We arrived today via ferry...still looking for accomodations for a night. Mari will be taking a different path home from here, she has booked plane out of London on around the 28th...Bon and I are going via bus from Tallinn tomor. to Riga and then via plane to Amsterdam to visit friends Kim and Rene. We do not know how long there but plan on returning via London sometime around the 30th most likely landing in Salt Lake City to perhaps meet up with Bonnie's Aunt and Cousins and their daughter, Whitney who was with us during the first part of our travels...We hope this itinerary works out and we will then head `home` to Missoula sometime around the 1st of Aug.
Helsinki is a very clean, totally European town. We spent a bit of $$ trying to get O.N. accomodations via phone and gave up after we called Hostel Academia and they said there was a heavy metal festival going on so everything was full. We booked the single remaining dorm bed with them and went there hoping for cancellations and to leave our luggage. They were very nice but after an afternoon of checking out the town and the crouds of "heavy metal" participants/attendees who really get decked out in their costumes, there were still no cancellations but they called a hotel/hostel 20 minutes out of town by bus and made reservations for us there. The public transportation here is great, very easy to get to our "hostel", Hotel Matinlahti...especially after a gal literally led us to the door. Apparently, this place is run as a student "dorm" as well as having hostel accomodations and upscale hotel accomodations. It was by far the best breakfast feast we have ever encountered, a buffet which fed us everything you can imagine and we ate and gathered everything we could for our journey onward. Anyone coming to Helsinki aught to check this place out!!! Phone (09)887 61, fax (09)803 2664; email: hotelli.Matinlahti-reception@sodexho, internet: www.sodexho.fi/hotellimatinlahti
SUNDAY 17TH: It is hard to believe yet here we are at the end, it's just past 10 am here in this small town outside Helsinki, Finland...by midnite we will be in Riga, Latvia and by this time 24 hours from now we will be in Amsterdam! We ended as we travelled, scrounging food at breakfast to last the day making the most of our costly O.N. @ $30 US. Yet the breakfast included was perhaps the best smorgasboard(fittingly) on the entire journey - eggs, cereal, bread, chez, meat, juices, milk, tons of tea selections, coffee, rolls...you name it and it seemed to be there(no waffles/pancakes - boo hoo!). Great! and the location out and away from the city, trees all around, just minutes walk to the beach(19 degrees C.), tho it was our first cloudy day in almost a month...baby ducks came up to us begging, wonderful place, we are truely blessed by some guardian angel all thru the journey when it comes to finding a place to stay. This location has assorted buildings all with different cost levels from high end suites to hostel dorms(they weren't ready for our stay but they will be soon since some sort of Olympic function comes to Helsinki in August), even student facilities, lg. cafeteria & restaurant...the works, with biking and hiking paths everywhere!
On the bus to/from Helsinki see marinas everywhere along the route(tons of boats of every description) and more bike paths...big buildings use lots of glass, I expect due to the "white nights" and long dark ones in winter! That is one thing which made this last part of the trip unique as well, as we travelled N. not only did we get to experience spring and flowers, etc. over and over but also the daylight kept increasing until now in Tallinn/Helsinki it doesn't get truely dark at all and is actually quite bright out until 11:30 or so!
Finally, in Helsinki the great travelling outdoor art exhibit of photographs by Yann Arthus-Bertrand who has put together a surreal yet very real collection of views of our Earth from above...they inform/educate/amaze...natural phenomenon as well as human impact upon our environment world wide - a truely fitting summary for our journey!