2 Oct 2007


Posted by walterheck

The following morning Yoav had to go to university and we took our time to get up and pack our stuff. It was only roughly 200Km to Helsinki, so we had some time.

We went to a spot that Yoav recommended to us and started hitchhiking. We had a lot of fun and I realized that even though I like traveling alone, traveling together every once in a while can also be a lot of fun. Especially when the other person is a dear friend 😉

We waited for 40 minutes before a car stopped. The driver was Miiko, a finnish guy that ran a company that organized tours for mostly students into Russia. I was very happy to meet him as I was a little insecure and maybe even a bit scared about my upcoming trip into Russia. As he had been there hundreds of times and had rescued tourists out of all kinds of situations it was very interesting to talk to him.

Miiko said that he could give us a ride to a town about 25 Km outside of Tampere, but that he would be driving to Helsinki later on in the day. Awesome! He dropped us off at what was supposedly the biggest shopping mall in Finland (which by the way happened to be in the middle of nowhere). We exchanged phone numbers and he said he would send us a message in a couple of hours when he was ready. This would be a good place to spend some time.

Even though he was extremely nice and offered us to leave the bags in his car, we took them out with us. You never know how plans might change. The other reason, being trust, is not really an issue in this country, however stupid that may sound. We put the bags in a shopping cart and started exploring the mall. With that shopping cart we looked like your average neighbourhood bums, except there are almost no bums in Finland, so it was no problem 🙂

We walked around a bit and found some massage chairs in one of the small squares in the mall. We sat down, Duke grabbed his laptop and I of course fell asleep after 5 minutes. I was woken up by a security guard that told me that I was not supposed to sleep in a shopping mall. Duke was laughing and later he told me that the security guard had walked by at least 4 times before finally saying anything. Apparently she was not used to actual civilian interaction and she had to lookup what to do in her security guard handbook first 🙂

We decided to grab something to eat, but just as we reached a place to eat, I received a message from Miiko that he was on his way back to the mall. We went outside and waited for him to pick us up again. A little later we were on our way to Helsinki city center, yay!

I talked a lot with Miiko who had some interesting stories about the many trips into Russia he had made. In the meanwhile Duke was sleeping in the back (wait a second, shouldn’t this be the other way around?). I felt a lot more confident about heading into Russia alone after talking to Miiko, although it did become apparent to me that we needed to find a secondhand clothes shop so I wouldn’t stand out so much in a country like Russia.

Miiko dropped us off in the middle of the city center, a few blocks away from central station. Duke and I were hungry and Duke knew the perfect solution: golden rax pizza buffet. This place is like a buffet you can get in a dutch Chinese restaurant, only for Italian food. For 7,99€ you can eat and drink until you literally fall over.

We sent Daniel, our host and the other city ambassador for Helsinki besides Tiina, a message where we were and he came and picked us up. We took a bus to his place (this time we did pay attention as to where we were going 😉 ).

Duek and me didn’t need to have more dinner as we’d stuffed our faces in the golden rax place. Instead we got settled, got to know our host Daniel a bit more and finally decided to watch one of the dutch movies I have with me on my laptop. “Van god los” is quite a shocking film especially when you think about the fact that it is loosely based on a true story.

After the movie, Daniel wentr to bed and I fell asleep soon after. Niughtcreature Duke however stayed up late (without bothering anyone 😉 ).

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2 Responses to “Hellsinki”

  1. Ah, Golden Rax Pizza Buffet, last time I ate there with the guys from Don Bosco, we must have spend over three hours there. We saw the entire place change customers for three times before we left. I swear they made no profit that day. One of the happiest days of my life man… Did you try the potato quiche? It’s really good!




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