Kate and Bron's Diary for 2002-07-20

Stayed the night in Kaustinen

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From: "Bron Gondwana" <brong@brong.net>
Date: Wed, 24 Jul 2002 04:32:25 +1000 (EST)
We got up early because this was our last day in Helsinki, and the
Helsinki Card (HC) cost so much that we wanted to get our money's worth!

We decided to try the Hostel's breakfast, at €5 each. It was actually
better than I had imagined, and I also made up lots of extra buns and
stashed them in my bag for lunch, which made it very cheap all together!
I think a couple of people noticed me stashing food into my bag - oh
well, too late for them to complain now ;)

Unfortunately, it was Saturday (duh!), and nothing much opened until
11am. The guidebook was also very badly written in places, meaning that
we kept trying places only to discover that they opened later.

Eventually, we noticed that the Olympic Stadium Tower was open, and free
with the HC. We caught the lift to the top (they don't even let you
climb the 12 flights of stairs - which is a good thing!) and looked out
over the city. Very nice view. Helsinki had the Olympics in 1952, and we
had just missed the 50th aniversary, which was earlier that same week!

At 11am, the Tram Museum finally opened. There were heaps of old trams,
from the original horse-drawn models, slowly increasing in length. They
had stories about the changes over time (female conductors were also
trained to be drivers during the war, but only on conductors' pay. They
were also not allowed to wear trousers even in winter, and had to stand
up all day!). There were even electric buses for a while, which had to
drive quite accurately to stay underneath the wire!

As well as the trams, the Tram Museum had a whole set of posters on the
Olympic Movement, and the Helsinki Olympics in particular. The Olympic
Anthem[tm] was also playing - on repeat. The first couple of times were
very nice (4 part choir and all that), but after 20 times it was getting
_very_ annoying. It must have been hell for the people working there!

We tried (yet again) to see Finlandia Concert Hall, which is very
impressive architecture, though the marble veneer is quite thin, and the
local winters are bad enough that it has to be replaced every 20 years
at massive expense (the marble comes from Italy!). Unfortunately, they
only had guided tours, and as it was nearly 1pm by that time, and we had
to meet Mikko at 2pm, we had to skip it.

The last stop was Kiasma, a contemporary art museum. The main themes
appeared to be sex and death. There were some quite impressive uses of
technology, particularly film, and one room with opposing mirrors, and
with a television facing each mirror linked to a video camera on top,
also facing the mirror. There were even more reflections and strange
copies of yourself than with just the mirrors!

Mikko was a bit late due to a car accident delaying traffic, so we
didn't wind up leaving until about 3pm. We saw lots of forests and lakes
(nice holiday homes by the lakes!), and had a suprisingly good dinner at
a service station. The 24 hour service stations are very good here,
though fuel is between €1,00 and €1,10 - less than England, but a lot
more than Australia still.

We finally reached Koustinen about 9:30pm, just in time for the tail end
of a gig that Kati had SMSed us to try and make. There was a folk
festival happening, at which Kati's band was playing. Oh - Kati and
Mikko are friends of mine from MUCS back in Melbourne, we're currently
staying with them in Oulu, Middle Finland.

We danced and drank and met various drunken friends of Kati's who wanted
to hear Australian accents until about 3am, noticing that it never
really got dark. The music was quite good, though the folk dances were a
little tricky, since the instructions were being called in Finnish!
Eventually we were just too tired and went back to Kati's grandparents'
farm, where we stayed in a summer house with room for about 20 people -
luxury! We heard later that the dancing kept going until about 5am.

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