With a little bit of England in between...
04.11.2011 - 19.11.2011 17 °C
After an 11hr sleepless flight from Japan we arrived at Helsinki airport and made our approach towards the customs officer – a large, rough looking, tattooed man with a face that would never have cracked a smile and that only a mother could love. We realised we were not given an arrival card and there were none around.
Mel took a deep breath and lined up first. He looked at her and then her passport and asked in a deep croaky voice “where are you going?” Mel, clearly startled by the question answered with “sorry?”. “WHERE ARE YOU GOING!?” repeated the man in a loud stern voice. “Umm... into the city” was the best Mel could fumble into words. “HOW LONG ARE YOU STAYING?” “ahhh... just two nights" Mel stammered. With that followed a powerful stamp in the passport then a stern look and that was it! No landing card, no declarations, no luggage x-rays, nothing else... If you make it past the big scary man at the customs counter, you’re allowed in Helsinki!
The first thing we realised when we got into town was our immediate requirement for warmer clothing. So the plan for the next day was to shop for warmth. This plan quickly fell apart as we wondered around the next day to the sight of shut shops. It so happened that our weekend in Helsinki happen to fall on two public holidays so restaurants and pubs were the only things open! Nevertheless we decided to attempt to shake off our jet lag, brave the freezing cold in what limited clothing we had, and attempt some sightseeing.
We stumbled across the contemporary art museum which looked warm inside so decided to check it out. Inside was an interesting African exhibition where we spent a good half of the day. For the second half we took a ferry over to some nearby islands which inhabit the UNSCO world heritage site Suomenlinna sea fortress. Here, Mel froze but tried to stay interested whilst Luke played on the old cannons and attempted to capture the picturesque scenery with the cannon.....camera...
We left Helsinki having tasted some authentic food and warming drinks. We had a small taste of the culture and the very reserved, quiet, don’t make small talk but happy to help you when you need it type people, and left for London.
Here is a brief summary of our brief stay in London:
- Greeted at the pub by Lukes lovely sister Alison and her husband Mat (Hadji)
- Cooking delicious slow cooked lamb roast (NZ’s finest)
- Dining out at various favourite restaurants
- Leaving for Malta!
We have included some of our own photos of our stay in Malta (below), however, Alison has written an excellent piece on our Malta experience, so please follow this link for our special guest blog entry.
Next stop Spain..