But they're not all sharks.
We spent a few rad days in Tallinn with Nick. We ate Tallinnese food (though it seemed a lot like modern cafe food everywhere), wandered around the old town (which is awesome), saw some churches, drank the beer, and generally had a good time in the sunshine.
We met a crazy drunk Russian guy (the bearded guy who isn't me in the photo) who claimed he was my disciple, and said he needed help. From me. At least some of these claims were true.
From Tallinn, we took a ferry to Helsinki. We were feeling the pressure to get Theresa to Tromso in a hurry since she was due to get her ass to Hawaii and tell the world about her Cardinalfish (Theresa recently handed in her PhD thesis on mating systems, behaviour and genetics of a coral reef fish, the pyjama cardinalfish). You can camp wherever you want in Finland, as long as you don't destroy crops, annoy people, or other things like that. More or less, don't be a dick, and you're welcome to put your tent in basically any place. We we tired and cold that first night, so we thought that we would check in a campsite that might have showers, electricity and all those mod-cons anyway. It was going to be an absurd price, so instead we drove to the other side of a lake and pitched the tent for free. And Theresa got to test her new Lifestraw bottle.
It was a fun night and we choofed off in the morning. As the day progressed into rain and cold, and we realised we were making fewer and fewer kilometers than we needed to to make it comfortably to Tromso the stress mounted a little, and it was with kind of frayed nerves that we stopped at another ABC (you know this if you're Finnish.. if not: it is the local everything venue.. fuel, supermarket, restaurant...). We decided to make for Rokua National Park: we could pitch a tent. Have a fire. Jump in a freezing lake, and sit near the fire. That was the plan.
Instead, on the way into the national park, lost, trying to figure out the multitude of micro dirt roads and what seemed to be huts, owned by Fins, in the middle of what we though was a national park where huts don't belong, we ran into these three gentleman who arrested our progress, and forced us into their hut for coffee. Well, let me be clear: there were three older guys, and two younger (about 25 or so).
It might be a midnight-sun thing. Normally, if you sit down for a polite beverage with your mates the sun sets and reminds you gently to go to bed. Often you can even choose the sleeping surface. I suspect that if the sun never sets and you don't get this reminder, you might end up not ever realising you should sleep, and instead continue drinking. I think that's what happens. The guys were drunk. I have been drunk before, and for a short while held the world record for most drunk, but these guys blew me out of the water. In we went for coffee, and as we went in, the two younger guys outside casually cleared out. Clearly the last victims of "come and have a coffee", they hadn't found a reasonable way of extricating themselves from these older guys, saw their chance and bolted. Theresa and I were stuck with the three who were so rollicking, I was left to wonder how yhey maintained verticality. Over a coffee they decided they liked us, and insisted we stay in their cabin.
That was a bit awkward: how could Theresa and I possibly stay in a cabin with these guys? It was a small cabin, and the couch already had one napping occupant (he wasn't allowed to nap long and was frequently reinvigorated with vodka... or similar: Soumi Viina, I think). The air was flammable, and we were both already light headed from the fumes.
The thing is: polite refusal can be difficult if you barely have a common language (we didn't), if 3/5 people are blind drunk (they were), and if 2/5 can't figure a smooth way out of the situation (we couldn't), then extracting yourself might not be easy. At this point, we had out helmets off (for drinking coffee), our gloves off (for holding cups), our boots off (for entering cabins): there was no quick-dash-option.
One of the guys, the only English speaker, had a joke: he would spit on his palm, comb his hair over, and in his best American proclaim "I'm George Clooney", and we would all laugh. So let's call him George Clooney (he's on the right in the photos). George took me outside, and showed me this:
This was going to be our own cabin, they had an extra cabin! In the foreground is the outside sauna. We called it that to distinguish from the inside sauna. Which we used. A sauna, a cabin, a walk in the national park. A bed. Curtains to block the midnight sun, a comfortable sleep. Hamburgers, Siina, coffee. That is what these guys gave us. Just because they were awesome. That is the only reason I can think of. In seriousness, they lifted our spirits, warmed us up, made us laugh and shared everything they had. It was a great night, and Theresa and I now have standing obligations to be kind to every Fin we ever see, and possibly to deliberately seek out a few, and be nice to them, too.
Where do you even go from there? The park was awesome. The night was awesome. There was only one place to go the next day: North! to the arctic. Towards Tromso. And so, off we went, and saw for real our first midnight sun (the lower latitudes have a bright midnight, but the sun dips below the horizon for a brief period, cheapening the whole experience).
One last thing to leave you with before we leave Finland: reindeer! How cool!