Thursday, August 24, 2006

The end-times

Well, maybe not. But I'm a bit bummed that today was my last day in Helsinki. I've had a good time, especially in the last few days.
Yesterday I made a rather serendipitous discovery. I had a craving for a turkey sandwich from Subway (I had seen Subway the day before). It's an dd thing to CRAVE, I know, but when these things happen all you can do is obey your stomach. I ended up missing the tram stop because I didn't know exactly where Subway was, so I had to walk about a quarter of a mile to get there. Thank goodness for that quarter-mile. On the way, I passed by this overgrown fench with an open gate that said "Botanical Garden and Natural History Museum." Hmmm - sounds interesting, I thought to myself. After my (delicious) sandwich, having no concrete plans for the afternoon, I wandered back to the little gate. I think in doing so I may have found my favorite place in Helsinki. I can only imagine what this place looks like when all the flowers are in bloom. Even now, with autumn just on the horizon, the gardens are gorgeous - green all around, with all sorts of neat little niches to sit and read or have a picnic. And the glasshouses were awesome. Frog just about flipped out when we walked into the Waterlily Room. My favorite was the African Violet room. All in all, we had a great time wandering about in this little hidden place. I didn't have time to go back today but I really wanted to - I have a feeling it's a good hunting ground for Ents.
Afterwards, being the good little Lutheran girl that I am, I decided to pay a visit to the National Cathedral. It's big and white and stands out pretty distinctly, especially when it's sunny like it was yesterday. They have a really cool organ too. I wish I had know the schedule beforehand - I apparently missed a recital by about an hour. That would have been really awesome.
Having successfully spent a day wandering about the city, I headed back to the hostel with a frozen pizza, the first in two and a half months, since we didn't have an oven at the dorm in St. Petes. It was fantastic - lots of greasy goodness. While I was waiting for my pizza to cook, there was another girl in the kitchen making dinner who was from New Zealand and about a third of the way through a round-the-world adventure by herself. Pretty awesome - I want to do that eventually. We talked to the girl at the front desk and she circled some streets on the map to go for good (and very cheap) local bars, and we had a great time hanging out, wandering to different places around the neighborhood. It was a lot more interesting than just going to the city center, where we would have paid five euros for a beer and been with a bunch of other foreigners. And we could walk home - a plus when the trams stop running at midnight.
This morning was even more relaxing than yesterday. I finally got to sleep in, since I didn't have to go to the Russian Embassy again, and there was no line for the shower when I finally did get out of bed. Woohoo! I feel so clean.
Then I went a rode the elevator up to the top of the Olympic Tower - you can see the whole city from there. At that point the weather was still great - nice and sunny and blue skies. A bit later it got really cloudy and they haven't gone away yet. It just enhances the dreary feeling I have at the moment. I wanted to rent a bike and go riding around in the parks this afternoon, but I didn't want to get caught in the rain, which would have begun right as I started pedaling if my luck hasn't changed. So I just came back and got everything packed and ready to go, so that I can have a nice relaxing evening before leaving for the train station early tomorrow morning. Sigh. Trains. It's a good thing I like them, because we got several days together this week.
If you want to get in touch with me in the coming months, I'll still have my skype account forwarded to my cell, so that's the best way. There is no guarantee that I'll have regular internet access in Irkutsk. I only know of one internet cafe there and they don't have wireless.
Wish me luck.

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