Looking for tickets or info for the Get Happy Tour 2018 featuring Bowling for Soup, Army of Freshmen and The Aquabats?

This domain name was used for the Get Happy Tour back in its original run around 10 years ago, when I used to do work for BFS and AOF. However, for the past 5 years it has been used for my travel blog as I never thought we would have another Get Happy Tour and I didn't want it to go to waste.

But as a favour to two bands who have done a lot for me over the years, and so you don't miss out, ticket info is:
O2 Presale: 10am on 25 September
General Onsale: 10am on 27 September.

Tickets available from ticketmaster.co.uk and bowlingforsoup.com
 


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Posts Tagged ‘Hostel’

A morning in Entebbe

February 29th, 2012 No comments

As I arrived at 10pm yesterday rather than the 220am of my old flights I was able to get up early enough to be able to explore Entebbe for a while before my friend arrived to collect me for the journey to Jinja. After getting up, repacking my bags and discovering how bad the ants are in Uganda I checked out of the room and headed out towards the Uganda Wildlife Centre to see some African animals. It was to be quite a walk but a guy was waiting near the hostel with a boda motorbike taxi and took me to the zoo in only a few minutes.

Almost every guide book about the region recommends staying away from Bodas due to the risk of injury. The roads in Africa can be chaotic and the traffic laws tend to be used as guidelines more than rules so when combined with the quality of the roads and the lack of helmets there can be a lot of accidents. However when you’re in Africa without your own transport and on a budget they tend to be the only way to get from A to B within a town. TIA after all.

A Lion at the zoo in Entebbe

A Lion at the zoo in Entebbe (Uganda Wildlife Centre)

A Uganda Kob

A Uganda Kob

A Bird Cage at the zoo

The bird enclosure

A Zebra in Entebbe

A Zebra at the zoo

I enjoyed my time at the zoo as I was able to see and get close to so many animals that I missed out on last time I was in Uganda including Lion, Crocodile, Snakes and Monkeys – the latter of which were wild in the grounds and got VERY close on occasions. The grounds themselves were lovely and and extended all the way down to the shore of Lake Victoria and as I was one of the only visitors this morning I was able to walk around in peace and soak up the atmosphere.

While I was looking at the Lions I noticed a jeep pull up near me and a man in a suit got out and started watching me. Originally I thought I was standing somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be but after walking towards him he introduced himself as the manager and he wanted to chat to me just to see what my views were on the zoo. We chatted for a few minutes about his zoo and other zoos I had visited and he asked my opinion on a few things they had done recently – it seemed like they genuinely care about what people think rather than just presenting the animals for you to see like in some other zoos. I was also asked what I thought about the entry price of the zoo and whether I received a receipt but didn’t think anything more of the answers I gave until I got back to the entrance. As I walked out I heard somebody trying to get my attention from the side window of the ticket office – it was the ticket clerk who sold me the ticket wanting to give me my receipt. It seems the manager had a word with him to find out why I didn’t receive a receipt, I assume to stop him pocketing the money himself.

Lake Victoria

A view of Lake Victoria from the zoo

A nice tree-lined avenue at the zoo

Scenery at the zoo

An Ostrich

An Ostrich at the zoo

Wildlife at the zoo

Wildlife looking at me in Entebbe

A monkey having a drink at the zoo

A monkey having a drink in a pond

Monkeys at the zoo

Some of the many, many monkeys roaming free at the zoo in Entebbe

A monkey seeing his own reflection

A Monkey staring at his own reflection

A short, fast Boda ride later and I was back at the Entebbe Backpackers where I chilled with a magazine for a bit while waiting for my friend to arrive to take me to Jinja. I was chilling for maybe an hour before my friend arrived with Job, the Ekisa Orphanage driver of choice, and two kids from the orphanage (Paul and Zeke). The kids were really happy to see me, despite not being able to speak English, and we all sat around having some drinks and snacks in the shade for a while to give them a rest before heading off from Entebbe towards Jinja.

