A Travellerspoint blog


Picking wild mushrooms

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large_5550_14718916751561.jpgSami and Yanni take me mushroom picking.
Today was my day for mushroom picking with my old friend from Yemen days, Sami. The weather was wet. Sami wasn’t free till early afternoon as he had doctor’s appointment. When the rain eased i wandered out back to Market Square and visited Market Hall which I had missed yesterday. It wasn’t a true market place any more but more cafe/deli style outlets.

The pricing there was a little more expensive than New Zealand and with everything else I had seen I concluded that Helsinki can be about the same cost-wise as New Zealand if one was careful, but typically more expensive. However, for some things like high-end restaurants, the Euro went as far as an NZD which meant that it would be 50% more.

I met Sami around 1300 at the Stockmann department store and took the metro out of town to meet his friend Yanni who had a car.large_5550_1471891667676.jpgThe chanterelle is quite a highly sought-after mushroom. I saw them quite a lot in Baltic markets.We drove into the countryside and then parked up and walked into the forest.

The damp loose forest floor comprising of dirt and decomposing leaves, combined with the summer warmth and autumn rain had caused a variety of mushrooms to sprout. I didn’t know the names of all of them but neither did them. They appeared to prize the Yellow Chantarelle, Black Trumpet and Porcini but settled for a lot of others that they knew were not poisonous.

We saw some moose (elk) droppings and insects associated with these beasts but the actual animals proved more elusive.

We returned to Yanni’s place and cooked up the Porcini and nameless ones. To appreciate the delicate flavours, they were just stir fried with a little salt and pepper. The mushrooms made a good accompaniment to the spaghetti bolognaise. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to savour the Chantarelle and Trumpet.

Sami and I walked back to the metro to get back to town. It was a short but sweet reunion; I think it had been 8 years since we were hostel-mates next door to each other in Sana’a, Yemen.

Unfortunately I had a bad headache brewing. I think the mushroom-hunting involved looking downwards a little too much which put my neck in an uncomfortable position. Fortunately I managed to fell asleep and woke up in the morning completely fine.


Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Finland Comments (0)

Small hiccup that could have been much worse

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large_5550_14718914998131.jpgMarket Square.
I had tried to change my 1200 ferry to 1000 so I’d have a little extra time in Helsinki [Helsinki-travel-guide-950806]. As I had bought a very good promotional fare, the fare difference to pay on changing it was too huge so I left it. I walked to the ferry terminal about 1030. I didn’t want to set off too late even though check-in opens only 20 mins before the 1200 departure, just in case heavy rain delayed my walk.

I got to the terminal just before 1100 to see the TV monitor saying all departures cancelled but boat arriving at 1140. I clarified the situation and learnt that the Linda Line catamaran was coming from Helsinki but it wasn’t going back.

They lady at the counter rebooked me on to the Eckero Line’s big ferry leaving at the same time of 1200.large_5550_14718915025765.jpgHelsinki Cathedral on Senate Square.I had just just made the booking cut-off time of 1100 for the 1200 departure. I walked to Terminal A about 10 minutes away.

Fortunately it didn’t rain during the unsheltered walk and I boarded the Finlandia for the 2h30 crossing. The travel time is an hour longer than the catamaran so I’d be an hour late. This small hiccup could have been so much worse.

The big ship had no public bench or aircraft type seats. Only restaurant, cafe and ar style seating. I managed to stay put near a bar and did a lot of admin on my computer (with internet) until we were in the slightly choppy waters. Then

I couldn’t concentrate because I felt a little sick. It certainly didn’t look bad enough for the catamaran to be cancelled. It felt a little too long before I saw land and the sea became calmer as we approached Helsinki.large_5550_14718915057103.jpgOrthodox Cathedral.Google Maps didn’t give me the best public transport to my hostel, Diana Park, but my friend Sami fortunately WhatsApp’ed me the best route which was tram 6T.

My former dive buddy from Sipadan, Samu has just moved back from China a month ago and we were meeting up at 1700. That gave me a couple of hours to explore the city on my own. I walked to the Market Square and Senate Square nearby. The weather had turned from gloomy and cool to a glorious sunshine.

Samu turned up slightly late. As usual, he was thinking of too many things at one time. He offered me two options: go around Helsinki on Meeko (his brand of electric-powered scooter) or go to Suomenlinna [Suomenlinna-travel-guide-1310366] with his dog Peto. I opted for the former as I had the ABC syndrome (Another Bloody Church/Castle) already and that’s what we would see in Suomenlinna apparently.large_5550_14718915074544.jpgSwimming pool being built in the waters of Helsinki.

We dropped Peto with Samu’s mum and went to a parked van to unload two Meekos. He taught me how to ride it as as I had never been on a scooter, skateboard or snowboard it took a while before I enjoyed myself. We went to Loyly sauna for a drink which was located on a waterfront area, then some new business park area and finally returned to my area. We rode on the roads, footpaths and on many cycleways.

We still had plenty of time because of the long summer days so we picked up Peto and drove to Market Square to take the short ferry ride to Suomenlinna. Suomenlinna isn’t one island but six interconnected islands of six islands dotted with fortification, bunkers, cannons, homes and probably just one church.

We walked around some of the different islands and got some pretty good views. At one place, a huge ferry (cruiseliner size) passed between us and a very nearby island. It was quite a sight and I thought there was very little room for error.

It was around 2130 by the time we ate back on the mainland at Cafe No 9 under my hostel. Considering I only got to the hostel at 1500, I’ve had a very good look around Helsinki.


Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Finland Comments (0)

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