Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The Scandinavian Expedition 2010 - Diary Day 33-35

My trip was far from over when I wrote the last entry in my diary, but I didn't feel like writing anymore (I guess the holiday changed from real adventure to a more traditional-style trip as I approached the more populated South). This entry is therefore a brief retrospective look at that last bit of my Scandinavian Expedition.

Last time I wrote about Kuopio and how much I liked it. I wanted to stay longer, but being alone, there wasn't much else to do (that's the drawback of travelling alone - it's harder to enjoy social life and cities aren't as much fun). I therefore left the beautiful town and headed to the next one - Mikkeli. I got a ride from a Russian woman who was going to Poorvo (near Helsinki) with her daughter. It was funny how they couldn't grasp the concept of me being alone, in the middle of Finland, travelling from place to place, sleeping under the sky and enjoying it. Turning down their offer to come to Poorvo with them was a bit of a mental struggle: the prospect of the daughter's company was quite appealing (her intellect's company was much less appealing, but sometimes that just isn't relevant), however, I just couldn't skip half the country ahead of schedule, so I stuck with getting off at Mikkeli and pitching my tent under a breathtaking sunset.

Mikkeli WW2 Museum

Mikkeli - the home of several WW2 museums
The day in Mikkeli was quite random. After the morning chores (packing the tent, performing hygiene in a nearby lake and putting the backpack under a lock) I headed off to the acclaimed WW2 museums. Once I was done with visiting the town, I gritted my teeth and walked about a zillion kilometres along the motorway, under a 35° heat, to find a plausible hitchhiking spot. In the evening, my tent was pitched in a small patch of forest overlooking the beautiful Savonlinna castle, and my tired muscles were relaxing in the lake.

Fellow Czech traveller. I have a lot to catch up!
Savonlinna and Punkaharju
After Savonlinna, I entered the Punkaharju pass, a 7km narrow stretch of land between two lakes, a place of strategic importance during the Swedish-Russian war times, and the last bit of nature I enjoyed in Scandinavia. Once out of there, it was cities all the way to the end. It was also the last time I slept next to a lake and swam in one, enjoying the usual magical sunset.

Next day, back on the road. First a local guy showed me a place not many tourists know about - a huge garden with hundreds of clay statues of all kinds. Patsaspuisto is the name.

Hey, the truck is on fire!
Then an elderly man (with good English this time, so no second Posio) picked me up on his 1988 Volvo truck, and that's a ride I'll definitely remember. He was taking the truck from somewhere far far in the North to the docks in Turku to ship it to Bolivia for 10 thousand Euro. Needless to say a 22-year old truck had no air conditioning, it wasn't going very fast and to avoid overheating the engine, heating had to be turned on. So not so cool of a ride... Ah, and the lorry on fire was fun, too. At some point I noticed smoke in the rear view mirror and told the driver. I got quite scared that the old machine was really on fire, but it was just rust and dirt on the lorry floor taking fire from the exhaust pipe underneath. Apparently, all Scandinavian trucks have exhaust piping right under the lorry, so the hydraulic oil doesn't freeze in the winter. I killed over 200km with this guy, all the way to Kotka almost on the Baltic shore. The next ride was quite short, only about ten minutes, but those ten minutes with an Estonian guy who was going fishing were very useful. Although he didn't speak a word in English and I'd need to brush up my Estonian, I managed to learn a very important sentence in his language: "Hi, one beer, please. Thanks". Crucial knowledge since Estonia was my next target after Finland.

And that's it for now. Good night.

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