Friday, September 11, 2009

Less sun; Less grumpy

Alright – :my “first day in the country grumpiness” has left me, and I'm not ready to full enjoy all that Helsinki has for me. For the most part this will be the church carved into the rock. I have no idea what to expect from it, only that it's apparently a true sight to be seen.

And apparently the common room does get some traffic here – even if very little. I ended up chatting with a German for a good time about this that, and the other – he pointed me towards the church, explaining that it truly was a sight to be seen. And a Columbian, here to work on his PHD convinced me to check out the fortress island (though I do not know much more about that just yet.) While the common rooms may lock for “silent hours” at 11:00pm here at the EuroHostel, there is a trick – if one person remains inside, they can open it for any and all newcomers.

Off to face the world then. Free wi-fi may have failed me at the park, but I hear there's a mall around offering much the same. Maybe they'll have a 1euro shop too?

It did not – but we'll get there, in time. Paragraphs and paragraphs; time and time. Or something to that effect. I'm not really sure, aside from the fact that this was not the restful day I had desired, but in no way hoped for.

Breakfast was held at the market by the pier. Every day numerous tents set up here selling trinkets, souvenirs, handicrafts, and – most importantly – food. I did not pay attention to the offerings when I passed by yesterday, but giving a wiser eye to the signs, I noticed that my desired reindeer was on the menu. I'm sorry Rudolph, but it's time for you to join the puffin, the whale, and all the rest in the zoo in my belly.

Served in a small pan, with potatoes, pickles, blueberry sauce, and fried onions it looked like not a lot of food. I thought that I would be hungry immediately following my rapid consuming. Halfway through the magical flying quadrupeds (all reindeer can fly, you understand, that's why they have their legs clipped at zoos. So they don't fly away.) and its vegetable companions I found myself having to force every following bite. Delicious, indeed – and also quite filling. A perfect meal of the day.

From the market I headed to the mall, halfway across the city. This was to be my big mission of the day. Disappointment doesn't begin to describe it. It's all clothing shops, and skateboard shops, and shops to by clothes for skateboarding. There were no dollar stores offering my discounted foods or drink, and the free internet was part of an overpriced cafe on the fifth floor. For those who do like shopping though, I'm sure that this would be a great venue. There are a number of shops, and the basement is part of a transit terminal offering all number of restaurants for the hungry businessman and over-encumbered consumer alike.

Once more, I set out into the day. This time finding myself strolling down different streets than yesterday, and wondering just how I had missed the inconceivable amount of record shops, music stores, rock shops, and other head banging related venues. In twenty minutes I must have passed at least three of each. Tattoo parlors? Also as numerable – though where they were yesterday? I haven't the faintest. Certainly not here. That would just be crazy.

As I neared the granite church I sighed the sigh of all foot-based tourists. I had reached the destination just in time for, not one – not two – not three – but four tour buses to pull up and ruin the view. Out from each a gaggle of Finns, Asians, or north Americas. All at once the serene moment exploded into cacophony of people asking for photos taken, stumbling bumbling apologies as elbows were bumped and eyes glanced anywhere but ahead. And as they finally left, another tour bus pulled up. During the transition, I saw my chance for a clean photo, took it, and then left.

It's an interesting place, I'll give it that – one of the most keen churches I've ever seen – but when someone tels you it's carved out of rock you start to imagine Petra, and that it was not. Still – I'm glad to have seen it, if only to not regret having missed it. That, and the gift shop there was able to sell me a Finland sticker to affix to my laptop.

On the far west side of Helsinki there is a cemetery. It's located right along side the ocean, and it might just be one of the most beautiful walks one can take in the city. Strolling through rows and rows of tombstones, you are overcome by the variety of flowers, and the various statues adorning certain sites. It seems about one percent of the stones has a beautiful, well crafted, statue adding to the variety and splendor of the stroll. And then, just like that you're off to the beach, striding across sand, looking out at the horizon, and the power lines, which manage to come across artistic, rather than gaudy. From the beach, you can see the cemetery where, high above on the cliff, mourners and lecherous onlookers can watch the bathers, as they throw themselves again and again into the waves.

And this is where my day was set to end. This was my last planned journey, however Helsinki holds many secrets, and it seems that I would not be let, so easily, to rest. First – I discovered a free open network accessible from a bench just to the west of the Central Station. There I was able to get up to date, and finally reply to emails which, after only two days, have been piling up. I worry about what will happen when I'm in Antarctica for two weeks, completely off the grid.

As I was on this bench, minding my own business, typing away – facing a building no more than ten meters away, you understand – a car whizzed by me, startling me and pulling me back to my corporeal surroundings. Shaken I looked around, no one was giving a second look. Five minutes later this happened again. No come on, Finland, this can't be right. I get it, I'm bound to be hit by a bike or two, as they feel the sidewalks are theirs and that pedestrians are nothing more than a slow moving nuisance, but these cars – really? I watched as they drove off the sidewalk, over a zebra crossing, only then joining the road. There is no way this is alright – but, once again, no one gave it a second look.

Internet, internetted, I returned to my walk back to the hostel – being pulled away once more by the sounds of bass thumping music, and a crowd gathering on the side street. It seems that a clothing store had decided to put on an impromptu fashion show, out into the middle of the street, for people to come and watch. The models were the store employees, doing their very best, and succeeding quite well, except for the half hearted smirk on their faces.

But not even this could fully hold my attention, for the frosh were back – and this time, they had beers. Where there are frosh, and alcohol, there is almost always nudity. Ergo, I was not surprised when some of them jumped into the main fountain by the docks, shedding most of their clothing as they went – or all in one poor souls case. Luckily his friends were there to collect it for him – and then toss it high atop the sculptures head, forever out of reach. Once out of the pond, girls hooding wrapped around himself, he drunkenly continued on his quest – whatever that might be, underwear flapping with the passing breeze.

There was also a man with a box on his head, looking on. I don't know. I really don't.

1 comment:

  1. It's Doom's cousin. Hahahaha! So good to take the time to read this. When your adventures are through this is such a great capsule for your memory.

    i want to go around the world. Wahhhhhhhhhhh! :)

    Keep on shooting and typing! Great pics and details, guy!

    Next question - are you finding a karaoke song for Europe, at least? (I can see that a song in EVERY city may be unreasonable - but start working on that!)


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