The ferry from Stockholm to Turku was a lot bigger than I expected. I was pleasantly surprised to have more personal space in the ferry than in most of the hostels I stayed at. I literally had my own room. Granted, it was $50 even with the Eurail discount.
There were casinos on the ferry. There were thousands, literally thousands of cabins. There were 5 star restaurants. There were 3 night clubs. Who would have thought?
I think I would have been able to take advantage of the ferry more, if I were with a group of friends. I just thought it was a mode of transportation, but indeed was so much more.
It was futuristic cum eerie. It was like being on a spaceship, and it was like being on an early 20th century luxury liner. It was an experience altogether new for me.
I didn’t sleep as early as I should have. I tried to do work. I ended up trying to sleep on the train ride from Turku to Helsinki. When I arrived in Helsinki, I noticed how homogenous it was compared to Sweden and Norway.
I took a bus to the CheapSleep Hostel, which was run by some Asian trekkers, and which was home to many refugees from Iraq and Syria. It looked and smelled a lot like it’s name.
I had a disgusting sandwich and I headed over to the Helsinki Senate Square. There I learned about how much Finland was controlled and influenced by its neighbor Sweden on the west and Russia on the east. Now look at Finland — it’s has around the same GDP per capita of Sweden and 3-4 times the GDP per capita of Russia.
I also visited the church. They had Christian hymns on paper bookmarks in all the world languages. I picked 2 bookmarks. They were beautiful.
The church had excellent lighting, and I spent a lot of time walking up and around it. It was nestled in nature.
I then went to the Kiasma, where I saw gory, anti-establishment modern art. Donald Duck sexualized. Mickey Mouse horny. Truly horrifically perverted shit conjured by some Finnish artists, including a man who stole a Ronald McDonald statue and beheaded it. Some truly grotesque fucked up shit. There were some important political and socioeconomic points made by the art however.
The refugee men were cooking really great omelettes. I requested for one and they made me some. I tried to pay but they didn’t let me — they said it’s not their culture. I repaid them with a dozen eggs instead which they turned into very tasty omelettes for all of us. They also made some chicken but I of course did not eat as I am veg of course.
I met a Filipino girl from Dubai. She said she is in Finland because she was in a relationship with a Finn that ended. We talked in the hostel bedroom and then walked around the hostel for a bit. I think she was intrigued I actually a student from Stanford and not lying. I remember her saying Finns prefer Finns. We went to a Karaoke bar together. She had great appreciation for academia, physics, CERN, Stanford, and such things. I remember making a snarky comment about “people who have tattoos”. I don’t know but I think she had one come to think of it. She would later comment on a facebook pic where I had a tattoo with “ew you have a tattoo”.
She sang quite well. She knew lots of American songs but not very many Finnish ones. Even I sang one song with her — don’t remember the name of it. We had some beers and took a cab back home. That was my first time at a Karaoke bar.
We went back to the hostel and she had trouble finding a bed before her early morning flight. Work-wise, the digital nomad-ing around made it tough. Yes I did manage to do a 3-4 hours of work per day.
The next day I took a ferry to Suomenlemma. A friend’s best friend had gone to school in Finland. I would later mention this island to her. This island had many horror stories. There were a group of physicists getting a private tour and I somehow got to tag along for free. The lady told us about famous Finnish murders and solitary confinement sessions on the island. They took us to haunted rooms and jails. It was quite thrilling. There were a few people from Colorado and Scotland on the ferry back. It was good company.
The next morning I had to get up early and leave for the airport to catch a flight to Prague. I remember noticing a GIANT IKEA on the highway ride there.