My room at the Entebbe Backpackers

The left part of the building was my room at the Entebbe Backpackers

Entebbe Backpackers

The main building at Entebbe Backpackers

Outside the Entebbe Backpackers

The road outside the Entebbe Backpackers

The journey progressed slower than we expected so we decided to stop in Kampala for lunch at a place near the American Embassy called Le Petit Village. It looked like a really expensive hotel, built in traditional African style, but we stopped for their deli which served a great selection of baguettes. I opted for a nice Salami baguette which definitely filled a gap. I caught up with my friend and interacted with the kids for a while but it was soon on to Jinja.

It was a great feeling when we finally arrived in Jinja and made our way up to Ekisa which is on the outskirts of town near the Adrift campsite I stayed at a few years ago. As soon as I got out of the minibus I was greeted by another one of the kids, Mweru, who came flying through the air and hugged me. I have a feeling this will be the start of a lot of attention from him, but all of the kids were so curious when I arrived and I spent most of the rest of the day relaxing at Ekisa and interacting with the kids. The building has a couple of rooms for volunteers, a few kids bedrooms, two bedrooms for the Emilys, a lounge, kitchen and is set in a great walled compound which allows the kids to run around and have fun in safety.

Driving from Entebbe to Jinja

Driving towards Kampala on the way to Jinja

I’m now relaxing in the room I’ll have for the week I’m here which usually belongs to one of the directors, but she’s in the USA on a fundraising trip, so it’s giving me a chance to get away from the constant chaos that seems to pour through the building.

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I’m back in Uganda!

February 28th, 2012 No comments

I’ve finally arrived in Uganda and I’m really happy to be here, but it has required another very long travelling day – one of the hazards of travel I guess!

Yesterday after travelling to London I checked into the Travelodge near Heathrow which was the hotel I stayed at before visiting Central America and it provided good connections to the airport. Then this morning grabbed an early night bus to the airport so that I would arrive in plenty of time to check my luggage weight – I was carrying a huge bag of toy cars for the kids and a couple of hundred pairs of underwear that was being sent over by my friends family so the bag was a bit on the heavy side but luckily it was still within the limit. I also spent some time doing last minute research about things to do as my new flights arrived in time for me to have a good nights sleep before exploring Entebbe in the morning.

I thought my luck had run out again when we got to the departure gate as we were told our plane would be delayed by at least 30 minutes due to technical problems and with a short connection and terminal change required when I arrived in Brussels I was worried I would miss my flight to Africa. However it turned out connections in Brussels work a lot better than in many hub airports and I arrived at the gate with plenty of time to spare. Brussels Airlines seem to travel to lots of destinations in Africa – I saw flights to Sierra Leone, Togo, Guinea and Ghana on the boards in addition to my flight to Rwanda and Uganda.

The flight to Africa went smoothly and we arrived at Kigali airport in Rwanda for our stopover a little early. It was a shame the sun had already set as it seemed we flew in between the hills of Rwanda and over the city before landing so it would have been a great view. It was also a shame that my arrival in Rwanda was only for a stopover as I really enjoyed the few days I spent there in 2009 and one day hope to return.

Flying from London to Entebbe, via Brussels and Kigali

The view from the plane on the way to Brussels

Stopping to let passengers off in Rwanda

We stopped to change passengers at Kigali Airport, Rwanda

After less than an hour, during which the plane was cleaned by a crew of people that looked like Ghostbusters we departed for my final stop of Entebbe, Uganda. The flight went really quickly and, as the airport is on a peninsula, it was very unsettling to have felt the plane touch down without being able to see land or any lights. I stocked up on supplies while waiting for my luggage before heading out to meet the guy who was transferring me to the Entebbe Backpackers where I’m spending the night. The hostel is ideal for my needs as they have private cottage rooms available for only $25 including transfer from the airport at any time of the day or night. I’m in my room now, and it’s very basic, but has everything I need – a bed with (most of) a mosquito net, a shower, power sockets to charge my phone and seems secure and quiet enough for me to get a good nights sleep ready for an early start tomorrow.

