May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets’ towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkey’s howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches where storms come and go as lightening clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you---beyond that next turning of the canyon walls. ---Edward Abbey (thanks Trudy Hall)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Helsinki Finland: the land of blond, long-legged, fit and beautiful people

July 19-20
Traveling day starting at 5AM with a crazy ride to the airport. Arrival in Helsinki was pretty easy and we took the local bus for 4 Euro instead of the Finair bus for more.  We got a quick lesson on local transport with a transfer to our area and a map from the driver.  
 Our hostel is what used to be the dormitories for the Olympic athletes of ’52.  They are in fabulous shape with all the use it must get: solid tile, thick linoleum floor, huge windows, pine bunks.  Recycling is easy and clear.  
 I’m in a girls room of 9 that is slightly wedge shaped, looking out on the soccer fields below.  After eating a Hessburger, we strolled down the street and looked at the unusual architecture of the opera house and music hall.  Soon it had been 24 hours since our last sleep and we were ready to crash.  I woke about 11 feeling sick, then again like I should get to the trash can, but woke to another girl saying, “hey, hey.  Are you OK?”  I had fainted (my typical response to getting sick) by the door.  Finally got sick at 1:15, as the dawn was breaking, and felt much better.  Only a few hours of darkness!  So I spent most of the next day dozing until it was time to visit the contact jam in the park.  The contact improvisers have a meeting time and place in this small part of the park.  Les and I walked in circles and saw Tai Chi and martial artists, a juggler, tap dancers, this crazy form that looked like a salsa/swing/circle/contra dance, one guy asking for money for beer, a group of long-legged blond women (who isn’t around here?) doing strength training, a trio of guys playing instruments (guitar, saxophone and percussion) and singing, people playing a game where you throw something that looks more substantial than a rolled up newspaper at several more of the same standing upright on the ground, a young mothers group, and tons of people relaxing in the late sun, jogging or biking.  …but we did not see the dancers of contact.
wait for the walk signal
 It’s wild to see so many blonde, people; in general they use low frequency voices when they speak; and the most different than I’m used to is that even when the street is clear for a mile, they wait at the crosswalk for the green signal for pedestrians.  Are they super obedient?  Not in a hurry?  Will suffer great consequences for j walking?  ‘Tis a mystery.  Watching the big soccer game, eating an avocado and bananas was the topper to the night.  From outside the stadium we watched the Finnish national team squash someone else and listened to the constant chanting, singing and cheering of mostly men at the end of the arena.  The fans continually sang for their team.  Great spirit!

July 21-22-23,
Feeling better, we got our seven-day passes for mass transit (excellent system!) and went to the market.   
The berries were beautiful and I bought a liter of strawberries that tasted sweeter than I remember any tasting.  Les got coffee and a meat pie.  I read that this is one of the best markets in the world!  I think Troy’s would give them good competition.  We went to the downtown area looking for a guidebook and a buckle to replace the one that is breaking on my purse.  We scored on both accounts; I had intense espresso and we walked around until we took the ferry to the fortress just south of town.   
Measurement degrees for cannon
The 15-minute ride was lovely in the heat and wind, and we relaxed by the place where the two islands meet. 

 I could feel a cold coming on.  On the walk around the far island, we climbed inside ramparts, stood behind (and in front of) cannons, and saw the buildings and tomb that were part of this historic site.  On the way home, we stopped to get some roots to boil (something simple, bland, not greasy, yeah), yogurt from a carton you can drink and a couple of bananas.

Yes, the cold did arrive and apparently pseudoephedrine is a prescription drug here.  I have three with me and I bought some nose spray that is supposed to dry things out.  Les and I went on a trolley around town, returned to the market where there was an accordion player who joined the violinist and bass player in some tangos, came back for a nap and went out exploring again—ending up watching a soccer match until 10PM.   
"Flopper" getting up
All the players were black and a local said they were probably the immigrant league playing.  Funny, near the end of the game, folks from the red team kept flopping on the ground.  Maybe a way to get a breather for their teammates?  There are a couple of Argentinians in the new room with us.  One had taken my (lower) bunk, so I asked her if she would switch back, as I was feeling under the weather.  She was great with that, and continued to get ready for the late-night partying.  There’s a heavy metal festival for the next few days here.  There are so many kids (yes children) running around with studs, crazy hair and make-up and lots of layers of black clothing.  It looks like Halloween.  I tried to get on the Internet and it took about 15 minutes to try to email one person.  It never went through.  Maybe tomorrow.
We took trolley 3 around town and enjoyed a huge lunch of squash soup, a pastry with goat cheese and spinach, and coffee.  I lay low, trying to get rid of the cold.  I love listening to the Argentinian women talk in the room.  They are here as journalists to cover the heavy metal bands for their magazine in Buenos Aires.  Also in our room is a couple who met each other going to school at Utah State, where I still have a home in Logan.  Small world!

No comments:

Post a Comment