Cruising Back Home

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Who Needs Russia
With Christmas a distant memory, we headed for Helsinki on Boxing Day, though we were even more tired than before for the most part. I think the average sleep was about 3 hours, and I was below that. Even pancakes and gnutella couldn't bring us back from the dead. Helsinki, for its part, was awesome. It's an absolutely gorgeous city, parts of it modelled after St. Petersburg, but all of it with its own charm - definitely my favourite of the Scandinavian capitals. It also, by vote from both men and women, took the contest for Most Attractive Locals. Amazing considering the competition!

Church Built Into the Rock
We took a little bit of a tour today, seeing Upenski Cathedral, Church of the Rock (a very impressive church built right into the stone, with a ceiling made of 32 km of copper strips), Senate Square, and so on. Catherine & I strolled through the city and found the famous hot chocolate man, whom we've decided has earned his right to be famous. Then a stroll to Upenski, the harbour, the market (where we picked up some wild strawberries and a few Finnish peas), and ran quickly through Nordstan, a famous department store.

Dinner in Memphis
This was to be our last night with the folks departing for Russia, so we went out for dinner at Armadillo, which was reputed to have some tasty dinner. Unfortunately, we didn't book ahead, so we split ways for dinner. I talked to the staff there and they recommended another restaurant down the street with equally good food, called Memphis. I wasn't keen on the name, but about 20 of us went over there and discovered that it was quite tasty. I had a steak, which I'd been craving again (at the moment, I'm craving a cinnamon bun like crazy) and everyones' meals seemed quite good. Some even went back for lunch the next day.

Farewell Party
Despite the split, we did all meet (or, given the context, maybe that should be 'meat') up at a pub at 9:00 for drinks and goodbyes. It was a little sad to say bye, but c'est la vie. We walked back to the hostel much later that evening and I'm sad to say that I got us slightly lost, though I credit a large part of that to my own foolishness in asking a drunken Chad for directions instead of a sober one earlier in the evening. The rooms were saunas, and not much sleep would be had tonight.

Goodbye to the Russkies
In spite of sleeping in a steam room, I still managed to wake up and get outside to say a final goodbye to the Russkies the next morning, even though it was just in pajamas and sandals. Goodbyes aren't much fun, I should tell you, but I was determined to do my best. I meant to make the most of Helsinki by exploring that morning, but fell back asleep by accident until almost noon. So I grabbed a bite in town, strolled around, sat in the park, and then made my way back in time to catch the Love Boat.

On the Love Boat...
Ah, the Love Boat. There's not much I can tell you about it other than it's an overnight ferry to Helsinki from Stockholm, but is more like a cruise/party ship. And that's what we did. We sat on the deck in the sun, watching the islands of Helsinki drift by, with buckets of Smirnoff in front of us. We ate an all you can eat/drink buffet which culminated in me becoming general (ask when I get home) and Sean receiving a little pink in the hair, and then went to the disco to party the evening away. Gord & I hung out mostly, and man was he hilariously toasted. Like, let's chat up these two girls who are FAR too young, toasted. Like, walking outside, past the WC, turning the corner, leaning against the ferry wall with one hand, and taking a nice whiz in the rather public walkway toasted. So, it was good times. I didn't have to deal with a stalker (Juaquin), losing a dance off (Chad), or entering a karaoke contest (Anita).

Final Dinner at Rosie McGees
Chad did his best to keep the party going on the bus once we got off, but given our lack of sleep, it maybe lasted an hour. There was front-of-the-bus chit chat, impressions, microphone passing, and so on. Soon, everyone was making the best of our friends' departure... two seats for sleepery. Getting back to Copenhagen was nice, sort of a return to where we came from, older, wiser, and more sleep deprived than ever. We all went for dinner to Rosie McGee's, which was an Amigos style place (down to the Mexicana and live music) and pretty decent all said. The boys were presented with gifts and poems, and the rest of us with heaps of food, and then back to the camp for most of us for a final farewell party that never really got off the ground. I wound up finally talking to Andrea a little and going through all our collective photos, it's too bad that you talk to some people and not others, but it's a necessity on a 20 day trip, I guess.

Chad is determined to keep on partying
The morning breakfast was our final farewell for many more of these people, but they will always live on... in their respective countries. Where they will be victims of ceaseless emails and, when the technology is developed, smellograms. I had some doubts going into this Contiki trip, but all of them turned out to be unfounded. I was with 45 great people, had a great time, don't really regret missing Roskilde anymore, and saw some things I likely would've missed on my own. Thanks to all, especially Chadster, Seanovan, and Michelle for making it a great time. Now, back to our regularly scheduled European adventure.

<Helsinki Photos>
<Love Boat/Farewell Photos>


Anonymous said...

I signed on to your website in hopes of finding a little bit of information about the Scandanavia/Russia trip that Contiki does - and found a whole lot more. Your site is fantastic!!! It sounds and looks like you had a blast and you have definitely convinced me to go. I am planning on taking my trip in the summer of '06 (end of June and all of July), so it will be right around the time you went this past summer. You are a terrific writer and your log entries are great!

Thanks for the insight.
Ryan (Girl from the US)

P.S. If you'd like to email me back with more info or stories you can reach me at Thanks again!

Dean said...

Thanks for reading, I'll definitely give you a shout. Hope you enjoy your trip!