My room at the Entebbe Backpackers

My bed at the Entebbe Backpackers

My bathroom at the Entebbe Backpackers

My private bathroom in Entebbe

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Last night in Costa Rica and the flight home

February 15th, 2012 1 comment
Pre-drinks with a big bottle

Kelly pre-drinking before we all hit the town in San Jose last night

Me and Guido

This is me and Guido my room mate

So last night was definitely eventful but I had a great time and it was a great way to finish what has been an amazing trip.

The night started out at a local Karaoke bar in town which had a great atmosphere and was really cheap – I think I only paid the equivalent of $5 for 3 vodka & cokes! I’m not much of a karaoke person but after a few drinks I was soon joining in with Mena and Kelly while they sang Bon Jovi songs. This was much to the horror of the couples in the bar who were busy trying to sing love songs to each other due to the fact it was Valentines Day yesterday but we were only in the bar an hour or so before moving. The other Intrepid guide recommended we checked out the bar up at the University of Costa Rica called Terra U so we all jumped in taxis and made our way out to the suburb of San Pedro.

I loved the atmosphere at Terra U and I’m not much of a club person but it had a mix of everything – nightclub, bar, disco, sports bar, TV lounge and terrace all in one with the atmosphere and liveliness of a University all in a great climate. The drinks were much more expensive and I think I paid as much per drink there as I did for all of my drinks at the Karaoke place but I’m glad I decided to carry on there with the group rather than head back to the hostel. I must say that a University bar on Valentine’s Day is quite a frustrating place to be when single but I wish we had gone straight there. We probably stayed there for an hour or two before starting to head back to the hostel in groups, of which I was in one of the first with Mena, somebody from the other Intrepid group and Miriam. We chatted over whatever drinks of ours were left in the fridge before heading back to our respective rooms but I didn’t sleep much last night for a few reasons.

Ice overload

They seemed to like giving us ice at the Karaoke Bar

Tequilla shots

One of the other Intrepid group had her birthday so it was Tequilla time

Me and Kelly

Me and Kelly singing Bon Jovi songs in the Karaoke bar

Me, Mena and Kelly

Me, Kelly and Mena in the Karaoke Bar last night

Terra U

Me, Gina, Kelly (& Guido) in Terra U - the bar at the University of San Jose

This morning I relaxed in the hostel partly to recover from last night and partly due to the fact I would have a lot of travelling ahead. I got up early to say goodbye to Gina who is travelling on to Panama on the next leg of the trip with Intrepid and then finished my packing while waiting for the others to get up. I had a transfer booked for lunchtime; I decided to book a transfer through the hostel rather than catch the bus like Mena so we just chatted for a bit until it was my time to head to the airport.

The lady that transferred me to the airport was one of the hostel worker and came from Colombia. We chatter for a bit during the transfer about our respective travel experiences and about what I did while in Central America and it helped pass the time as the airport is quite a way out of the city.

Hostel in San Jose

This is one of the social areas in our hostel

I checked in online yesterday before heading out into the city so When I arrived at the airport I paid my $28 departure tax before collecting the boarding passes from the bag drop desk – they gave me the option to go on an earlier flight but I decided to stick with my original flight due to the fact I had a seat with extra leg room booked. When I received my boarding pass I found out they had changed my seat but they had put me in an exit row which was even better as I have long legs so every little helps. Then it was time to proceed through security to grab some lunch and then relax watching the airport activity before my flight.

My COPA Airlines flight to Panama City was short and sweet but enjoyable. I read in the safety information leaflet in front of me that you are supposed to be able to speak fluent Spanish to be able to sit in the exit row for safety reasons but the flight attendant gave us the instructions in English and said she knew she could count on us if there were any problems. I’m glad that she felt she could trust me as I was the only person on my side of the plane at the over-wing exit, while there were two Americans on the other side of the aisle. COPA seem a fairly good airline in terms of service, comfort and quality but that was the only flight I’ve ever been on.

