So Kim went back to the states for a long weekend, which left me to my own doings. I originally had grand plans to go someplace totally random, like Vilnius, or Warsaw, but it turns out that you basically need your own emirate to afford air travel here in the summer. Also, in case you haven't looked at a map recently, international train travel from Finland doesn't offer a great many opportunities.
At least the weather was going to be crappy too, with temperatures dipping into the low 40's, with drizzle. Ah, Spring. I was half-tempted to sit in our apartment all weekend and watch a trilogy of movie trilogies on my ipod until I completely lost my eyesight and my butt cheeks actually grafted to the fabric of the couch. However, I kept having visions of some of the more well-traveled people in my life (e.g., Brett, Jerry, and Kim's Aunt Arlene) shaking their heads and clicking their tongues at me for being, well, a lazy sack of crap. So in their honors, I decided to make a go of it. Here's what I got to, for better or for worse.
Some guys at work told me about a colleague who was in a band so I went to check it out. This provided the opportunity to a) interact with locals, which is the point, I think, b) see a pretty decent band, and c) catch a burlesque show that opened for the band. I wasn't really expecting the burlesque bit (nor were many people in the audience), but stuck it out because, hey, when in Rome. As it turns out, the show was fairly tame (I think members of the audience had fewer clothes on), so no harm done. I also stayed out until 3 am, which (Kim will tell you) is pretty impressive for me.
I woke up (late) and realized that rations were low, so I thought I'd head to a new market, that's supposed to be a little less touristy than the one Kim and I frequent. They were right. The average age in this place was about 107, and everyone was in my way. But the cold smoked reindeer I got there was worth it. Incidentally, if any of you find yourself in Helsinki looking for a fresh cut of hyvenen, I know where to send you now. At night I went to the WORLD CUP QUALIFIER MATCH (capitalization apparently required by Finnish law) between the local boys in blue and the mighty soccer powerhouse that is Liechtenstein. As an exercise in perspective, you should know that the Olympic Stadium (where the match was held) seats 40,000 people, which is 5,000 more people than the opposing team has in its entire country. Good game, with the home team winning 2-1 (a virtual slug-fest in soccer terms).
This was the day of total mannishness. I hopped a train to Hämeenlinna, which is noted for three things: 1) A Castle, 2) A Prison Museum, and 3) and Artillery Museum. The only way to inject more testosterone into Hämeenlinna would be to elect Chuck Norris as mayor.
So I hit the castle first, which was awesome because it was super old, and because they give you free tour-guides who have to dress up in costumes from a drama club version of Romeo and Juliet. My guide was great. Very knowledgeable, but I kind of felt like he saw the inside of a locker a lot in high school for knowing so much about castles. Think of any classic comic book character in the opening scenes before they were bitten by the radioactive spider and you'll know what I mean. Here are some castle snaps:
After the castle, I hit the prison museum, where sadly, there were no costumed tour guides. It wasn't Alcatraz by any stretch, but it was a fun and educational way to confirm in my mind that I would not do well in a prison situation. Here is a terrible, fuzzy picture of me in the Finnish Prison Shower (note: that is a sentence that I never really anticipated ever needing to type):
I skipped the artillery museum, because I saw a lot of it from the window of the castle and because I was hungry, and because you can only look at so many big green guns before they start to lose their emotional impact. After lunch I went to what was maybe the worst art museum ever. The art itself was ok, but the guy at the ticket deck was a total jackass, and I hate museums that don't let you take pictures. I get that flash photography may hurt old paintings, but why can't I take a picture without a flash? In a fit of pique, I sketched a painting that I thought Kim would like and have included it below for your enjoyment:
The painting was called "Jaa-Ei," which translates to "Yes-No" and is of a girl with a flower in her hand doing the whole "he loves me, he loves me not" thing. I thought it was fun. Maybe I can get Kim to paint a reproduction and then take hundreds of photos of it. That'll show 'em.
I closed out the bachelor weekend by seeing the latest Terminator movie, which I give a solid "meh," and will probably never think of again.
Kim's back now (thankfully), so we will return to our regularly scheduled (slightly less manly) programming.