Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Kiss My Turku

It has now been well over a month since the beautiful sunny day when I packed my boxes, loaded them on a truck, took the Baltic Queen to Helsinki and continued to Turku.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Gymnaestrada camp Day 11 - Final goodbyes and homecoming

The very final day started with a half asleep goodbye hug to Carolina and Lucia who were leaving to catch their flight, and then after some more sleep and plenty of time to rise and shine we had the final lunch at Chapman at midday. Despite having been seriously overfed during the camp, I ate a lot because the food was unusually delicious.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Gymnaestrada camp Day 10 - Wrapping up the Gymnaestrada

When we took our last 9:40 morning ferry to Helsinki, I was still quite unsure of where I would be working. I was supposed to go to Messukeskus but I was much  more willing to go to Get Together Area instead, and fortunately, just minutes before the said groups split, I was able to exchange with Atoumata and thus I got what I wanted. This time the shift was especially easy - a few patrols, cleaning up a cliff, a tea break, a few more patrols with Oskar, a lunch, and as we were having lunch Elina and Helena came up to us and said that we've been doing some g'job, and released us as a reward. Once again it was me, Oskar and a few hours of free time in Helsinki, which we chose to spend looking around in stores, as usually. After the free time we all gathered at Get Together Area to go watch the Gymnaestrada closing ceremony.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Gymnaestrada camp Day 9 - Going on an adventure or two

As it turned out, the permission to wake up and go to work an hour later than before was permanent, so we had to be out in time for the 9:40 ferry again. Our hostel was near the harbour and the walk wasn't long, however during our stay they seemed to be in the middle of some works with most likely rain water gutters, so there was something resembling a small moat surrounding the building. So on day 9, just about time, I tripped into it as we were on our way out, hit my right knee and got a lovely bruise to add to the carpet burn from the gymnastics day I already had on the same foot. Nevertheless, it didn't bother me much and we carried on to the boat and our workplaces.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Gymnaestrada camp Day 8 - Nothing special, keep scrolling

A week had passed since our arrival when we were all very happy to wake up a whole hour later and catch the ferry at 9:40. Therefore we arrived at our areas, mine still in Töölö, a whole hour later and our shift was shorter.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Gymnaestrada camp Day 7 - Midnight Sun

The first half of the 7th day was quite the usual, except for the fact that our usual 8:40 ferry departure was served by Tor instead of the usual Suokki; to me it was the first and so far the last time on board. I was working in Töölö once again, however since every single corner of all the areas was in tip top condition it meant there really wasn't anything at all to do.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Gymnaestrada camp Day 6 - Doing our own gymnastics

Following the usual somewhat difficult wakeup and rush to the 8:40 ferry, we were divided into three groups, because the Töölö practice fields had been put into use and the presence of the environmental team was now required there as well. I was, in fact, initially placed there and only spent the first two days in Messukeskus because the area was not in use. So this time I went along with the Get Together Area group, since both the areas are next to the Olympic Stadium.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Gymnaestrada camp Day 5 - Knee deep in cream sauce

On the 2nd workday we had to wake up even more brutally early and make it to the ferry that left at 8:40. Otherwise everything was much like on the day before - we were divided in two groups once again, one heading to Get Together Area and the other, including me, to Messukeskus. The 2nd day was slightly easier because many people remembered the order of things and there was much less hassle. However the participants' lunch that day included some really creamy sauce, which meant that the few times I had to deal with the biowaste bins made some terrible stains on my working uniform.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Gymnaestrada camp Day 4 - Gymnaestrada!

Finally, after we had already been there several days, got to know each other well and adapted to the lifestyle, it was time to get to work. The wakeup was super early on my scale, with the optional breakfast at 8 and the ferry leaving at 9:10. On the first two days only two of the three areas were in use, therefore we were divided in two groups and we headed off to our areas.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Gymnaestrada camp Day 3 - Expanding our range

The third day was the first brutally early wakeup and breakfast, after which were given even more details about our voluntary work. We were a part of the environmental team, which would probably be the politically correct way to call the trash team. We were divided between three working areas, and our main task was to make sure that people do the recycling right and that the areas are clean and tidy.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Gymnaestrada camp Day 2 - The Suomenlinna day

The 2nd day started with a guided tour in Suomenlinna. After the tour we were given a first introduction to our voluntary work and we also received our uniforms, which of course called for a group photo. After that we were given some free time which I spent walking with Sonja from Finland and Oskar from Poland, as well as watching Gabriella sail in from Tallinn.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Gymnaestrada camp Day 1 - Arrival and settling down

Recently I had the honour to volunteer at the World Gymnaestrada, which is a major gymnastics event organized every 4 years. This time it was in Helsinki. To be more precise, I participated in a special international camp organized by the Finnish Summer High School Association (Kesälukioseura), which included volunteering at the event, among many other fun activities.

