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22 July 2011

2 More Days in Helsinki; Hitchhiking to Tampere

Day 54: Wednesday, 13 July 2011

After the previous night's debaucherous fun, it was natural that I slept in. Topi was up earlier to clean up a little, and I said bye as he left for work. I stayed in again for a bit, checking up on emails and deciding whether to go to Tampere this day. I decided to try for a rideshare online, and otherwise I'd wait for my new travelmate to arrive from Russia tomorrow and I'd hitchhike with her.

So I left in the afternoon, walked through the city again, seeing a few parks, jazz music on the esplanade, and the Russian Orthodox church.

I strolled back through the market square and enjoyed some more live jazz music before heading for Koff park, where Topi works, and I helped him and his coworker Christian put away their stuff. We then walked to the nearby park that was formerly a gravesite during the black plague, and met Aaro and few more friends, Niko and (something). Another friend came by and Topi and I walked with him away for a couple blocks before splitting off and searching for cheap food. Topi bought me a €5 salad at a cafe on the top floor of the Kamppi shopping center. I bought some Duff beer at the supermarket - amazing!

We had a quiet night, even thought Wednesday is the party night for young people in Helsinki. We watched a bit more Madventures. Listened to music. Slept.

Day 55: Thursday, 14 July 2011

Today I met my travelmate, Lisle. She arrived in Helsinki early, like 5am, but didn't get my text telling her to come over at 6am to meet Aaro. So I was awoken by her text at 8:30 or so, and I told her to come on over! She was obviously tired, so I let her nap for a few hours. Topi and I enjoyed some music (really, they have a great radio station here - Radio Helsinki - that plays a great mix of reggae, jazz, indie, and old school R&B!) while I did more emails. Topi went to work around noon, and I soon cooked a pizza that I shared with Lisle when she woke up.

We walked around the city, taking a similar route to what I did the day before - climbing atop the church in the rock, walking down the main shopping street Aleksandergatu, peeping into the main library and the cathedral, then through the market square to the orthodox church before returning down the esplanade to Koff park.

It was already nearly 5pm and we had to get going. So I borrowed the keys from Topi and we got Lisle's backpack from the train station, got some snacks at the grocery store. Lisle got to try some salmiakki, which is a very salty Finnish snack, much like salty black licorice!

Then we returned to the apartment, where I packed my stuff, wrote down our destination address, and prepared to hitchhike (made the sign).

We got our stuff together and lugged our things over to Koff park to return Topi's key. I kind of made a wrong turn that made us walk a longer way. So we got there around 7pm, as Topi and Christian were putting things away. We got on the tram together, where we said goodbye.

Lisle and I then made our way nearly all the way to the end of the tram line (trying to memorize the stop names… "Kussi-something" then "Kissu-something" then "Russo-something"… so we'd know where to get off). We walked to the entrance of the highway and simply started sticking our thumbs out and holding our sign.

10 minutes passed, and most cars simply disregarded us or gave us disapproving looks. This didn't seem to be going well. Too early to be discouraged, so we switched places, Lisle now standing in front with the sign. It was about 8:15, and I thought that traffic would start thinning out at this hour. Another 10 minutes passed before a man slowed down right next to Lisle. His car was full of things, but he was willing to give us a ride. Yes!

We had to sit with our bags, crammed in with his stuff in the car. He didn't speak English too fluently, but did speak German, so our conversation switched between English and German the whole way. Our driver was named Raimond or something like that; he looked about 55 years old and was driving to his summer house in Havonlinna, but he was gracious enough to offer to drive us all the way to Tampere! What a nice guy. We arrived around 10pm and Petri's apartment was actually down the block behind the street.

We met Petri and he took us up to his penthouse. Really, on the top floor of a 12-storey building, no neighbors except for 2 saunas, the apartment is nice. We had a chill evening in.

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