8 November 2013

The meetings begin

By Bryan

I look out the plane window as we touch down in Tampere, a lot of mixed feelings but the dominant one was “I’m Home!!” while I am a Patriotic Scotsman, and love Scotland, I feel more at home in Finland. Went through passport control, no issues, baggage reclaim, for once my bag was the start. So I went to info area, and bought my ticket to Tampere, went outside, gave my bag to the driver and sat on the bus.

As I sat down I was playing with my phone trying to get the settings right, and I stopped, listened to the radio, Finnish Radio, I put my head back and smiled! All of a sudden my contemplation was disrupted with a girl asking if I could move my bag so she could sit on the seat, I was happy I understood her, so quickly I moved my bag and went back to enjoying the music.

The bus finally departed, as I gazed out the window into the mid distance, not paying much attention outside, nothing had changed, rocks were still where I remember them trees, you name it. As the trees outside flew by, we eventually arrived at the train station. Any difference … nope.

I got up and gathered my bag that the driver had just taken from luggage hold, and made my way into the ticket office, pressed for a ticket and waited. The husband of the lady I spoke to on the plane came over and gave me a new train timetable and we all said goodbye. I went up to the counter and said “Moi, puhutko englantia?” … for those that cant understand that simple Finnish, “Hi, do you speak (or can you) english?” … “joo joo” was the reply (yes yes) … “kiitos, can I have a ticket to Turku” she typed, “Next train is 1511, so 2 hours” I looked at her, “I would prefer the 1611!” she types away ok thats 29.09 Euro, handed her the money “kittos” was the reply a few min later she hands me the receipt, I ask her for the ticket, she goes that is the tickt, I look at the receipt and see some weird code, so I say ok they changed, she looks at me and picks up an old style, and asks was I expecting this, I nodded she replies we updated our system, this way is easier. I smiled and said “Ok” and put my ticket in my wallet and said  “Kiitos”.

I go outside and look around, looks normal, put my bags down and check my phone, as a text message from my friend saying he is running late, so I relax, a few minutes later my friend is walking towards me smiling, he welcomes me back to Tampere, and we hug hello, after few moments we agree that the only place that meets my criteria of seat, food and internet was Cafe Europa, one of my favorite places in Tampere. We order some food, I get myself a Chicken Salad while Waldo gets a sandwich, and we site and catch up. Quickly its time to go, so Waldo takes one of my bags and we go to the Tamerkoski, so I can get a picture, we walk back to train station where we find my train, I take my bag and say goodbye, it was amazing seeing Waldo again, I do miss his South African charm, and the banter but it was a shame that the others couldn’t make it. If any of you want to have a view of Tampere station go here:


I sit on my assigned seat and get comfortable, now Finnish trains compared to what is considered a train in Scotland are different, you have leg room, you have enough space above your head to stand up, you have a foot rest, you seat goes back so you can sleep and finally you are comfortable sitting for the journey! Scotrail take note! Seriously VR has you beat! And this is not just the newer carriages, the older ones are just as comfortable (newer ones also have a radio in your arm rest), so I lay back on my VERY comfortable seat and sleep, well kinda, their were some American tourists looking for Turku and just butchered the Finnish language … Kiitos became Keetoes! WTF!!!!

Its getting dark outside as the train hits the stations, and fastly we are getting to Turku, I look out the window and see Hesburger (Nordic version of McDonalds but better), and then the bus station, and then finally we are at the train station, I walk off the train, get my bearings on the platform and head towards the Aurajoki, here I look around and everything is their where it was 4 years ago when I was last hear, with no change, turn right past the arches under the bridges and I am at the hostel!

I go to the desk sign the paperwork hand over so much money, find my room and settle in for a few moments, my room is shared by a Finnish guy who admitted a few days later I knew more about Turku than him, and a Japanese guy who was doing a world tour with his wife.

I knew I needed shower gel and toothpaste so I walked along the river bank to the Fori, this is an orange boat that goes back and forth across the river all day, almost everyday, it uses a chain system, when I lived here I would use it daily! Go into the shop and buy what I need, of course this is more than just shower gel and toothpaste, there is an essential on that list, a wee black sweet, made from Ammonium Chloride, now people that know about this sweet will be saying “Oh God Nooo” but yes I bought some Salmiakki and where my friends and family who know this stuff will disagree but it tastes AMAZING!!!! Seriously you cant visit Finland and not try Salmiakki or taste Jaffa, or even Piima aka sour milk! I’m drooling now so I think ill take some Jaffa!

Anyway enough sidetracking, I come back place my stuff on a shelf, lock up my laptop in my locker and walk to Kaupatori, where I find my favorite bar, The Castle, this is the best pub in Turku, and buy a half pint of fosters, yeh its piss but I have my reasons, I get up when finished, and text my friend I am on my way.

Slowly walk up the hill, pass the bus station, over the bridge turn left then straight on then turn left again and I am at my friends house, I yell on him as I did not know if his dog was friendly or not, he comes out and we greet each other, we speak for a few moments then agree that I should go say hi to some other friends, so I walk to another house and knock on the door, where Jeremy, a crazy French guy answers, I go in and there is Emmi, they greet me in custom way of a hug and sit and catch up for a wee while. I was hoping to see Lola, but unfortunately she passed away in March, but the dog they have atm was cute and my animal magnetism worked well as the dog seemed to love me.

After a wee while I said goodbye to Emmi and Jeremy, yet again usual way and went back to see Teppo, the original plan was to have a games night but one person was sick and the other couldnt make it so we juts had something to eat, a lovely spag bol and a catch up, before I came back to the hostel and went to bed!