The 10 days at the camp were most likely the most fun I've ever had in my entire life. Considering that I got there because I came 2nd at the Finnish olympiad for Estonian high school students in spring and a Kesälukioseura scholarship was one of the prizes, I felt quite over-rewarded. We lived in Suomenlinna the entire time, which means that during the camp I got a nice dose of everything I love - international and lively environment, ships, Helsinki, busy schedules, gymnastics and so on. I will be publishing one post per day for every day spent there for the next 11 days, adding one song for each day.

Day 1, 09. July

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Experience: Nightwish-cruise on the Baltic Princess (8-9.06.2015)

Nearly a month ago the ticker I had on the side of the blog ticked to zero as we packed our stuff, drove to Turku, met up with two more friends and cabinmates and headed to the Silja Line terminal. Arriving there well before the boarding time, we did the check-in and went to a nearby bar to wait.

We returned to the terminal and boarded as soon as it was possible and right after boarding headed to the buffet to claim our booked dinner. While we were standing in the line the ship departed, giving me a wonderful view of the Viking Grace.

Boarding a sold out cruise
Boarding II
These Nightwish & Silja Line balloons were all over the place
Leaving the Viking Grace behind
Bye Bye Beautiful
The selection was huge at the buffet and we spent hours eating all we could. I remember especially enjoying the sushi and the ice cream and having a hard time fitting everything I wanted into me.
After the dinner the men went to the cabin while Riikka and I went to grab spots at the Starlight palace for the gig. As the palace got crowded, I had to sneak out a few times to poke the men to come along, because otherwise they would have never squeezed through to get to us. Fortunately in the end I succeeded and soon enough after they joined us, the gig started. I can't complain about the setlist, it had everything I wanted. Afterall, the moment I was most looking forward to of the whole cruise was screaming "WE WERE HERE" at the end of The Greatest Show On Earth. At some point I tried to snap some photos of the band members and when nearing the good part of the mentioned song, I climbed on Matti's shoulders. It was a minute of almost constant eye contact with Marco Hietala, until I was put down again - apparently because a security guard told Matti to put me down.

And since I mentioned my own photos, here's the very best I got - it really wasn't easy to get a clear photo. 

If my memory's not failing me, this one was taken by Matti using my camera.

After the gig the party went on until very late hours when the Starlight palace was closed. Us girls then went to sleep, the men carried on partying in others' cabin parties. Subsequently we girls woke up for the Nightwish-quiz and Bingo the next morning. Alas, we didn't win a meet and greet for our cabin (The quiz was so easy, but there was a few tricky questions such as the amount of words in Ever Dream, and a question about the original singer of Over the Hills and Far Away caused a minor conflict), so we chose to have some fun at the Karaoke instead, after some hard but successful attempts to wake up the men. To my great disappointment there was only 8 Nightwish songs available in the karaoke list, as I had wanted to sing either Ever Dream of the Phantom of the Opera, yet neither were available. So I sang I wish I had an Angel instead. I also remember an outstanding performance of Slaying the Dreamer by a young girl. She did the screaming so well that it's a pity I can't find it on Youtube. 

Later on Marco, Troy and Floor performed an acoustic gig including the first ever live performance of Edema Ruh. Of our gang only Riikka attended it, the rest of us discouraged by the big crowds. Instead, we went shopping, rested some more and chilled in the Piano Bar. 

Afterwards, before our arrival to Turku I took a few photos of the ship and we went to chill on the sundeck, where I bumped into my friend Kalle Id ( who greeted me with the words "So, we did end up on the same cruise!".

Mandatory staircase photo
Quite a pleasant sight on a sold-out cruise
Finnclipper in the Turku archipelago
Mandatory funnel photo

After disembarking I was a bit bummed to discover that I still did not have a single one of those Tallinksilja & Nightwish balloons in my possession. Finally after asking some random people of the whereabouts of the balloon giver, they offered to give me one of theirs. You'll probably never read this, random strangers, but thanks a lot, you made me very happy!
Coincidentally, the cruise marked exactly two years since my previous Nightwish gig in Tampere, where I got the bag signed.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Experience: Sailing to Stockholm on the Aurelia + Galaxy to Turku