San Jose Airport

A view of San Jose airport while waiting to board my plane

Panama City Airport

Waiting to board my KLM flight in Panama City

I’m now in Panama City airport waiting for my flight to Amsterdam where I will catch my connecting flight to London to finish my trip. I was worried I wouldn’t make my connection on time but it looks like this flight is going to be delayed, and the inbound flight arrived right next to my ongoing one, so in the end I had plenty of time. It’s an overnight flight so hopefully it’ll give me a chance to catch up on sleep.

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San Jose on Valentine’s Day

February 14th, 2012 No comments

By the time I woke up this morning some of the group had already left for the airport but I said goodbye to the remaining early leavers while enjoying the free pancakes that the hostel seem to put on every morning. I was eager to explore San Jose today so as soon as the rest of Team Breakaway were awake and fed we wandered into town to do a bit of sightseeing. We all wanted to see the Museum of Pre-Columbian Gold and decided that the plan for the day would be to visit that followed by a relaxing walk around the tourist trail walk that we were told about that follows a path around the city taking in all the best things to see.

Walking into town

Walking from our hostel to the city centre

San Jose

San Jose city centre

Plaza

One of the many open plazas in San Jose

Mena came with us into town but decided to relax with ice cream in the plaza during our visit to the museum. The price for the ticket has increased since my guidebook was written as they’ve combined the three subterranean museums into one so we decided to get our moneys worth and look around them all. We started with the temporary exhibits space which was closed while they set up for an art exhibition but we still managed to see some of the paintings before moving onto the money museum which showed us exhibits of Costa Rican money from throughout the ages along with monetary instruments. It was all fascinating as I’ve never really read up much about the history of money but wasn’t what we went there for so after checking out the exhibits we made our way downstairs to the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum.

The Pre-Columbian Gold Museum contained all sorts of artifacts covering the history of Central America including population maps, original tools, mock ups of homes, an example of a tomb and much more but the main attraction to me was the gold section. Among the exhibits were amulets, head dresses, gold melting pots and more including maps showing the progression of gold works around Central America and the styles of such works in different parts of the region. This was the first museum I visited on the trip, unless you count Copan Ruins as being a museum, so even though I’m not a museum person it was nice to read about the history of the area after travelling so far to get here.

Gold statues

A few gold statues at the Museum of Pre-Columbian Gold

Old pottery

You can also see pottery and other relics at the museum

Maps

You also learn about trade in pre-columbian times

We met up with Mena for a quick lunch at a cheap Chinese cafe just off the plaza before embarking on the tourist walk I mentioned. If you’re in San Jose and short on time like we were it’s a good way to see the city and all of the sights it has to offer including old buildings, parks, plazas, churches, old steam trains and sites of architectural significance. It took us a couple of hours to do, including regular rest stops due to the heat, and have us a an opportunity to take loads of photos. The route took us all over the town and finished back in the centre where we had an opportunity to do some last minute shopping in the indoor market before heading back to the hotel. The walk is definitely worth doing and you can pick maps up at all the local hotels and hostels.

Me and a bird

Me with a new friend in San Jose

A park

On our walk we went through many lovely parks

A nice church

We saw this church on our walk

Central San Jose

Back in the centre of the city this is one of the main plazas

San Jose Costa Rica

One of the main plazas in San Jose

Post Office

This pretty impressive building houses, among other things, the main Post Office

After returning to the hostel we decided that Team Breakaway should have a final meal together and Mena, Kelly and myself went to the supermarket around the corner to buy supplies and stock up on local foodstuffs that we wanted to take home. The meal itself was a lovely pasta creation made buy the girls and was a nice way to say goodbye to everybody before we head our separate ways tomorrow – Kelly on to Panama, Mena to Mexico and me back home to England while Kelly and Gary explore Costa Rica on their own for a while. We also took some final group photos to remember each other… but the girls didn’t like me interrupting their food preparation to take photos!

