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Michael’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 07 Jun 2006

Location: Helsinki (mainly), Finland

MapEntry 36 - Finland (29th May - 2nd June)

Just for your info, the nude video at Nordkapp got pulled from for inappropriate content after 4381 hits and about 5 days on the site! Also, there is a new What The? picture.

Our last day in Norway was a pretty quiet one. Most people looked rather zombie like, and made use of the day by washing clothes for the first time in over a week... Some much longer. In true tight ass bachelor fashion, Clint & I shared a washing machine, but loaded it up too full, and the cakes of detergent didn't dissolve, so one wash became three as we split the load in two and did both again!

The rest of the day was really inconsequential, bar the one event that completed the triple crown - Swimming in the fjord, nuding up at Nordkapp, and finally, taking a dip in the Arctic Ocean.

Man, that was so much worse than the swim at the fjord for a number of reasons. For one, you can see there is scrap metal everywhere, so you have to wear thongs, which prevents you from running in. The slope is less steep, so you take a lot longer to reach a depth to dive in. Oh yeah, it's also much colder. My
body stopped working after I dived and I just stood there trying to get feeling back, then started a long walk back out. Freezing but so worth being able to say I'd done it.

Woke up for another long drive day, with very little, besides scenery and reindeer to occupy us along the way. Our accommodation was in cabins at Rovaniemi, and Clint and I finally ended up on the good side of the accommodation divide, having a room with just the two of us. We were away from the rest of the group again, but not as far as the caravan at Camp Alsnes.

There was a bar at the camping ground, and most people made use of being back in a Euro economy finding ¤4 pints a great deal (wait for Russia, get bottles of vodka for cheaper)! At midnight we all did the happy birthday thing for Megan's 22nd birthday.

The bar closed at about 130am and Megan and I grabbed a couple beers and chatted at river. It was then my guesses were confirmed - both her and Alyshia chasing me. She had apparently told Alyshia that she would step aside leaving Alyshia to have a crack. We then we went to locals cabin with Scott, Alyshia, Jacquie, Andrew, Dawn, Ben and Jeff. The locals fed us vodka and sleazed over the girls until they were out of vodka and we left.

Megan was 'conveniently' locked out of her cabin and I offered her a place to crash in my cabin. Alyshia disappeared with key to my cabin so I woke Clint up at about 330am to get in. The rest is history, sorry Clint! As far as we can figure out, it was the first (and only) action on the tour outside of the couples.

Today was Megan's birthday, and the most awkward morning of the tour by a mile. Said to Simon that it was as if everyone on the tour knew about it before we even woke up. Got many odd looks all morning.

With very little sleep we went to Santa's House. CRAP. Commmercialized dump. No elves or reindeer - and there are reindeer everywhere in the north of Norway & Finland. The place consisted of 6 buildings - one where you sit on Santa's lap for a $40AUD photo, one for the post office, and 4 souvenir shops - and the souvenirs were crap. I was hoping to buy some if they had nice x-mas tree decorations, but it was all crap stuff.

We spent the rest of the day on the second straight long drive to Keuruu, and arrived just before 9pm. This camp was the last of our picturesque camp sites.

We had our last cook up with Jelly (cook) - roast chicken for a Christmas in June dinner. After dinner we gave out our secret Santa presents. Everyone had to buy a gift between ¤5-10. They were all bagged or wrapped and one by one we all selected one from the box. I got a size 52 pair of chicks underwear, a pair of
socks with love hearts on them (neither with tags on em) and a block of chocolate. It was hard to look impressed in that case, and I still don't know who bought it. Would have liked a gift that I could keep, and remind me of Scandi. The clothing was dumped and chocolate eaten. Was pissed at time, but ok with it now, and Simon actually said it was the first time all trip I appeared
embarrassed and speechless, apparently I must have handled myself well in the morning with all of the probing eyes as I headed to the bus.

The following morning we drove to Helsinki and was there in the early afternoon. We did a quick tour on the bus, taking in the Olympic Stadium, the underground church that was set in a rock crater that was blasted open with dynamite, and Sibelius Park dedicated to Finland's greatest composer.

We then had a couple hours to ourselves where we wandered around the city, looking through the shopping centre (girls love to shop, and we love scandi girls!) and found the casino. We tried to get in, but were knocked back because of Clint's track-pants. We had a beer in a beer cafй instead whilst waiting for the bus to hostel.

We did our last washing till we leave Russia, and broke the dryer - we're not having much luck washing clothes!

We went out to the city for our last dinner as a group, and that was a massive cock-up. The place we were going to said they couldn't cater for 50 people, and all other options didn't seem to be happy dealing with 50 people either. We split up in 4 or so groups in order to find places we could all get fed in reasonable time.

After dinner Clint and I went to the casino and played black-jack at 4 euro a hand. It was Clints first time, so I talked him through it. After about 10 hands it went up to 10 euro a hand. Pricey for a first timer. After about 30 min, we were both about even (me +5, and a 2euro chip for souvenir purposes, Clint -10) and we left for the pub. On the way out Clint dropped 40 euro on black and got up!

We met everyone at Bar Hemmingway and proceeded to drink. They opened a BJ table at the pub, and we started playing there with a bunch more first timers. I thought my dreams had come true, gambling tables in a pub. There was one catch, if it is a tie, the dealer wins. The number of times I lost by tying on 20 was enough to drive me crazy and I went through 20 euro at 2 euro a hand pretty quickly.

A few more drinks and people were interested in the casino, so a bunch of us wandered back. Simon had 2 spins on roulette, at 5 euro a pop on number 18, and it came up the second spin! At 33-1 (poor pay-out odds) he walked out up 160 euro in 2 minutes!

A bunch of us played at black jack, and Rob a 1st timer put out 20 euro and on his first hand split 8's against a 10, and hit to two 21's. Dealer pulled an ace for a black jack and took all his money, for a BJ career lasting just one hand. He won 34 euro on the pokies after so was happy enough.

I got cleaned up, and Clint was down, but won ANOTHER 40 euro on black playing roulette on the way out. I checked out the 6 poker tables, 3 playing Texas hold 'em. A 200 euro buy in no-limit game, a 500 euro buy in no-limit game and a 100 euro minimum buy in 5/10 hold 'em game. All too rich for me! At least I still have my chip.

Went back to the pub for more drinks, and people started leaving. Simon, Susan, Megan and I went to leave, and by the time I got out the front Megan was there by herself and the others had bailed.

It was freezing cold outside, and we got lost walking home. Ended up looking in a Finnish Club X type sex shop at about 2am. Those Finnish people are into some kinky (and some plain sick) stuff. We finally got to the hostel at 230am, but were locked out! We waited on the street, figuring out what to do when 15 minutes later, Scott and Nat showed up, after being lost for two hours! Scott pointed out we were at the secondary door and not the front door, which was in fact open. Once inside I chatted with Megan for a couple hours, and made it to bed around 430am.

The following morning the tour split in two, and the Russian part continued on at 730am, with a new group of people. We lost 21, and gained a new 21. Most of the people not continuing on still got up to bid us farewell, most still in their pyjamas, even though they didn't have to be up till 11am.

From this point on, it was a new tour, and Russia would be the highlight of it. Until I get a chance to express how incredible Russia is, hope you are all well.