Day 2 – Fortress and football

Helsinki, Finland

Even though yesterday was quite an adventure, for me, today was the real start of USSR Trip 2015.

After checking in at just after midnight last night I thought for sure I’d just hit my pillow and pass out right away.

Ha ha!  Yeah, right!

There were 4 other people in the room and three of them were snoring.

I first tried ear plugs but that didn’t work at all so I went with plan B.

I reached in my bag and grabbed my headphones and popped on some music on my phone.

Now, this wasn’t really a solution as it’s equally hard to fall asleep listening to music but at least it was something nicer to listen to.

Eventually I did drift asleep but I was up pretty early this morning at 7am.

This has been common for all my trips as the excitement of getting out there to explore a new city usually gets me up pretty early.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to crash in a day or two what with the combination of jetlag and lack of sleep but in the meantime I’m just gonna go with the flow and get out there and explore.

But I’m not alone…

My friend Chau who I last saw in Nice, France on my Euro Trip over two years ago was just waking up as I did.

We’ll be travelling together for just over a week through the Baltics.

After getting caught up we headed out in the rain (sigh) downtown towards the waterfront.

There we found Market Square which is a bunch of tents set up selling food and souvenirs.

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We stopped for a quick light breakfast before walking over to the ferry going to the Suomenlinna fortress.

The fortress is located on an island about 15 minutes away from downtown Helsinki.

We arrived just before 11am and it turned out it was perfect timing as the island was virtually tourist free.

Obviously it would have been better without the rain but, hey, when you’re travelling you just kinda gotta go with the flow.

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On the island we went to the Military museum which had a great recollection of the different wars Finland had taken part in the last 100 or so years.

Amazingly, they’ve been involved in several of them – I guess being between Russia and Germany ain’t such a great thing.

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We also took a tour inside a decommissioned submarine and of course took obligatory photos of us straddling cannons (which, ironically enough we also did the day we traveled together to Monaco a couple of years ago).

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After a couple of hours we headed back to the ferry dock to see the mass crowds now arriving.

Whew.  Boy did we plan that right!

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After arriving back on the mainland we took a short walk up to Senate Square and saw the Helsinki Cathedral.

And then it was time for lunch!

Turns out finding a place to get some good ol’ fashioned Scandinavian food ain’t that easy.

We walked around the city for quite awhile but couldn’t find anything outside of fast food or ethnic places.

Finally we decided to just head back to the hostel and ask the desk person for a place to go.

Unfortunately the front desk person on during the afternoon was unpleasant and equally unhelpful as she just simply directed us back to the main street we had just left.

We decided to just buy some groceries and make something here in the hostel but on our way to the grocery store we found a quaint little cafe serving up soups, salads, quiches and sandwiches so we went in there instead.

Great choice.

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I had some grilled chicken with an apple cucumber salad.  After strictly airport and airline food for the last day and a half, it was nice to actually get some healthy food into me.

Our lunch conversation was mostly after Premier League Football as we made plans to watch a soccer game at a sports bar later that night.

I actually learnt how the league is setup and how the matches run out with the standings.  I now feel like I know more about football than 90% of other Canadians.

When does the Canuck season start again?

Anyway…

We headed back to the hostel around 4pm to just relax for a couple hours before heading back out for dinner and the football match.

I checked my email to see if British Airways had emailed me any update about my missing bag but there was no email waiting for me.

It’s now looking unlikely that I’ll be getting my bag today or tomorrow for that matter as we’re taking an afternoon ferry to Estonia.

In fact, British Airways doesn’t even know where I’m staying in Estonia so it may be even longer before I get my bag.

The only real things I’m missing are my electric razor, my camera battery charger and my clothes.

Luckily I still look adorable with my scruffy half beard look.  Also, I had my extra camera battery in my carryon bag which should give me a couple more days of camera usage.

The clothes, on the other hand, are a bit of a worry.

Luckily when we came back to the hostel there was a new (much nicer) girl at the front desk who offered me a couple shirts people had left behind.

They had been washed already and they fit so I took them.

Now I’m up to 3 shirts, 1 pair of sweats and 1 pair of underwear and socks.

When we get to Estonia I’ll probably hit the store and buy some stuff as it’ll be much cheaper than buying replacement clothes here in Helsinki.

Naturally I’ll keep you updated as the great #findingtoddsbag2015 adventure continues.

Anyway, back to the day…

By 6:30 we headed back out to dinner and the second round of “can Todd and Chau find Scandinavian food?”

The answer is: no!

We walked for about a half hour to a restaurant that was listed on the “Finnish restaurants” list in the lobby only to find out that the place wasn’t accepting people as they had a tour group coming in soon.

Son of a bitch!

We proceeded to walk back a different route aimlessly looking for that exclusive Scandinavian meal.

After walking for an hour we finally gave in and ended up eating at a Spanish tapas restaurant just down the street from our hostel.

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At least the tapas were amazing.  I had dishes of pureed codfish with crostinis, prosciutto with melon and nuts, poached egg with bacon, and of sizzling shrimp.

Oh, and sangria of course.

Of course!

At 9:30 we headed over to a sports bar down the street to watch the champions league match of Barcelona and Roma.

There we met up with a German guy who was staying in our room so we all sat there for the next 2 hours watching soccer.

At this point I started crashing hard and kept nodding off.

I did make it to the end of game.  Thank God there’s no overtime in regular season matches.

Around midnight we ended up back at the hostel and literally 10 minutes later I was fast asleep in my room.

Jet lag + Lack of sleep + Walking around all day + Football = Sleepy Todd

And that was day 2!

USSR Trip 2015, Trip Journal

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