It has now been two weeks since I last left my Tallinn home. My final destination being once again Tervakoski, and the way I got here being once again somewhat adventurous. It started with a 36-hour non-stop sailing to Stockholm on Aurelia, the largest Estonian sailing yacht. We departed in the evening and the sail out of Tallinn was quite enjoyable, with people telling stories and enjoying the view and the calm weather; on the other hand, it wasn't windy enough to use sails and we lagged a bit behind the schedule. Alas for me, the next time I could just sit outside and enjoy the environment was after we reached the Stockholm archipelago; as we got farther from the coast the boat started rolling quite badly and I failed to prevent myself from getting seasick. On the 2nd day I managed to climb out on the deck a couple of times; the weather was actually wonderful. Soon afterwards we were hit by even stronger winds and higher waves, so I had to resort to curling up in the cabin bed (which, fortunately, was surrounded by walls on three sides), trying not to roll along and crawling to the bathroom every now and then. As we progressed the rolling got so bad that nothing would keep me in place on the bed and I had to lie across the bed and hope to keep myself in place with my legs. Early  in the morning on the 3rd day we finally reached the archipelago, the sea got calm and after some actual sleep I went on the deck to look and steer. That's when I found out we had gained up during  the windy hours and eventually we reached Stockholm only a few hours behind schedule. The weather was lovely and the best part of the whole experience was the fact I lost quite a bit of weight. At this point I would most likely even agree to do it again.

Superstar near Tallinn, making impressive waves. Later on we also saw her outbound.
View from the cabin window on a good day
A day and a half later
Baltic Princess in the archipelago
Viking Grace, shiny and beautiful as ever, also outbound. 
As I mentioned, the weather in Stockholm was gorgeous. We parked the boat near Gröna Lund, I went to the center and met up with a friend, later on I chose to buy a transport day ticket and take the most out of it, so I ended up walking around a little in almost every corner of central Stockholm. At one point I took the ferry from Gamla Stan back to Djurgården and picked up my suitcase. I'm not quite sure what exactly was happening, but the entire city was full of old vehicles, both cars and public transport. I also witnessed some kind of a parade thingy at the Royal Palace, which included seeing both the King and the Queen.

Mariella and Cinderella
I was just wandering around thinking of heading to the harbour when I passed the royal palace and saw a bunch of guards, so I chose to stick around and see what's happening...
... when His Majesty passed by.
Quite an impressive escort
As I walked on, some more marching squads passed.
Soon afterwards it was time to head to the harbour. As I arrived, Galaxy was just coming in and Silja Symphony was surprisingly still in. 
Fishies at the crowded terminal
Seems like Silja Symphony was in to stay; when I checked Marinetraffic the following day though, she had made it to Helsinki.
The Galaxy was surprisingly full for a Sunday evening; the Symphony next to us on the other hand seemed empty. For some reason I thought that the huge crowds in the terminal were waiting to board the latter, but unfortunately for me, all were boarding Galaxy. I had an E-class cabin, which is right above the nightclub. The only thing I chose to do that night was participate in the ship's karaoke, which had an unusually low attendance rate and quality of performances. Fortunately I didn't stand out in those terms, since I somehow managed to choose all the wrong songs. Due to it being Sunday, the free cabin party from down below didn't last for too long and I got about as much sleep as possible with the time zone change and early arrival in Turku. 

Mandatory funnel photo

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Experience: Merilin on stormy seas

A couple of weeks ago I had a chance to try out the last of the Tallinn-Helsinki ship crossing options I hadn't tried yet. While I've always been curious about crossing on a Linda Line catamaran (my previous experience with fast craft was during the SuperSeaCat era when I was quite young) I have still been somewhat cautious because the risk of having my trip postponed or cancelled seemed too big. And I can't say it didn't affect me this time; after I made my booking, the smaller white catamaran Karolin got some technical issues and schedules had to be redone for the whole month. My booked return trip disappeared entirely from the new schedules, thus I had to change the booking; but besides that, everything went quite smoothly. The booking, check in and boarding process wasn't too different from the large ferries, just on a smaller scale. The catamaran carries no cars, just bikes. There was a lot less people and to board I only had to scan a barcode. While the fact I received no boarding card was a great disappointment for me, I can see how the boarding system is very convenient for frequent travellers or those in a hurry - the customers Linda Line caters for.

Karolin; due to technical issues her crossing lasted 2 hours and 30 minutes and the same reason prevented me from trying her out too. 

Merilin in Helsinki

The inside of the catamaran mostly consists of sitting areas; there was one bar and a rather small store, plus a nice staircase midships. To make a purchase it wasn't even necessary to leave the seat.
Considering the crossing only lasted an hour and 40 minutes I didn't really feel like anything was missing. Looking out of the window and feeling the catamaran roll a bit more easily than a large ferry gave a nice feeling of actually being at sea. 