Gaudy's Backpackers

One of the social areas at our hostel in San Jose

Team Breakaway cooking

Mena and Kelly didn't like me interrupting their cooking

Team Breakaway

Team breakaway group photo (-Gina as she was somewhere else)

Apparently we’re going out on the town tonight with the people from the Costa Rica – Panama Intrepid trip and their leader which should be fun.

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Helsinki Day 3 – Nightwish

September 19th, 2009 No comments

Today was the day I had been looking forward to the most – the day I would see the final show in Nightwish’s world tour at the epic Hartwall Areena. We would spend much of the day at the venue queuing but decided to take in some sights first.

Helsinki is one of those cities where you can see as many things by just wandering as you can by planning a route so we decided to just randomly wander, although decided to go to the station to investigate tickets to the Pasila station near Hartwall Areena first. We weren’t sure what to do so went to the desks to ask about tickets but were told the tickets were only sold in singles, not return, and were only valid for an hour. This is completely different to the UK where, although the most expensive in Europe, tickets can be bought and used at any time of the day and can also be return tickets. This wouldn’t be as good for us so decided to go away then come back later after looking into tickets more.

The park in the middle of the road leading from the market square (Esplanadi) has free wi-fi so I decided to look online on my phone and found a one-day tourist ticket would be the most convenient for us. We decided to continue randomly wandering the city, taking in some more of the sights and doing some more shopping until we were ready to go to the station.

Back to the ticket desks to get the tourist pas, which they didn’t do. However they did direct us to a kiosk which sold them. We purchased the ticket and got on the train to the Pasila station which only took a few minutes.

Hartwall Areena

Hartwall Areena

We arrived at the venue somewhere between 12 and 1pm and there were already between 100 and 200 people in the queue, some of whom had been camping overnight judging by the comments that had been posted on twitter that morning. We decided this was far enough back so joined the queue.

Outside Hartwall Areena

Outside Hartwall Areena

It was warm enough to start with but when the sun started going behind the entrance to the car park that we were sitting next to it started to get quite cold. However we all managed to entertain ourselves with a mass karaoke session and random nonsense that always happens in a long queue for a Nightwish gig. During this time the security were also nice enough to let us all into the venue to use the toilets, providing that we picked up all of the rubbish that had accumulated throughout the day and night before.

Lots of people from various places visited

Lots of people from various places visited

Anna, the third member of the group, arrived an hour or so before doors and was able to join us in the queue – a short time later the queue started compacting up towards the barriers and she wouldn’t have been able to join us.

Security on the doors were quite strict so I’m glad I hid my camera in its usual hiding place as anybody that was found with one was made to join a separate queue to deposit it in the cloakroom which would have meant letting hundreds of people would get past us. On entering the venue there were a lot of fast-food chains to tempt us but, once we managed to work out that we were in the correct queue for the standing section, we decided not to leave it.

They tempted me with pizza!!

They tempted me with pizza!!

After 30 minutes or so the doors to the arena opened and we all rushed in – we think the other side opened first as there were quite a few people in there by the time we were in there but we were able to get around 10 rows from the front. There was no real pushing unlike shows in the UK so once we found a good spot we were able to keep it, give or take natural movement of the crowd.

Apocalyptica were on first and are the only band I’ve ever seen that have cellos as the main instrument instead of guitars. I’ve seen them twice before, including once at a music awards, but it was a good performance today as they had guest vocals on some of the songs instead of just being an instrumental act as normal.

Apocalyptica

Apocalyptica

Apocalyptica

Apocalyptica

Apocalyptica saying goodbye

Apocalyptica saying goodbye

After a tense wait Nightwish came on to a LOT of pyro which was very warm even from 10 rows back. We knew it would be a special evening and indeed it was – they had guest musicians, new songs that had never been played live, pyrotechnics, confetti and an incredibly moving water feature during the final song.

