Europe current locationI awoke to what sounded like a phone ringing. My Razr was bleeping incessantly. Annoyed, I went and picked it up. Oh yeah, I’d set an alarm for 9:00 this morning so I could get the logs done before I went out. No problem. I laid back down, thinking maybe I’d set the snooze and would get a few more minutes. I didn’t really fall completely asleep, I was sure of that. However, when I looked at my watch, an hour and a half had passed, and it was suddenly 10:30. What the hell!?!? That’s not possible, I thought, as I darted out of bed. Anj was getting out of school at noon, and I wanted to get a log or two done and go downtown for some pictures. Dagnabbit.

Once I was thinking clearly again, I noticed what had happened – the Razr was not syncing time with the phone service correctly, so I had set it manually. When I arrived in Helsinki, I never adjusted it for the time change, so it was an hour behind. Thus, the clock went off at 10, not 9, and I’d stayed in bed half an hour. I took the laptop into the kitchen and, after getting a bowl of cereal, began work on Saturday’s log. It was very bright outside as usual, but the snow had lost some of its luster from Sunday. Well into the log, I realized I wouldn’t have enough time to take a shower, get dressed, and make it all the way downtown for any useful time before Anj would text message me, so I gave up on that idea. I’d have Wednesday night and all day Thursday to take care of pictures downtown. Of course, this bit me in the butt in Dresden, but the weather was a little more stable here. Snow or no snow.

I made a few emails to Emanuel, my sister’s friend in Stockholm, and talked to Hena as well about what to do in Germany when I returned. I have no hotels or anything in either case, so it’s going to be interesting when I do get there. At 12:15 Anj sent me a text message asking where I was. I told her I sucked and wasn’t able to get up in time to go downtown. She showed up at the apartment a few minutes later; she’d driven, so she only had to get the short way home from school.

We debated going to Tampere, where D’Arcy was for a little bit, but after determining that the Spy Museum and restaurant we wanted to go to were open, we solidified that idea. I quickly got a shower and dressed. D’Arcy suggested over IM that we take a train instead of driving, and I realized that I’d depleted the batteries on my hard drive all morning instead of doing the smart thing and using the power supply. I could work on the logs in the train, but moron me didn’t think about that. Fortunately, we decided to take a later train and get lunch at home. This allowed the laptop time to charge. Anj made us a frozen spinach pizza, putting some of the leftover smoked salmon she had in the fridge on it. Meanwhile, I loaded maps for northern Finland, Stockholm, and Frankfurt into my GPS so I wouldn’t have to do it later. The pizza came out delicious, and the salad with D’Arcy’s custom salad dressing was good with it.

I made a short jaunt outside to the convenience store to get cereal for tomorrow morning. They had my Fitness and Fruits, as I’d seen it through the window earlier. I popped outside into the cold without my coat. The cereal turned out to be 5 Euros! That’s a six dollar and fifty cent box of flakes, folks. Good thing I’m not doing this all the time. I paid for it, said “kiitos”as I waled out, and used my key to get back in the door, which thankfully worked. Inside, I wiped my memory card, and waited until the last second to take laptop off charger. Anj and I then bolted out the door and into the snow.

We were planning on walking all the way to the train station. “We’ll keep an eye out for the tram,” said Anj. “If we’re lucky, it’ll come.” As we walked, I realized something.

“We’ll, I’m not going back up to get it,” I told her, “but I forgot my hat. At least I have my gloves.” She stopped and looked at me, saying it might be a good idea. I thought about all that was involved in retrieving it, and said it really wasn’t important. We took a left and headed up the large, divided road a little bit down from her apartment. Just as we arrived at the next major street with train tracks, the tram was arriving. What timing! Anj and I hopped on board, and she put her card up to the registration box. She pressed the number 1, for one fare, then repeated the process. “I’ve got you covered,” she told me. This fare is good for one hour anywhere in the city. We, however, were only going to ride it for about ten minutes. The tram pulled up to the road that leads to the train station, and Anj motioned me off. Unconsciously I followed the attractive woman in who was sitting in front of me, but Anj called me to the rear exit.

“Whups, sorry,” I said, explaining that the Neanderthal male in me took over just then. We walked down to the train station, Anj having some trouble in her current shoes with the ice and snow. Inside, I decided to get a coffee, partially because the cute coffee girl was there. Anj dashed off to get tickets. As soon as I got into line, however, I realized I didn’t have anything smaller than a fifty Euro note. I chased after Anjanette, eventually locating her about to pay for two tickets. Instead I tossed my fifty in there. The man cheerfully gave us what little change was left; it cost 44 Euros for both of us to go to Tampere (TAHM-peh-ray), and Anj applied her student discount and split it down the middle. When we got back to the coffee place, she handed me 22 Euros. “Oh good, I’m not broke anymore.”

