St Petersburg – Helsinki, Thursday 22nd June 2000
I have arrived in Helsinki just before the longest day weekend where everything shuts down and people go out to the countryside. The bus journey was fine. An ever-helpful receptionist at the Puppet Theatre led me down to the taxi to the Hotel Europa. There were some mute people on the bus. Border officials were interested in my passport (and took it away temporarily), and my pictures and laser pointer, on the Russian side. We had stops for snacks and duty-free. I arrived at the bus station and phoned ahead for a hostel place. Hot! I showered and immediately went out to see the sights. I visited the fish market for the salmon plate and cherries and looked around. Neat, clean and functional – these qualities really stand out after coming from Russia. I walked back along gardens, to the Kiasma modern art gallery and post-modern exhibits – an interesting building with automatic internal doors. I had a short walk past the music shop (Gigasampler and ISIS software) to the stadium tower. I went back after my usual water intake past this jazz club (where I am sitting now listening to the blues). A quick trek back to the hostel and I then went back out via a burger to the club. The band is ok but I do find blues limited. The beer is going down well. I am setting myself up for a restful weekend. The piano is at a low level. Touring with a jazz band: What a life! The nice hostel room overlooked a courtyard.