I didn't get too many photos of the pyrotechnics - the videos have that.

I didn’t get too many photos of the pyrotechnics – the videos have that.

The setlist was:
INTRO:
Finlandia (with Troy Donockley)

MAIN SET:
7 Days to the Wolves
Ever Dream
Wishmaster
Romanticide
Amaranth
The Sirenn(with Pekka Kuusisto)
While Your Lips Are Still Red (with Pekka Kuusisto)
The Poet and the Pendulum
Nemo
Sahara
Dark Chest of Wonders
The Islander (with Troy Donockley)
Walking in the Air Acoustic (with Troy Donockley)
Last of the Wilds (with Troy Donockley)
Meadows of Heaven (with Troy Donockley)

ENCORE:
Ghost Love Score
Wish I Had an Angel

OUTRO:
The Heart Asks Pleasure First

Tuomas in his boat

Tuomas in his boat

Emppu Guitar Solo

Emppu Guitar Solo

Pekko Kuusisto as a guest musician

Pekko Kuusisto as a guest musician

Anette dressed up for the occasion

Anette dressed up for the occasion

Emppu and Troy Donockley

Emppu and Troy Donockley

Anette from Nightwish

Anette from Nightwish

Overall I didn’t get as many photos as I do usually at Nightwish gigs as we were a bit further back but this allowed me to get some good videos and to actually experience the concert more with the confetti and general atmosphere.

Much of the talk during the show was in Finnish but a lot of the time Anette talked it was in English as she hasn’t quite mastered Finnish yet. They did make a point of saying see you on the next tour and that all of them would be on the next tour in case anybody was thinking Anette would be fired after the show like Tarja was last time they played the venue. The projection screen showed “see you in 2011” at the end so we have a bit of a wait but at the end of the gig while this was being shown we were in for a surprise – they played an unreleased song that will never be released over the sound system. It’s a song called “The Heart Asks Pleasure First” which is a cover of a song from The Pianist which was refused permission to be released from the original composer which is a shame as it’s a very nice song.

Nightwish at the end

Nightwish at the end

Inside Hartwall at the end

Inside Hartwall at the end

After buying the obligatory t-shirt with all of the shows from this tour on, which we later noticed were incorrect (London isn’t in Belgium for example), we proceeded outside and met up with people we had been separated from before heading back to the train station.

They have a good system in place for post-event trains. There is a walkway directly from the venue to one of the platforms at the Pasila station which just runs shuttle trains backwards and forwards into the city until everybody has been transported. It took a few minutes for the train to fill but only took a few minutes to get into the city, from where we walked slowly back to the hostel for some well-needed sleep.

Me, George and Anna in Hartwall Areena

Me, George and Anna in Hartwall Areena

Here are a few videos from the event:

This event was definitely a dream come true for me. Nightwish have been my favourite band for 7 or 8 years now and I’ve known them for 9 years since long before they even played the UK. I’ve been a fan through the hard times and during the times they built up a fanbase eventually playing 4000 capacity venues in the UK and to see a full show of theirs in something like a 13000 capacity venue in their home city at the end of their world tour. Unless you experience it there’s no way to really describe it. Just it was one of the best nights of my life and I’m glad I went!

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Helsinki Day 2 – Sightseeing

September 18th, 2009 No comments

A fairly leisurely start to the day today.

Me in Helsinki

Me in Helsinki

George relaxing

George relaxing

The end of the peninsula

The end of the peninsula

After waking and having breakfast we went for a nice walk to the tip of the peninsula that Helsinki is on, past the ferry terminals and stopping to take photos on the way. After relaxing for a bit to take in the wonderful scenery we walked back into the city towards the cathedral where we took some more photos. During this random walk we also started our souvenir purchasing at a nice souvenir shop right next to the market square which was a little expensive due to the location but sold some very nice items – we shopped at the market for anything we wanted cheaper.

