Welcome to Finland

Thursday, November 13, 2008

 I woke up around 5 a.m. Thursday morning. We had a 7:17 train ride to catch. The ride was very uneventful but I was very tired and could not get comfortable enough to get any sleep. We spent a long time waiting in Vyborg where we got our passports and visas checked by the Russians and then had to wait again a little later while the Finns checked our passports. We got to Helsinki, Finland around 12:35 after turning our clocks back and hour. We met our tour guide and hopped on a very nice and clean bus (the polar opposite of our bus from Moscow) to take a tour of the city. We stopped at a Lutheran Church that was built into a huge rock, a monument to a famous Finnish composer, the Senate Square, and the only Orthodox Church in the city. After our bus tour we were able to check into our Hostel. This was the first time I’ve ever stayed in a hostel but it was pretty nice. The bed sadly made me miss my IMOP bed however it wasn’t bad. My shower was amazing even though you had to hit a button every 10 seconds to turn the water back on. It was the first time in 3 months that I felt like the water had actually cleaned me and my hair didn’t feel like straw after! After checking in my suitemates and I headed out for a walk in the city to find some food. Since we’ve eaten food from every other country in the world we decided to try to Thai food (hard to find in Russia). It was great. The best part was when two men walked in, turned to us, and said “hello” with a smile. Not only did they smile and say hi to us just to be nice, but they spoke in English! Amazing. We had had a long day so we didn’t feel like doing anything that involved too much walking so we continued on into the city until we found a movie theater. We had been planning for a while to see James Bond in Finland simply because it would be in English. Not only was the ticket lady polite and helpful but she offered to let us pay separately! (unheard of in Russia) After the movie we headed back to get some sleep.

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