July 28, 2002
breakfast at the hotel was free, nice, and filling - I had five croissants with
huge amounts of ham. Yes I know it's a weird combo but I like both, so why not
mix 'em. The plan of the day was a visit to the art museum in the morning, and
of course the whole ferry business in the afternoon. Shamefully I must admit
that I am not a big art lover, at least not what most people consider art. The
Helsinki art museum, right by the central train station, featured an exhibit of
many paintings and the occasional sculpture. I guess especially with paintings
my taste in art is about as far from mainstream as it gets. For instance, most
oil paintings gross me out because it looks like the painter left pieces of
colorful butter halfway on the canvas. Add to that the fact that in most cases I
either have to guess what the picture means, or it's painted in such rough
strokes that there is no detail visible. Fortunately, they had some nice pencil
and watercolor paintings, where one actually can see the details of a scenery
and doesn't feel the need to clean up after the artist. I guess this is why I do
got to visit the local Hesburger after all - me for a drink ("large"
Sprite, being 0.5L, for two bucks) and Essan for an ice cream. Then back to the
hotel to pick up the car and off to the ferry, the Silja Symphony. They started
boarding shortly after our arrival in the usual car line, and
we soon got to our nice cabin which was of the 2nd lowest class, the
special perk being that it's actually above water. Yes, you can get a cabin next
to the engine room - we didn't. Actually, our cabin was on deck 11, with deck 12
being the sun deck, so we were lucky. Two beds, one shower, what more do you
need we thought, especially after discovering the second, very well hidden towel. One
step up would mean that you get a window facing the inside promenade; the next
step would give you ocean view and a TV, probably as backup in case it was foggy
and the view didn't hold up to expectations; the two next levels up would be
very nice suites. Next time, maybe.
boat is very nice indeed; the only competitor running the Helsinki-Stockholm
route is the Viking
Line, which is considered less luxury and cheaper.
But we opted for the premium competitors and I must say had no regrets.
There are many restaurants on board, so we picked one which suited our tastes,
and 42 Euros later (with tip) we were well fed, even if not bursting. You can
also opt for the 25 Euro / person buffet dinner, where you can pig out, but
which was lacking quality and selection. However, it apparently suits the boat's
captain, Henrik Cars, into whom we bumped twice during the evening.
life on deck is very active until sunset, ranging from people sunbathing,
reading, to others drinking heavily the tax-free liquor which can be had on
board, to the gentleman with a super-telephoto lens and a very, very flimsy
tripod taking pictures of the sunset. I think I was the only one with a
Powerbook on deck, though. Once it got cold we went to one of the lounges,
equipped with TVs and some music. In our section Voyager's very own and
unmistakable Captain Janeway was giving commands with Swedish subtitles, an
unfortunate thing since especially her voice could use some dubbing. Hey, it's
not just me, the 6 year old boy at the 1995 Star Trek convention in San
Francisco felt the same way, I am not ashamed to admit.
am also not ashamed to admit that I purchased 6 kg of wine gums. Now think about
it (or don't, maybe it's better that way). Facing a hard decision, I left the
Haribo gummy bears on the shelves because I can get them right in Santa Clara,
but wine gums, the real ones, 5 Euros per kilo, how could I say no to that?
Essan was a bit more reasonable and purchased a small pack of peanuts, for
snacks in between as she said. Overall we were freaks in the store, not just
because of the gums but because of the lack of liquor in our purchase. Others
had shopping carts full.
before bedtime we went to the Atlantis bar, where the night show was beginning.
Five dancers were performing to popular 80s tunes, some of which are long
forgotten (many rightfully so), and some of which must be completely unknown
beyond Europe (if even there). The performance included some obscure Swedish
songs which I was ashamed to admit I knew, despite having lived in Switzerland
at that time.