Mandatory staircase photo
And since there is no funnel to photograph for the mandatory photo, here's another staircase

The nice feeling especially hit the spot during the return trip, which is the main reason why I'm writing this. The weather was gorgeous, just a little windy. As soon as we got out from between the islands of Helsinki and slammed the gas, the catamaran started rolling very heavily. It was difficult to even stand, not to mention walk. Had the trip lasted longer I would probably be writing this down as a negative experience, but the intense part probably didn't last longer than 40 minutes. Nonetheless, that 40 minutes was enough for me to get a few bruises while walking or by missing the seat while trying to sit. Most of the passengers seemed quite badly sea sick, but fortunately I was not the only "enthusiast" who found it the perfect occasion to hang around on the sundeck. I actually dare to say that the fresh air and view there kept me from getting very seasick and trying to hold on and not fly away was quite a lot of fun. I also enjoyed the fact that at one point I saw the islands of Helsinki as well as the coastline of Estonia at the same time, not to mention the evening ships that had departed from both ports.

Silja Symphony departing
Mariella showing off her beautifully done new stripes as she departs
Not the usual Kustaanmiekka route
The best photo I got of Viking XPRS with all the rolling...
.. and Norwegian Star, outbound from Tallinn
Quite an impressive trail, creating rainbows and all
Me enjoying the rolling, the wind and the splashes. Leaning was the only way to stay safe and still for a bit. 
As the catamaran arrived in Tallinn, we had a very nice view of the cruise area.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Cruise ship calls in Tallinn & Turku 2015

It has already been some time since Port of Tallinn released their cruise schedules. Just as I did last year, I'm going to give an overview of what I'm awaiting most. Since I'm planning to move to Turku halfway through the summer, I will mention that place too. Though, to be honest, the only considerable downside about moving from Tallinn to Turku is having to switch from THIS cruise schedule to THIS one. I guess not many find it worthwhile to sail the archipelago.


The oldest of the lady-faced cruise ships has a rather interesting itinerary this season, stopping in places such as Visby, Mariehamn, Turku, St. Petersburg, Tallinn and Riga among others, but skipping Helsinki and Stockholm. For Turku, she is the first, last and most frequent visitor, as well as the only one to visit more than once. Did I mention I really dig the itinerary?
First call in Tallinn 7. May & in Turku 11. May. 

Norwegian Star

She's adorbs. And visits frequently for the third season in a row. 
First call in Tallinn 14. May

The most recent P&O newbuild, also the first one with the cruise line's new uniform livery - one cruise fleet less of boring white ships.
First call in Tallinn 6. June

Mein Schiff 4

Under construction in Turku as I write this, the 2nd newbuild to TUI Cruises will most likely still have a slight smell of construction works when she first calls in Tallinn in early June. 
First call in Tallinn 8. June. 

Louis Aura
I'm not as hyped about the ship as the cruise line here. Louis Cruises, now known as Celestyal Cruises, has not been seen around here much. Celestyal Cristal from the same fleet has a rather colourful history here on the Baltic Sea (which I've even written down HERE) and many would be happy to see her back in these waters. Seeing the cruise operator around here sheds a ray of hope, although some superstition may still surround the ship, considering the bad luck she had in these waters. 
First call in Tallinn 13. June. 

Disney Magic

Also mostly about the cruise line - Disney has not been seen here for a long time. 
First call in Tallinn 15. June.


As well as last year; I barely got the chance to see her and fortunately she will be returning this year. Yet another ship from my narrow selection of vessels with a history worthy of writing down (HERE). Now under charter to Cruise & Maritime Voyages, she's sporting a white funnel and will be renamed to Astoria after this season here. 
First & only call 10. July

Some more ships I'm looking forward to merely for the looks, such as Island Sky, Voyager, Corinthian or Horizon. I'm also looking forward to Magellan, an ex- Carnival / Ibero ship recently acquired by Cruise & Maritime Voyages with her Carnival style funnel still neatly in tact, but her only two calls are in August and September. But speaking of Turku, besides AIDAcara - 

Serenissima, 2. June
Balmoral, 15. July. 

Saga Sapphire, 29. August - definitely a nice birthday present, thank you!
But hey- Turku gets Viking Grace every single evening and a nice shipyard letting out shiny newbuilds every now and then. Though, for some years to come those shiny newbuilds will be exact copies of the Mein Schiff 4. 

P.S. Something totally epic is coming up in about a month.