I once again asked Irina for a Magnum Latte, and she confirmed “take away” and including three shots. As she was making it, I asked Anj how much time we had. Six minutes.

“They’re good here, but they’re not fast,” she noted, a sense of urgency in her voice. I popped several sugar packets and a stirrer in my pocket to speed things along. When she came back, I paid her the 4 Euros she asked for. “You want a lid, yes?” she asked, smiling? I confirmed this, and she put it on for me.

“I like your nose…thing,” I told her, unable to give a good word for the small diamond she had through one nostril. Stud? Ring?

“Oh, thank you,” she said, flashing her teeth again.

“Kiitos!” I said, as I started to turn and meet Anjanette, who was waiting by the doors to the tracks, already pushing it open. Irina giggled, and said “you’re welcome” in Finnish, then smiled again as I took off. I raced through the door, immediately followed by Anjanette. “I am SUCH a dork,” I told her.

The train was on track 7, and Anj told me the current Finnish announcement was saying it was leaving. We decided to do the smart thing and get on the train early, then walk to our car. Not a problem, I thought, and was reminded of the time in 1998 when Kelly I and had four minutes to catch a connecting train to Hokkaido and had to sprint through the station and do exactly this, surrounded by continually “Harro”-ing school kids. Anj pressed a button at the first door to open it, we jumped on, and then began to traverse the train. When we reached the first junction, there was a problem. The tickets told us we were in car 8, no question. The train on the little map, however, stopped at car 6. Uh oh. Were we on the wrong train? We walked another car and checked again. Same problem.

“Maybe we should get off and ask,” I suggested, and Anj pressed a button that opened the door to the outside. I expected to find several conductors nearby, but initially didn’t see any. Across from us, a man in a dark uniform stood. Anj called out to him in Finnish, but had to ask in English if this was the correct train. He either didn’t know or didn’t understand her. The man shrugged his hands and gave a very unknowledgeable expression. We returned to the interior of the train, very confused. This was definitely the correct track, but the cars didn’t match. The next car along was the concession car, and Anj finally had someone to ask. The woman explained that there was in fact a 7th and 8th car, but they were attached to this train externally, and could not be reached from inside the current train. We considered getting off and running to our car, but we had no idea how much time we had left. We finally ran into a conductor, and he didn’t seem to care about this, so we just found any available seats, which happened to have a little table in front of them. Anj let me sit close to the window.

“If anyone comes, we’ll just move.” She also explained that we might have to pay an additional fee for first class, if the seats were in fact first class, but it was a nominal one. The train started moving, and we traveled about two minutes to the next stop. Here we kept an eye out for people who were going to take over our spot, but no one did. I also suggested we might be able to run up to car 8 right now, but we again were unaware of how much time we actually had. We stayed. The schedule for this train listed no more stops for an hour, and when the same conductor came through, he wasn’t even phased by us sitting there.

I had been waiting, but I broke out the laptop now, and conveniently enough, there was a *plug* next to the table. How freaking convenient. The train began to accelerate, and I turned on the GPS to get a reading. This didn’t work. The metal of the train wasn’t letting the GPS signals through, and after not seeing so much as a blip on the signal meter for over minute, I gave up and shut it off. Fortunately, the train had a speed gauge that showed up from time to time, and it got up to 175kmh (which is about 106MPH). Not exactly a Japanese bullet train, but still pretty quick. It proceeded to get snowier and snowier outside, and it became obvious we were well into the rural areas of Finland. Anj noted how it would be very pretty to live out here, and I don’t doubt that. I’d just want a bigger town.

An hour and a half of travel time later, we pulled into Tampere, where we exited the train before it could pull off for its final destination. There were lots of people tugging carry on suitcases here – the ultra-cheap flights around Europe tend to leave from small airports (Ryan Air for instance) and Tampere is the airport that they use in Finland. There were two dogs standing on the platform with their master, I think they were waiting for someone to get off the train. We noted, as we walked, that it felt colder, but we weren’t sure if that was our imagination or not. A flight of stairs led down into the main terminal, which looked dated. The informational screen appeared to have been jury rigged using an Atari 2600. Anj stopped momentarily in the ticket office to get a schedule. The train from Helsinki had arrived a good ten minutes after it was supposed to, and she didn’t know if it was simply late or if the schedule had changed from her old one. It hadn’t. It was just late. We stepped out the front door, and into Tampere.