Hei hei from Finland. I'm in Rovaniemi
, Finland, this morning. Ben and I arrived here yesterday morning after taking an overnight train from Helsinki. BTW, the Helstinky Train Station is not terribly accommodating to travellers. There's no place to sit down while waiting for your train. No place at all. And you have to pay one euro to use the bathroom. Boo. However, the train was great. We splurged a little and got a sleeper car--definitely worth the extra 22 euros each. It was a lovely way to spend my birthday eve. When we arrived in Rovaniemi, it was my birthday! To celebrate, Ben and I had a traditional Lappish lunch (my dish had something with fish heads in it, Ben's was something like potatoes, sausage and tomatoes), then we went to Arctic Circle to meet Santa Claus
Off to Sweden today to make our way down the country and over to Norway. It should be a little warmer down there. It's pretty chilly where we are now--a high of around 60 degrees.
Ben and I arrived in Tallinn yesterday afternoon via the ferry from Helsinki. We were pleased to encounter locals who were a bit more chatty than the reserved Finns. However, we were a bit put off by the pro-Hitler T-shirts and Nazi items for sale in several places around town. Oh well, when we see those, we know that's a good sign for us to turn around and leave that store.
The old part of Tallinn definitely lives up to the hype. The curving cobblestone streets and medieval buildings look like illustrations from a fairy tale. We found a very reasonable hostel just off the town square. It's a little noisy, but at least not as bad as the hostel that is located beneath a strip club. Everything is very cheap here, so we're happy to take relax our budgets a little bit. Plus, Ben won 200 crowns in video poker last night! We're gonna eat in style tonight
Uppsala, Stockholm, Helsinki
I wrote a nice post about Uppsala, Sweden, a couple of days ago, but stupid Blogger couldn't load it at the time. The short of it was that Uppsala was a lovely alternative to Stockholm. A nice university town instead of a major busy city. We stayed in a great hostel that was converted from a manor house in the 1960s. Toured the cathedral and castle there, then headed to Stockholm. We spent just a couple of hours in Stockholm (mainly browsing the various H&Ms). After shopping and eating lunch we walked a very long mile and a half to the ferry terminal. I had no idea what to expect from the ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki. It turned out to be very similar to what I imagine a cruise ship to be like (never been on one). There were bars and restaurants and a disco club. Definitely an interesting ride. We got to Helsinki this morning and spent the day lazing in the esplanade and walking around the city. Most places were closed since it was Sunday, but we certainly enjoyed what we were able to see. We'll be here two nights, then off to Estonia.
I lost track of all the stores I saw in Maine using the cutesy "Mainely" in their titles (i.e., Mainely Clothes, Mainely Auto Parts, Mainely Hypnotherapy). That was pretty much the only thing I found annoying about the state. The points and harbors are lovely and the people are friendly and easy-going. I see why artists and writers flock to the state for inspiration and to get some work done. There are few distractions in Maine.
Working on the farm was lots of fun. Our hosts were lovely people who shared lots of stories from their interesting lives. One is a professional flutist who has lived in several countries. Her daughter is the lead singer of The Charms
. Our other host (and the flutist's husband) is a Danish retired chemical engineer. He's 83 and in far better shape than me. I learned lots about how to start an organic garden and realized how wasteful I am in my daily life in regards to my food consumption. I'm not ready to go totally organic, but I am making more of an effort to eat healthier and waste less.
After a very brief rest in Rockville, Md., I'm heading for Denmark tonight. In a departure from my normal personality, I have done very little planning for this trip. I know where I will start and where my trip will end, but am leaving the middle to do whatever I want to do each day. That strategy worked quite well in Maine, so I'm sticking with it.
For those in the DC area this week, check out bluestate
on Tuesday at Cafe Saint-Ex for Battle Royale 2005.