Saturday, September 12, 2009

Night into Day

So, as it turns out, once you get to know someone, they're not really all that bad, are they? I had written an entirely different opening to this post, but after the last hour and a half I don't really feel that I should put it up. How about I just summarize it for you? A middle aged man was being – overly kind – to some Japanese girls, who, with awkward giggles and practiced shyness, avoided his advancements. There, the end. That's all.

Today was a laid back day. It wasn't the completely lazy day I had hoped for, though. I had to make my way down to central station to use the internet, and that was a few kilometers away. Around noon o'clock I started started out, entering, for the first time, the large church that I passed day after day. With its large red bricks, green roofs, and golden spires I had admired it from afar, but never taken the time required to simply step inside. Clearly I've been lazy. While it may not be carved out of rock, or have a skylight filling the room with His everlasting grace (or some other such thing) it was a remarkable building. It held some pretty peachy paintings, and a chandelier that captivated the attention of all those who stepped through the arch.

Removing my had, I crossed the threshold – this is a custom that I've never quite understood, and one that – looking at the tourists from today's cruise ship – often finds itself neglected. At least this church allowed photography, provided your flash was turned off. I understand that there may be some special significance about a church – but a building is a building is a building. If camera crews are allowed to come through for televised documentaries, surely there can be no harm in a quick picture or two.

And then I was off to the grocery store, located ever so close to the hostel. Day after day I had missed this nourishing oasis because of my desire to walk close to the water, rather than taking the most direct route. I bought some – what appeared to be ham and potato salad - unleavened bread, to eat it with (thank you Indian and Ethiopian restaurants for teaching me this trick), and a liter of orange juice. My body thanks me for the vitamin C boost, I'm sure. No scurvy here.

Somehow it sees that I am managing to stick to my 10CAD a day food budget, even here in the most expensive parts of Europe. We will see what Paris has to say about that, a few weeks from now. But I warn you Paris, I'm hip to the bread stick and cheese tricks that allow for so many students to walk away with full and happy tummies on a dime.

Back at the west side of central station, I connected to another wireless network. A good rule of thumb is if you can see the big Posti building, just find yourself a seat and all should be right and well in the world. After all, it has worked for me so far.

Sitting there on a bench outside a shopping plaza I was able to upload some videos to my youtube account. If you've only been watching the embedded videos, you'll not have noticed much, but if you go to the youtube page directly, you may start to see a project, of sorts, coming together. After checking my virtual farm, which I can't believe I'm still running, and seeing that the crops won't be ready to harvest until tomorrow, I packed up my bag and began heading home. This was to be the end of my day – of course it didn't play out that way.

On the street, I bumped into a Cuban I had met at the hostel. He had informed me that despite all appearances the people there are not happy, as they lack the one thing we all desire – freedom. So if you're ever in Cuba, and someone tells you they're happy – you look them right in the eye, and call them a liar. What could possibly go wrong?

Today, however, he informed me of a place, not at the next corner, but the one after the next, where I could book a day trip on a ferry to the city of Tallinna, in Estonia. Is there a chance that I will ever, of my own accord, plan a trip to that country? Probably not. But being here, and able to spend five hours there, for only 29euro round trip... how could I resist?

With ticket purchased, I was told that all I would need to do was simply take the 15A bus to the ferry docks tomorrow morning. How hard could that be? Surely I'd figure it out when I needed to.

But no, it is a lucky that that I rarely trust myself. Rather than assuming I know what I'm doing, I contradict my inner voice at every possible occasion. Instead of having it direct me back to the hostel for television, a shower, reading, and then early sleep, I convinced myself to head back to central station and try to make sense of things now.

Central station is a hodgepodge of shenaniginery the likes of which I'd never before seen. There are train tracks, dozens of them, bus terminals for out of city buses, tram stops, and inside? No help desk that I could discover. Instead there were shops, and restaurants, and manga being flung in my face to the squawk of “buy this, buy this” (or something like that – again, I can't speak the language here, and though everyone seems to speak English, no one comes at me with it.)

After much searching I discovered the bus would be waiting at platform 25, tomorrow morning. This is, of course, where I had started my search. Sure. Why not?

Now that I had located where I would board the bus, I had to figure out how to buy tickets. It was explained to me that you could buy them on the bus, without exact fare. I don't know if I trust this. I've never seen a bus that gives change. But it's what I was told, so I'll break some bills, and head in with that assumption. Perhaps some more orange juice would help solve a number of problems.

In theory, I will also need to take tram four from my hostel to the station – but not wanting to deal with anymore than I have to, I figure I'll just wake up extra early and walk. Estonia, here I come! Or will come, tomorrow – or have already come, by the time this is posted. Chronology is so skewed here. I feel like I should find two friends named Marle and Lucca – surely they'd help me resolve this perplexion. Or Glenn. Glenn could help too.

Now – back to the hostel, surely. Except for a brief stop in the park. And then a small stroll around. And then, of course a bench would lure me to its perceived comfort, for reading, and writing, and reminiscing about the day (my last full day in Helsinki, as it turns out.)

Eventually, I'm sure, I returned to the hostel and engaged in a relaxing activity of some sort or the other. I must have.

But if ever questioned about it, I'd never admit to watching “American's Best Dance Crew,” followed by, “Pimp my Ride,” with, “Cribs,” rounding out the trilogy. That, most definately, never happened. And if you say it did - well, I'll just have to sick a happy Cuban on you.

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