We Can’t Afford the Beer in Helsinki!
Wednesday, July 7th, 2004: Helsinki, Finland
Kouvola to Helsinki: 137 kilometres
The drive from Kouvola to Helsinki is an easy one – the only stop we make is to take photos of one of the brilliant yellow mustard fields. We arrive at our hotel, check in, and spend the afternoon doing chores – I do laundry, Greg works on the journal and heads to an internet café to post. The posting can be done, but for some reason, our email will not work. We have not been able to send or receive email since we were in Stockholm, 1 ½ weeks ago. I join Greg at the internet café, and with the manager we try to figure out the problem, without success.
We head to a nearby bar – there is ½ hour left in happy hour, an important fact in a country where a pint of beer costs over $10 at normal prices. We start talking to a group of guys, and somehow it is now 9 p.m. and we are in a cab headed to another bar, where we join up with a group already there. The night wears on – people keep telling us that we can’t afford the beer and buying us rounds, refusing to let us return the favour. The only thing that saves us is the realization at about 11 p.m. that if we don’t catch the last streetcar, in about 20 minutes, we are in for either a long walk home to our hotel in the suburbs, or an expensive taxi ride. We say our goodbyes, start walking then run and make it onto the streetcar with no time to spare.