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26 July 2011

Ilosaarirock Festival

Days 56-59: Friday, 15 July 2011 - Monday, 18 July 2011

We left for Ilosaari on Friday. In the morning, Petri and Pekka each had work, so Lisle and I got some much-needed rest, one couch for each of us. We then got up, slowly made some breakfast and tried to figure out the washing machine. In the mid-afternoon, we finally left to get some food and supplies at the nearby supermarket. We were hungry but tight-budgeted, yet we semi-splurged on some waffles at a cafe in the shopping center, which turned out to be some amazing waffles!

The train to Joensuu took about 4 hours with one transfer along the way. I traveled with Petri, Pekka, Sami, and Olli who met us at the station in Joensuu. I was able to use Petri's brother's student ID to get a discount fare. The train was mostly full, so we first rode in the restaurant car for the first leg, and then snuck into some empty seats for the second part, and then we stayed in the "animal/pet room" after transferring to the second train . Along the way, a random older man walks up to us and says "excuse me"… we think something is wrong but he then proceeds to simply ask for one of our beers. Haha.

We arrived in Joensuu, the major city in eastern Finland. We're now only 100 km from Russia, but more importantly, we were a 20-minute walk from the campsite. It was nearly 9pm, and we stopped by the supermarket, where I frantically bought some food right before the store closed. We then walked through the town to the campsite, where we set up our tents.

I was soon introduced to all the friends at our campsite - Ville, Juhanna, Tuomas, Juho, Sami, Mikko, Cole, and even more each day. There was a little boat in a sand pit that we climbed up on. Many more drinks were had, and dancing and craziness ensued.

I woke up in the morning in Sami's tent, as I had planned, but next to Sami and Pekka. I crawled outside and found the gang hanging out at some girls' gazebo thingy. I had a healthy breakfast of sangria. Petri invited me to join him and the guys to go to a friend-of-a-friend (Erko)'s apartment in town. One of the guys (Olli) had mixed a drink of Finnish liquor and brown mints (Fisherman's Friend) to create a peppermint-y drink that we gulped down. At the apartment, which was very nice, we hung out, enjoying the balcony view, sharing jokes and watching funny videos on the flat-screen TV and playing some billiards. Most importantly, we puffed up a couple joints. Some guys showered up before we left, and as we left, I saw that Juhana had taken a souvenir - a potted plant that we named Possi.

Back to the campground, we ran into Petri's brother's girlfriend, and Petri and I joined her for a jaunt to the supermarket for food and supplies. (I had bought a bag full of food, but forgot it at Petri's apartment in Tampere. And by the way, besides beer and liquor, I subsisted for most of the weekend on defrosted frozen pizza, bad hamburgers, and poorly made sandwiches of salami, cheese, and chili mayonnaise.) Petri bribed one of the girlfriend's friends to carry back the drinks for us.

The rest of this afternoon was spent hanging out at the campsite. We were having a lot of fun watching Jupe's crazy antics, as he tried to cartwheel. Lisle found us; she had gone on a bit of adventure with Rikka, finding a guy in a bear costume. I met Sana (sp?), who was very friendly and was also hanging out with Mikko. We sat cozily in each others arms on top of the sauna bus and could see over the entire campground. I soon wandered about by myself for a bit, peeking through the fence to see some of the bands performing. I returned to find Rikke and Ville hanging out on the boat thingy. In the evening, I hung out with another group of people nearby. They seemed cool and artsy.

The sun eventually went down. I found some other girls to hang out with, totally forgot all their names. But it was fun nonetheless. For the big finale of the night - Seljun Veljet's 20-year reunion performance - there was a set of fireworks exploding into the sky. I don't remember going back to my tent, but I do remember waking up at 5am by the sound of a group of people nearby jamming to an acoustic version of "Brown Eyed Girl." I didn't know why, but I just wanted to join them. I ended up talking with a girl there - Saraa. She works in Helsinki at a hotel or restaurant and speaks English really well.

The third day - Sunday - kept the party going. It had rained over night but soon became warm and sunny. I started off with a swim in the lake with Petri and Olli. Petri was wearing Tommi's shoes. We couldn't decide which part of the lake to go to, but we soon settled on a private beach. When we returned to the shelter and hung out with everyone else I earned the title "Worst American Ever". It was cramped but comfortable. Seriously, I feel so comfortable here in Finland. Anyway, Ville made everyone a little label written on masking tape.

I ended up finding another group of cool people at the next campground. There were two girls named Johanna (actually three but I only hung out with these two). We hung out for most of the afternoon and into the evening. I returned to our camp several times, saying hi to the guys and seeing who was around. Some people had managed to sneak tickets to the main festival grounds, mainly to see Aphex Twin, one of the few bands I was familiar with. (It was easy to get tickets from people who had to leave early on Sunday. Everyone was having a great time.

Anyway, there were more girls that I met, and we talked about whatever came to mind. The Johannas mentioned that they had discovered an Angelina Jolie look-alike, about 16 years old, when they went to the bathroom. So later in the evening, I joined Johanna for an adventure to find said Angelina. Our adventure turned out fruitless, but we ended up talking to a lot of random people whom we just approached and ended up sharing beers with.

The final day dawned, and we had to head back. So upon waking up I only had a bit of time to wash up before packing up my stuff and rolling up Sami's tent. Our ride, Cole, was to pick up me, Petri, and Pekka a few blocks away. So there we walked and we crammed our stuff into his small golden-brownish Opel or Peugeot or something that started with an A (I clearly haven't learned my European car brands well enough).

We drove back to Tampere, stopping first for gas and food at an ABC service station. There were many other cars that we passed that obviously were also leaving the festival.

I felt kinda bad, because I slept for much of the drive back. The sun was just so warm, my body just tired, and the Finnish conversation was obviously not something that could keep my attention for long. It was a 4-hour drive, too. We snacked on grapes and arrived at the apartment around 3 or 4pm.

Lisle arrived much later, around 9pm. She had apparently wandered off or something, because her ride called Petri and told us to tell her to come back to their apartment so that they could all leave Joensuu. We ended up staying in the apartment and chilling yet again. Petri had bought Thai food (green chili), while I opted to finish my festival food and make some more cheap sandwiches.

But what an amazing and fun weekend! I'm actually surprised how peaceful it all was. With that level of boozing in the US, I'd expect at least one fight or some trouble.

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