Helsinki's old streets

Helsinki’s old streets

Me at Helsinki Cathedral

Me at Helsinki Cathedral

The next stop of the day was the Temppeliaukio Church which is like a concert hall built into some exposed bedrock. There were some people practicing for some sort of televised event there – a few musicians were soundchecking and there were TV broadcast vehicles outside so maybe it was an annual concert or something.

The old church in the bedrock

The old church in the bedrock

Right opposite the church was a great souvenir shop that sold everything else we needed. I say everything else as the souvenir shop next to the marina combined with the market allow you to find most things but this shop has things like Christmas decorations and just silly little things that you can buy as presents for people.

We decided to wander back to town and wandered down towards the Tavastia club, which felt like some sort of pilgrimage. To compare, the Tavastia is like the London Astoria, the Key Club, or Radio City Music Hall – the legendary venue where everybody seems to play and that would be missed if it was demolished. Nightwish have played here a few times so it was nice to be able to see it.

Helsinki Tavastia Club

Helsinki Tavastia Club

Esplanadi, Helsinki

Esplanadi, Helsinki

Relaxing in Helsinki

Relaxing in Helsinki

Nobody should go to Helsinki without taking in a cruise around the harbour whatever the weather. We decided to do one with IHA Lines but went back to the hostel first to refresh, put on warmer clothes, put souvenirs in the room etc. We decided we were going to sit on the open deck to take in the sights so needed to prepare!!

George and Icky

George and Icky

Me on the boat called Doris

Me on the boat called Doris

Our cruise took us out into the harbour, past the big ferries and out to the western harbour where the cruise ships dock, freight is shipped out etc. This took us past some nice stereotypical Scandinavian buildings and allowed us to get some good photos of the city. Next stop was Suomelinna, the fortress built on the islands off of Helsinki to protect the city against attack. We didn’t actually stop on the island but went pretty close to it and got some good photos before heading further out into the harbour.

Helsinki by boat

Helsinki by boat

Me on Doris again

Me on Doris again

Suomelinna by sea

Suomelinna by sea

After a while cruising the harbour and seeing many of the beautiful islands we started heading back towards the city. By this time we were the only people still remaining on the upper deck as many people had decided it was too cold – indeed it was but we wanted to take some good photos.

The final stop was the part of the harbour where the ice-breaker fleet is docked and where there are many government buildings before returning to the dock past the big ferries. The cruise took about 90 minutes and was definitely worth it.

Helsinki Icebreaker Fleet

Helsinki Icebreaker Fleet

The National Geographic Explorer

The National Geographic Explorer

One thing I thought was quite nice after the tour we waited to let the large Indian tour group and other tourists get off first, during which time the tour guide was saying thank you to them all in English. However when we went to get off she said Kitos, which is thank you in Finnish, to us which was a nice change and was the first time we haven’t been marked as typical English tourists that only speak English. Even the girl on the checkouts in the supermarket talks to us in English before we even say anything!

Me and Doris

Me and Doris

If anybody is considering doing a cruise on the harbour there are two or three companies to pick from and they all depart from the docks near the market square / presidential palace. They usually take similar routes but some do slightly different things at different times of the day so pick up a leaflet from all of them to pick the one that is right for you. They mostly do tours with live commentary in Finnish and English but others may offer other languages, dinner cruises etc.

We had started to get cold by this point and it was starting to get late so we headed back to the hostel via the supermarket, had dinner and now it’s time for a fairly early night due to the long day tomorrow.

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Helsinki Day 1 – Travelling

September 17th, 2009 No comments

A very early start today to pick my friend George up from her house in Canterbury before travelling to Gatwick for our flight to Helsinki with Easyjet.

The journey to Gatwick was quite quick and when we arrived at the car park it didn’t take long for a bus to arrive to take us to the airport. We had already checked in online so went straight through passport control but got stopped by security – they were checking quite a lot of people today. Not quite sure why my bag got picked maybe it was a random sample or maybe they were having problems with the machines.

