Monday, May 23, 2011
Here we are in Helsinki and it is somewhat cold outside. We should expect that as we are getting closer to the Arctic Circle.
Today is 12 degrees C and the forecast is a 20 percent chance of rain. Well, they got it partly right. We went for a light breakfast as they were tying up and by the time we went ashore we got about 100 yards from the ship and fortunately we took our jackets that we got made when we were last in Tasmania. The coats are lightweight fabric and have a liner and they are rain- and shower-proof and both weigh about 3kg together so they are great to travel overseas.
We have some dry-as-a-bone coats that we bought in Australia and they keep you warm and dry, but weigh a ton and are not good to take overseas, but are good if we are travelling in Australia.
Getting back to today, 100 yards (I know we should be saying meters, but I still calculate the old way) from the ship, down came the rain and there was even lightning and thunder. It became very slippery and we were dry and warm to our knees, but wet from then on to our sneakers. Some had umbrellas, but in the wind they were not much help. The market outside the wharf was very ordinary and one shop wanted 15 euros for a child’s T-shirt and 20 euros for adult ones and they were poor quality and were screen printed with local flavour. We said no to the store keeper and moved on to other places.
There are many large vehicle and passenger ferries in this part of the world with countries and towns being so close people move around for work and pleasure. We have taken photos of the ferries, some so small where they take just two cars to large ones that take hundreds of cars and lorries.
There was no hop on-hop off bus in Helsinki as there was in other places, however, there was a tram ride you could take for 2.5 euros each and the people who went enjoyed themselves. We decided to go back to the ship and dry off and as we still have 11 more days on the ship washed our wet clothes in the ship’s self-service laundry. There are four washing machines and four dryers and the soap powder is free, as so are the washing machines and dryers.
We had a little trouble with our washing. We got to the laundry to find two little old ladies had taken our completed washing out and put theirs in, one load was finished and the other was just finishing, so we must have just missed them doing it. They made some remark about how we should be more considerate of others and we find later when we were checking on our dryers that their washing had been removed by others so they could use the machine.
I asked them how long did they wait and they said about 15 minutes and gave up waiting. Another couple also used the machine and the old ladies still had not been back to the laundry to check on their clothes. I guess there is one rule for some a not rules for others. Someone once said, which I thought was great: “They have all the money in the world but do not have any manners towards others.” I guess that is life.
We were told in Russia that things were very dear there and they come to Helsinki to buy all their food and drinks and then drive home, some six-hour return journey. After hearing that you cannot gripe about the cost of food at home.
So now we are good for the next few days and we will wash again before we hop off this ship on June 3. It was a shame that the heavy rain came and spoiled the day but I guess we can’t complain too much because that is the first wet shore day we have had since leaving Dubai on April 18.
Most of the passengers went on shore excursions and most got wet or very wet, so in a way were happy that we decided not to go on a shore excursion today.
Tonight we sail to Copenhagen and we have one sea day and arrive there on May 25. It is hard to think our cruising days will be over soon, we just have nine full days and a couple part days to go, before we commence the land portion of our holiday. We finally disembark in Copenhagen on June 3, leave some bags at our hotel that we are coming back to in eight days, go to the airport and fly to Oslo and stay there for three nights, then fly to Stockholm for four nights and then fly back to Copenhagen for five nights and then take a direct flight of 12 hours to Singapore, where we arrive at 5:20 a.m. Singapore time. We have booked a hotel at the airport so we can go straight to our room and have a sleep.
We stay in Singapore until June 20 when we fly back home, arriving about 7 p.m., just over 9 ½ weeks since leaving home. Many have asked why so long away and we say, well, it so far to come over here and the cost of the airfares is huge so we try to see as much as we can while we are here.
On our final cruise portion starting May 25, we have booked about seven excursions each which equates to one a day for every shore day, so we hope the weather holds and we have had our only wet day.