De avonturen van een besneeuwde zetel. In Finland!

Diary of a trip home (using interrailing)

Main thought: Kun tänään lähden, otan mukaan mitä tarvitsen. Taivaalta tähden, valitsen ja sitä seurailen. Kun tänään lähden, en taakse aio vilkaistakaan. Taivaalta tähden valitsen, vaikken sitä kiinni saa.

For those who don’t feel like reading the rest (can’t blame you!), the most important message first: A big thanks to all of the people who made the last 4,5 months so good. Talking about both the people I spent months with, and those I only spent a few hours with: As long as I had a good time, I’m talking to you. Big hug to all of you.

21/06/2011 Ihana Suomi, Sverige

After a great week (camping in Vaasa, Provinssirock) I arrived back in Helsinki on monday morning by taking the 4AM train from Seinäjoki. Taking morning trains after festivals is a recommendation btw… After the necessary shower and copying pictures to my laptop I left to Helsinki again. Last trip to Bulevardi, that means ammattikorkeakoulu Metropolia. Got my and Evert’s books and said goodbye to Kari. On the way to the tram I encountered Felix, another erasmus student I had seen a couple of times on parties and such. He was on his way to the book binder but didn’t know where it was located. Helped him out, chatted a bit and wished him a couple of good last days in Suomi.

Then I got back to my apartment, ate some pyttipannu for the last time (in the near future) in Finland and started cleaning. Next to a lot of cleaning there was a lot of packing that needed to be done. Ended up with 1 stuffed suitcase, 1 big camping backpack, 1 photo backpack and my school backpack. All equally stuffed. Said goodbye to my apartment and went for the train. Walking around with all that baggage is a tough job. Doing it with a jacket that is made to keep you warm at -25 is even tougher. Few liters of sweat later I arrived in Puksu and dropped my baggage there. This would be my last sleeping place before I left Finland. After a quick hug with the host however I left for Hki again, to meet my tutor Lauri. Had a few drinks with him, some chitchat and of course hugging. Liivia quickly joined us, Lauri left towards his home and us two got some food. Last time shopping in Finland, that means pizza!

Me and Liivia then went to Puksu where we all ate, checked out some pics of the last weeks and laughed a lot. After my goodbye hug with Liivia I was left with my fabulous host. We checked some more pictures, refreshed some memories, had lots of fun and a tiny but of actual sleep. I think she actually may not have slept that much because she left me a nice present. I know you read this: Kiitos paljon!

Around 5AM I left the building with compulsory hugging of course. Catched my 5:forty-something train in Helsinki and left for Turku. Around 8 I got out and went for the Turku/Stockholm boat. Most of the boat trip consisted of sleeping, something I had not done enough the previous nights and would not or barely have the next 1.5 day. 90 minutes before arrival someone actually wanted to make our beds. We were sleeping so luckily she would come back later. At some point me and my cabin mate were talking and he said that we must have arrived already. Checked with the personnel.. We did! So we got out, he helped me out with my baggage and we took the bus to the center of Stockholm. Didn’t have to pay because the bus driver didn’t feel like being friendly or even providing any kind of service. After dumping most of my baggage at the train station I got to see a tiny bit of the gamla stan (old town) of Stockholm. We also had some very healthy dinner at McDonalds.. I wasn’t starving yet but close to it. He had to catch a bus however so we went back to the station. His orientation wasn’t that good and I was lazy, so we were guided there by some guys from Libya (yah rly!). He went to his bus, I gave him a goodbye hug and went to check out where I had to haul all of my baggage because I didn’t feel like looking for the right place with all of the weight. Got on the train, found that there were no power outlets at all and no wifi. Better luck next time.. Watched a movie (Happy go lucky)

22/06/2011 – Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Holland … Home

Train arrived a tad late, at 6:twenty-something instead of 6:17 . No biggie, my next train was to leave at 6:42 . Didn’t take that one though, had to take the 6:33 which then was delayed to 6:45 so I’d be sure that I make it to my next train. Quite a crowded train to Copenhagen as I could even name myself lucky I had a chair. The view over the sea when crossing the bridge between Sweden and Denmark is quite nice. Think I was lucky to have seen it in the sun. Upon arriving in Copenhagen, I walked outside for a minute just to have seen some of it. Danish sounds weird. I ended up waiting for my train with 2 guys from California, I’d seen them earlier on the train from Stockholm to Malmö. They have been travelling through Europe and had been to at least Germany and Sweden already. At the time I talked to them they were on their way to the Netherlands and later on would travel to Belgium. Got on the train after a bit of running to my wagon, found my seat after some struggling and was in for another 4.5 hours of train. Time to watch a second movie: “L’auberge espagnole” which is a movie about erasmus exchanges. Halfway through the movie I heard that the train was boarding a ferry. That was new to me. Anyway, we boarded a ferry to go from Denmark to Germany. Got to talk a bit more with my Californian fellows and did some wifi-sniffing. Didn’t get it to work though.. 😦 After the ferry I continued watching L’auberge espagnole. That finished just in time for my next stop.