Icky at Gatwick Airport with our plane

Icky at Gatwick Airport with our plane

Time for a coffee at Nero before walking to our plane. Boarding was a little late and the scrum for the plane was as usual but we managed to get an exit row which was great – I like extra leg room due to my long legs! The flight was uneventful and we didn’t see much due to cloud cover but we arrived in Helsinki on time. We took the local bus into the city and it went through all the housing estates on the way before arriving at the central train station 30 minutes later.

Me at Helsinki Harbour

Me at Helsinki Harbour

It was a little early to check in so we took a slow walk to the Eurohostel and took in some sights on the way such as the Orthodox Cathedral, Marina and Presidential Palace.

Helsinki Harbour

Helsinki Harbour

Helsinki Orthodox Cathedral

Helsinki Orthodox Cathedral

A photo of our room at the hostel

A photo of our room at the hostel

Another view of our room

Another view of our room

The third member of our group, Anna, was arriving another day but we let them know this so she could check in when she arrived. After checking in and travelling up a very questionable lift to our room we relaxed for a bit before randomly wandering the city to take in some more of the sights.

We are both quite tired and getting used to the cold so will have an early night ready for the next few days.

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The return of old friends!

August 22nd, 2002 No comments

Today we left the coast and headed back to Windhoek for the last time. On the way we stopped at a local craft market to purchase some souvenirs and I decided to buy lots of woodwork and other crafts including bowls and little statues. They wanted a mixture of both cash and other items. I was able to part-exchange an old watch, old pair of shoes and some unused suncream for some of the statues. It was a nice place to pick up traditional souvenirs but there were so many people there in competition it almost felt like we were being fed to the Wolves at times but they were really friendly with it and we never felt threatened or anything.

The market

The market

After arriving back in Windhoek we did some last minute shopping in the city centre – parking in the same car park by the Supreme Court again. I bought some souvenirs for people and also stocked up on Steers Special Seasoning. I tell you – this stuff has been a life saver these past few weeks. We bought it on the first day just to spice things up occasionally but ended up using it on everything every night so had to re-supply ourselves with some when we stopped at the supermarket in Mariental after leaving Hardap. The food we were supplied in advance (the MacDougall’s stews etc) was so horrible it tasted like watery cardboard. I think what we didn’t use was exchanged by people in the craft market too but the Steers definitely helped get us through until we could get some proper supplies. Although we carried on using it after getting supplies as it’s nice stuff!

Windhoek City Centre

Windhoek City Centre

Windhoek City Centre

Windhoek City Centre

When I got back to the truck Dan was causing more problems and this time for the locals not just us. There was a kid that was trying to sell the people in the truck some sort of traditional musical instrument. Dan decided it would be a good idea to demonstrate his spear that he bought at the craft market and when I got back to the truck he was chasing this poor kid across the car park waving the spear over his head to cries of “don’t kill me… don’t kill me”. If that isn’t an example of how bad things were getting with him, and an example of something that will destroy relationships between Africa and Europe, then I don’t know what is. It was also not a good idea to do that outside of the Namibian Supreme Court but luckily for our group he didn’t cause some sort of international incident.

Our Truck

Our Truck

Supreme Court

Supreme Court

We then made our way back to the same hostel we started at on the first night. I arranged it so we were in the same room again… and were greeted by seeing GERTRUDE again! When we were relaxing in our room the Meerkat paid us a visit too. It came walking into the room and straight under one of the beds. We wondered what he was looking for until I laid down and saw him unwrap and then eat a boiled sweet that somebody had accidentally dropped. That creature was so cute… I love Meerkats!

Meerkat on the bed

Meerkat on the bed

Meerkat feast

Meerkat feast

GERTRUDE!!! AGAIN!!!

GERTRUDE!!! AGAIN!!!

Tonight we decided to blow the money we had left on ordering something like 18 pizzas for us all to share and while they were basic they were also really nice. As pizza is my favourite meal it’s a fitting end to my time in this amazing country. I’ll be sad to say goodbye in the morning!

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