BootsnAll Travel Network


In the morning, the three other guys in the room tell me they were chased out of their original room by a strange smelly guy who was talking to himself. We arrive at about ten am, everyone files out slowly, and I am in Helsinki, a bit tired and disoriented, but none the worse for wear. I walk across town, past a group of homeless gathered in a small park. A fat old hag is trying to undress her ragged and very addled partner. He stumbles and spins in circles as she tries to get his pants off. She punches him in the head, and he reels, then falls on the ground. This enrages her further, she runs around screaming and waving, then runs up and kicks him square in the face. I want to move to intervene, but feel helpless. She seems to settle down a bit as he lies motionless. Such a world we live in. I trudge north, it is a long walk to the Olympic stadium, where the hostel is. I find it with little problem, check in and dump my stuff. I grab a shower, then chat with a pretty German girl in the common room, along with a guy in his sixties from North Carolina who is going to try to ride his motorcycle clear across Siberia to Vladivostok. I tell him I will be satisfied if they just let me into the country. I walk back into town, see the rock church and the Senate building, then head down to the water. There are stands everywhere, selling trinkets and jewelry and food. Near the food stands, the seagulls hover everywhere, ready to strike. They are very aggressive, the customers have to cover their food as they walk away or the birds will pounce on it, and if the girl working the stall isn’t vigilant they come right down and snatch the goodies straight out of the cauldron. She spends half her time attending to customers and half waving an arm or a foot to shoo them away. Off to the side sitting on a wall, a seagull laughs raucously at the whole spectacle, cackling most human-like. I walk down to a park along the water to the south and lie down for a while, then come back up to catch a tour of Suomenlinna Fortress, which sits on an island nearby. The ferry zips us across, I explore a bit then wander over to another outlying island (via bridge), scramble through the rocks and sit down by the water’s edge for a while, relaxing. It occurs to me how odd it is to be sitting on a small island off the coast of Finland, watching the sun go down like this. I savor the moment. After the return ferry, I hike back up to the hostel, stopping for a sandwich and a beer along the way. Drivers in Europe are very courteous towards pedestrians – if you are in a crosswalk they almost always slow down or stop to let you cross. If you try that in New York city, they will aim for you and earn an extra fifty points if they nail you. Sit with a crowd at the hostel and watch the World Cup final, Italy wins the prize. Zidane, the French star, headbutts a guy in the chest and gets ejected, quite amusing. A group of Italians in the room boisterously celebrate the victory as I head for bed.

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