thoughts of a deviant
  entry created: Wednesday 14 July 2004, 4:51am (NZ time)
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Location:  Märjamaa, Estonia
Local time:  Tuesday, 7:52pm
Music:  Phat beats on CD

Another stamp in my passport. What is it with the human animal and passport stamps? For some reason we seem to love collecting and comparing them.

So I've got another one. This time it's from Finland. Nokia homeland. The ferry trip from Tallinn to Helsinki took only 90 mins on the high-speed power-cat thingee, and cost a mere 400EEK return (about 26 euros).

Helsinki is a fairly typical large modern city (pop. 890,000), but with a lot of history (it was founded back in 1550). It's expensive though, but only really because I've been staying in Estonia for a while now. A cappucino in Helsinki is around 2.50 euros (fairly normal for Europe), but here in Estonia that would almost get you an entire meal. And the Fins seem to have something against the Swedes. Just like the Estonians do with Russians, or Americans with Canadians, or kiwis with Australians.

To be honest it wasn't as exciting as I was expecting (not that I can really explain what I was expecting). It was just another big city. There's pretty cathedrals, lots of pedestrians-only shopping streets, and an efficient public transport system. The two days spent there was enough to see most of the essentials, I thought.

The day after getting back to Estonia, we headed to the largest beer festival of the Nordic countries - Õllesummer, held at the same grounds in Tallinn as the song festival I went to a few weeks ago. It was a bit of a laugh, seeing lots of Estonians (and Fins too, who cross the Gulf for cheap alcohol) getting drunk and listening to traditional (or modern) music, avoiding (and dancing in) the rain, and generally just having a drunken good time. And then the next day a whole group of us headed south to Pärnu to watch the Baltic Sea Cup car racing. It really made me miss my little 4WD turbo sports car that I had in NZ though. *sigh*

So what's next? Well, maybe a trip south to Riga, Latvia's capital. I'll keep you posted.

The Cathedral in Senate Square, built in 1802. One of Helsinki's most recognisable buildings.
And, of course, me, standing on one hand.

The Sibelius monument, dedicated to famous Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.

The Uspenski Cathedral - representing the Byzantine-Russian architectural tradition, and built in 1868.
It's the largest Russian Orthodox church in Western Europe.

Inside the cathedral. The orthodox seem to like lots of glittery gold.

Suomenlinna - a 250-year-old sea fortress built across eight islands off the Helsinki coast.
It's a UNESCO World Heritage site, and has around 850 permanent inhabitants.

Suomenlinna is covered with about 8km of these large stone walls.

The site is surrounded by hundreds of tiny islands (you can see em in the distance) dotting the bay.
An 'archipelago', if you will.

Some of the tiny islands contain tiny houses. At least there's no lawn to mow.

Sunset over the Gulf of Finland. A shot I took on the ferry trip back to Tallinn.

"Stop. Beer!" The Õllesummer beer fest.

These are the two (huge) beer fest mascots. Apparently rather famous over here.
I'm apparently very lucky to get such a photo.

Racing at the Baltic Sea Cup. The little red Toyota is driven by a 14-year-old Latvian boy,
who came 2nd in this race. The rest of the cars were VW Golfs. They start em young here.

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