Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Helsinki, Finland

We were able to have another day in Helsinki but we had to go buy our “ferry” tickets to Estonia before we could do anything else. At this point in the trip Gulya was headed back to Moscow with a few other people and then we would be on our own to figure things out. I wasn’t too worried I thought we are here with 21 other people if anything goes wrong. I know some of the others were stressing but I was ready for the adventure to continue.  So back to buying ferry tickets, we found the terminal and bought our tickets. It was 35 Euros which is about $70. Once all the tickets were bought we gave them to the one head teacher girl to hold on too and made a plan to meet back at the terminal at 10:00pm. The ferry was leaving at 11:00pm (so we thought) which we weren’t too excited about but it didn’t seem weird since most of our transportation had been at night so far. 

Well it was 10am and we all looked at each other like what are we going to do for 12 hours???  Everyone broke off into their separate groups and made separate plans. Well there were 11 of us that wanted to try and find the temple and some of the girls wanted to go and do baptisms. Jess and another girl didn’t bring their recommends and I don’t have one so we just wanted to go and take pictures and look around. Mainly just to say we went to the temple in Helsinki Finland!!!  We had to take a taxi (which is a big no no in Russia but we figured we were ok in Finland) and it felt like a forever drive and we wondered if he was really taking us there or where we were headed. But we were able to get there safely and with no problems.  

We when first came upon it, it wasn’t what I was expecting. But then again I didn’t really have any expectations to begin with.  It is a really small temple and it sits on a very high hill, so that was neat to see. The most obvious difference was it had one black steeple; you don’t see much of those on temples.  It was so amazing to just be standing in front of it and knowing that I was in FINLAND at the temple gave me such a peaceful and happy feeling.  We walked around and took some pictures then the girls went inside and Jess, Hilary and I went to a little church building that was just down the hill. We asked if we could just wait inside for them to finish and they were like yeah no problem and if you need anything just let us know. They were so nice and friendly and they spoke English so that was a bonus! We just relaxed and read our scriptures and the church magazines that they had and before we knew it two hours had past and the other girls were done.  I was so at peace and just relaxed that I had no idea that much time had passed. The man that helped us was wonderful he told us how and where to get on the bus that would take us into town and he told us how to get to a shopping center that had food if we wanted. We headed back into town and went to an all you can eat pizza buffet and just chilled for like 2 hours. It was nice to talk and get to know the others girls and to branch out of our normal group and be social. Plus we were trying to kill some time off our 12 hours we had and the pizza was really good too! 
The rest of the time we spent just walking around and sightseeing and trying to find some souvenirs and then the weather turned really cold and it started to snow so we wanted to head back to the boat harbor and just wait inside for our ferry but we didn’t want to leave some of our group behind so we went to the train station and chilled for a while and people watched. Which is always fun to do and especially in a foreign country.  There were a lot of drunken people and crazy people and homeless people and once the one drunk man started to yell at us and look like he was putting a curse on us and that he might have a gun, we booked it out of there and waited outside to meet up with them! 

When we get back to the ferry terminal I didn’t really notice it at first but there was no one around except our group. They were all done for the day and came early to take a break and relax until we boarded. Some of us had to use the restroom but there was a cleaning lady who said we couldn’t and locked them. Well Lexi and I had to go really bad so we went upstairs and found one and asked the lady if we could use them and she said yes but then gave us a really strange look and got on her radio. We just went to the bathroom and again thought nothing of it and when I came out of the stalls there was a security officer standing in the women's restroom and he starts talking to me in Finish and I tell him I speak English and then he starts telling me that the terminals are closed and we need to get out cause they are locking the building up for the night. He pulled on the door handle of Lexis’ stall and I told her to hurry up and we went back downstairs.  I started to tell everyone that the guards said they were closed and we needed to leave. But that didn’t make sense because we had a ferry to catch then it all clicked and we  thought to actually look at the tickets and the guards said that the ferry left at 11am not 11pm. Are you kidding me, 21 of us missed the ferry and just spent 12 hours in the city wandering.  We couldn’t believe it, what were we going to do, we had no where to stay and we were being kicked outside where it was cold and snowing.  Plus we were missing Daphne, Madi and Auriana and we didn’t know where they were. We gathered our stuff up and went outside on the front steps and waited for a plan of action. The first thing to do was get a place for all of us to stay the night.  Myriam was able to get online and found a hostel and we all headed to it to check in for the night. Daphne, Madi and Auriana came to the terminal on time and we told them what was going on and where we were staying.  Then we all just went to bed and waited for morning to see if we could get on the next ferry without having to pay another 35 Euros. 

In the morning we were able to get things worked out with the company and they let us on the ferry without having to pay again or pay anything more. The terminal opened at 9am and we were standing by the front doors right at 8:55 waiting for them to open and no one left the area that way we could make it on the ferry that was at 11am!! Once we boarded the ferry our troubles seemed like no big deal. It was another really nice ferry (cruise ship) and I just sat and enjoyed lunch, drank my Dr. Pepper that I was finally able to find and watched us sail through the water. It was only a four hour ride so I got a little nap in and waited till we got into Tallinn, Estonia for our next days adventure!

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