkka and board a train for Turku, the oldest town in Finland. I am very impressed by the high-tech, spacious bathrooms on the train, so unlike the small stinky stalls one finds on Amtrak. As the rather bland scenery speeds by, I am mentally preparing my four day solo bike trek through the wild and wooly "Turku archipelago" with its thousands of islands.

  • Will I be able to navigate all by myself or will I end up living on some remote Finnish island because I get so irrevocably lost I can't make it back?

  • Will there be food to eat besides Baltic herring and (of course) cheese? Will it be as horrible as American food is in out-of-the-way places?

  • What if I get chased by a moose?

Tune in next time to find out about high adventure in the Turku archipelago!