European Vacation: Day 1 Japan to Helsinki to Estonia
Woke up to howling rain this morning after getting only about 3 hours of sleep. Was up late last night making hotel reservations for Tallinn and Helsinki (The first two destinations on our trip) as well as packing and cleaning up the apartment as much as the limited time would allow.
I decided to leave my usual photo gear at home and instead am taking only my new Sony NEX-5 with 18-55mm zoom, 16mm prime, flash, and three batteries. I also took the Sigma DP2 for its like-like rendering in good light. I’m pretty impressed with the NEX-5 so far and I think the 16mm prime will be the lens that gets used the most. The low light capabilities of the Sony are really impressive, not to mention the sweep panorama feature. I will be putting both of them to good use on this trip.
Saori is shooting with the Olympus E-P1 and Panasonic 20mm f1.7 lens. I also picked up the new 9-18mm zoom for her yesterday as she really enjoys shooting with a wider perspective.
And I guess I should mention that I am typing this on the Toshiba netbook I picked up for the trip. With its 250 GB hard drive, and price of only $380 it makes more sense than buying more than the 4 extra 16GB cards I already bought for the trip. It will also come in handy during the trip with the ubiquitous wifi access in Finland. I had no time to make hotel reservations n Praha or Vienna, so that will have to be doe from the road.
Breakfast consisted of a peach given to us by Saoris sister. I also cleaned out from the fridge those items which would have gone bad while we were away. This being Friday, it was Burnable pickup so that worked out nicely.
Saori called a taxi to take us to the station since it was pouring buckets, an even with the short sprint between our apartment and the cab I received a minor soaking. The taxi driver was thoughful enough to drop us off under a roof near Yokosuka chuo station so we could avoid the same soaking. (Taxi ride was 1,040 yen for what would have been a 15 minute walk)
we caught the YCAT bus in Yokohama, ad arrived at Narita around 8:30 am. After checking in, we bought a few last minute items (neck pillow, toiletries, and a money belt) and then exchanged yen fr Euro (170 Euro) so we would have at least a little bit of cash when we arrived. We then caught a meal at a miso restaurant before boarding the flight. I ate miso chicken with rice, tofu, miso soup, and pickles, AND a beer. Saori had a bowl of miso ramen soup. (2,640 yen) From there we went to the airplane, making a brief stop to pick up a couple of bottles of water and a some snacks.
It was funny when I walked onto the airplane, the cabin attendant greeted me in Finn. Can’t blame her though, I am after all Finnish by heritage. It was just a bit amusing, and one of those cool moments that remind you if entering a new place. It’s 11:52 now, Saori is already passed out (and using MY neck pillow) so I will likely down a sleeping pill soon to see if I can manage to stay unconscious for most of this nearly ten hour flight.
ps: The Crying Baby section is not too close to me this time, and has been relatively quiet so far. Just a couple of little outbursts. Let’s hope that holds true for the rest of the flight.
Day one continued: 7:20 pm
Well, we are on the Tallink ferry about 45 minutes out of port from Helsinki, on our way to Tallinn. The rest of the flight was pretty quiet, I think it was anyway. The sleeping pill I took knocked me out so I was oblivious to the world for a few hours, and that is always a good thing on an international flight.
Getting Euros from an ATM at the airport went very well. No problems whatsoever. We also got lucky with the timing to catch a bus to the city center, from where we hopped in a taxi for the ride the rest of the way to the ferry terminal.
My first impressions of Finland from the ride from the airport to the city: The climate and Geography are very similar to Upper Michigan. The people look the same as well, and the only off part is that everyone is speaking Finnish. Were it not for the difference in Language it would be hard to tell the difference between the two places. Helsinki itself seems like a nice city. Not crowded or congested like the cities in Japan. Finnish people like to drink! As soon as the grocery store on the ferry opened it was mobbed by people buying beer (and vodka!) by the case! I am a bit overwhelmed by all the blond people here.
We exchanged $200 for Estonian Kroon on the ship so we will have money to pay for a bus and/or taxi to take us to our hotel when we arrive in Tallinn at 10 pm.
Caught a a taxi from the ferry port to the hotel and checked in. The hotel is right in the heart of the odl city (score!) and our room is up on the fifth (top) floor. Great view, and very spacious.