Which was Hamburg. I had about 25 minutes there, used it to find my way, go outside for a few minutes and make a few pictures and then wait for my train. With my best best best German I was able to make out that there WERE automatic stairs down and where they were. I also was able to help an old lady with aufmachen her water bottle and talked a bit with the man sitting next to me. Watched Memento on the way to Düsseldorf. Somewhere along the movie I moved my laptop and one of the rubber feet fell off. Damn you Apple. On the way things got a bit more hairy btw. My Finnish SIM kept getting kicked of the German networks and thus could not receive any calls. I couldn’t make any calls because “this telephone numbers has active call barriers”. Texting worked.. Receiving calls on my Belgian SIM didn’t work because I didn’t have any money to pay the international part. Add to that that Germans aren’t very friendly when you don’t know them, so people looked mad at me because I carry so much stuff (and block the hallway in the train). Upon arriving in Düsseldorf I checked for free wifi so I could top up my Belgian SIM, but alas.. Portals asking for VISA, mastercard or an already existing login. Fuck.

Got on the train to Venlo and kept on travelling. I then sent my parents a text message that I should arrive at the normal hour, so they’d have no worries. When I arrived at Venlo (NL) I noticed there were a lot of people we call “hangjongeren” in dutch. Basically teenagers that have nothing better to do than hanging around somewhere without cause while making a lot of noise. I hope it’s just a stupid thought in my head. No free wifi in Venlo, but almost home anyway. From Venlo on to Breda, I have been talking to a German fellow. A bit older than me (13 years..) but he knew some interesting things about the human brain/body and we were able to have an interesting discussion about religions. Breda: Said goodbye to my German matey, found my parents. A hug later we walked to the car (new one btw, fancy stuff!) and drove home.. At home I got to unpack immediately and I’m right now preparing for tomorrow. Hello home. Hello Belgium. I’m going to miss you Suomi.

Conclusions:

Pro:
– Beautiful views across Europe
– You get to meet/talk to a lot of different people

– You get to hear languages you otherwise don’t hear..
– Cheaper than taking the airplane (maybe not always, but certainly with a LOT of baggage), especially if you use the interrail card to visit some other places.. I myself got to see Vaasa in Finland and did my travelling to/from Provinssirock with it too

Con:
– Lots of baggage = lots of heavy hauling = pain
– Can be quite tiring so you really need to sleep when possible.. I was on the way for almost 40 hours and hadn’t slept enough the nights before I left which contributed to an overall tiresome feeling

Surprising:
– The Belgian railways have a huge amount of delays every day. Enough to cause trouble for people because train 1 is too late so they miss their second train and have to wait a long time. On my entire trip (Helsinki – Turku Stockholm – Malmö – Copenhagen – Hamburg – Düsseldorf – Venlo – Breda) I never had more than a few minutes of delay.
– I survived.

Train ratings:
– Finnish pendolino trains: quite luxurious in the 2nd class already. Free wifi (VR-junaverkko or translated VR-trainnetwork), 2 power plugs per seat, nice seats..
– Finnish IC train: bit less than the pendolino, no power plugs or wifi.. seats are okay though
– (not really a train) Viking Line ferry cabins on second deck (cheap! 15 euro Turku-Stockholm): well.. the bed is good/sleepable and if you’re sharing the cabin with only 2 persons instead of the maximum 4 it’s nice. Although it always depends on the other person too. Power sockets in the cabin and free wifi on the restaurant deck, suits me!
– Swedish night train from Stockholm to Malmö wasn’t that nice.. Again, no power outlets, no wifi, not very roomy seats.. Not even a table to put a laptop on. But I was tired enough to even sleep in there, so fine.
– Train from Malmö to Copenhagen: it had nice seats, but I didn’t have any reservation and didn’t feel like taking all my bags up the stairs so I sat down in a hallway with seats. Maybe this was the better choice since it’s a fairly short ride and I got to look through many windows when crossing the bridge. No wifi however!
– ICE from Copenhagen to Hamburg: Quite nice. Comfy seating, room for legs, 1 power plug per 2 seats, tables to put things on, quite new train too.. Many good-looking young people! No free wifi again. One big con: there’s not enough room between the seats to actually roll a big suitcase on wheels. So I had to drag it on it’s side.
– IC from Hamburg to Düsseldorf: Okay. For every 2 seats 1 power plug which was not hidden this time. Bit broader path between the seats. No wifi. – RE from Düsseldorf to Venlo: shitload of people, had to sit in the part where one can also park bikes. No wifi.
– IC from Venlo to Breda: didn’t care. Sat right next to the doors and talked the entire time. Shared some candy too. People > trains if there is a minimum of comfort.

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