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Royale with Cheese

Summary of this entry:

  • I was unable to have lunch today
  • I’ve found out I know my way from Tapiola to Helsinki by bicycle without the need to use a map or the GPS
  • I’ve spent a bit more than 6 hours on trains
  • I got out of bed at 8 o’clock (ON A FREAKIN’ SATURDAY), and returned back at 22

Here we go:

Got out of bed at 8 o’clock (a little before that), without needing the alarm clock, because I was afraid I would get late at Helsinki. Got my super breakfast, as I always do when I’m about to go on a big ride (lots of cereals), oh btw, the hotel is filled with Japanese as it seems.

After the breakfast, I went outside to pick up my bike and head to Helsinki, where I had a train at 10:00 to Simpele. I’ve decided not to use the GPS, or indications to get to my destination, and lo and behold! I did it! I got at Helsinki’s train station about 1 hour earlier.

Now, here’s a tip for all you travelers on a foreign country. Always carry around a written paper with the place where you want to get to, or else people will simply not understand you, even though the correct pronunciation is pretty similar to your own. I’ve experienced this while buying a train ticket for me (43,30€) and my bike (9€). Luckily, I had the name Simpele written on my cellphone (I had a reminder with the hours of the train), and so the lady in the ticket office could understand where I was heading. She was also kind enough to write the number of the track on the ticket, and to explain me what the other numbers in there meant (carriage number, seat number, and number for the bike container).

The train station in Helsinki is very beautiful, img_5993.thumbnail.jpg img_5995.thumbnail.jpg and has lots of access doors, and some of them are even thought out for the people with bikes to get in (you don’t need to open any doors). I’ve also noticed that they have something similar to Portuguese’s Pendular (it was called Pendolini or something, yeah… it sounds Italian).

As I was one hour late, I got to see many trains come and go filled with Finnish people on cool looking trains img_5994.thumbnail.jpg

Anyways, after the train came in, I walked in with my bike on the assigned carriage (oddly enough, I was on the carriage 3, and my bicycle was in the position 333). There was in there this other guy, also trying to put his bike in place (he smelled like he was really drunk). They have this nice mechanism, where you use this kind of mechanical robot arm that pulls your bike up and leaves it secured on an upright position.

After having my bicycle secured, I tried to find my place, but first I saw someone from the train crew, and so I decided to confirm if I was in the right train, which I was. I then proceeded to ask, how could I tell that I have arrived at Simpele? He showed me this weird schedule with weird acronyms and some hours. And I was like… Well…. Ok…. How many stops till I get there? And so he started counting in Finnish! WTF? lol After he finished counting, I was nodding and stuff, but in my head I was VERY puzzled. Finally he said EIGHT. Well ok… So I proceeded to my seat.

I was on a 2 floor train carriage, and I was riding on the 2nd floor (w00t, or so I thought). You see, the thing about carriages with childish drawings on its side, is that VERY LIKELY it will have a playpen for kids, so if you want to get some sleep on a 3 hour ride, AVOID THIS CARRIAGES AT ALL COST. TRUST ME ON THIS ONE.

Despite from having kids running up and down the carriage, and screaming like savages, the ride was pretty pleasant . Just like the American couple seating behind me were saying, “it really is a smooth ride”. And it was! Very silent (apart from the kids), and really very smooth. Great trip, with really awesome scenery. From the city center, to the big forests, and going across some lakes. Cool stuff indeed.

Ohhhh And you know my concern about knowing when I was getting to the right stop? NO NEED. The carriage had this monitors, with the hour/speed of the train (an average of about 130 Km/h I would say), that would show the name of the station when we were close enough, in Finnish, Swedish and English (a lady would also speak with this kind of information).

When I got to the Simpele train station img_5997.thumbnail.jpg , it just struck me. This bloody thing is deserted! It can be a good thing, because it really was peaceful, but I was really hungry, and needed to get something to eat (it was 13h by now it was a 300Km ride), so I headed to the city center. After some peddling, I arrived at what it seemed to be the city center, and LO AND BEHOLD! A “Restaurant”! Cool!

I went into the restaurant, which to be quite blunt, looked more like a bar, and asked the guy in there, if I could have lunch (since they eat earlier). At first, he was having trouble understanding what I was saying, but then when he did (or thought he did), he just said no. *shrug* So….. No lunch in a restaurant…. Cool…. I will just look for the lake, which I eventually found img_6000.thumbnail.jpg (there was this old couple in there sun bathing). A funny thing happened while I was returning from the lake. This house had the music really loud, and they were listening to a music by CSS (Cansei de Ser Sexy, a Brazilian group). Who would’ve guessed? Cool.

After having found the lake, and knowing that my train back to Helsinki was at 16:40, and since there wasn’t nothing to see in the “city” center, I decided to get as close as I could get to Mother Russia!

While trying to find something that would make me believe to be closer to the Russian border, I’ve found probably the most incredible landscape, that I have ever seen. Do you know those pretty sceneries that eventually show up as wallpapers on your desktop? This was where they were shot. I’m pretty sure of it img_6005.thumbnail.jpg . I will eventually post some cool photos of this landscape, this is just a crappy sample ;-P.

Anyways, after going on for a little while, peddling, I’ve found this sign:


The English bit had this written:


So I was getting pretty close ;-P

Oddly enough, after these warnings, there was a beautiful forest (really awesome), with a very pretty river, but with some scary sceneries, such as this one:


And let’s not forget this small detail: img_6014.thumbnail.jpg .

I was starting to feel a bit uncomfortable, because there were all these bugs around me, and some mosquitoes actually got me (I now believe, I am in the possession of radioactive powers (I killed one of the mosquitoes, and it was really filled with blood)), so I eventually got out of that place, and started to look for the border again.

You can see on the following picture one of the old outposts I saw, with the warning sign up ahead:


And to prove you, I was really ON THE BORDER, check this out:

img_6016.thumbnail.jpg .

So yeah, I was close to getting shot at! (I suppose, I wasn’t, but I’m sticking to this story to impress the girls ;-P). After this warning sign, I got back to the train station.

While waiting for the train (and talking to my father on the phone, ensuring him that I wasn’t hurt from the bike accident I had yesterday), I was getting wary because there was no ticket office, and I remembered reading somewhere, that if you would come aboard without a ticket, you would have to pay a fine of 80€ (I didn’t had that much money for the ticket+fine). Eventually an old lady showed at the station, but unfortunately she didn’t speak any English AT ALL, and so as I was mimickin, and trying to use very simple English words, as she was speaking in Finnish with me, which was very helpful. She really got me scared when she started saying “Ni” to my bicycle, and pointing to a phone number, which I guess was where she had bought her ticket.

Finally the train arrived, and one of the train crew man, came to me, and escorted me to the right carriage, before the train left. I tried to explain him my situation, but his English wasn’t that strong either. Finally, I showed him my ticket to get to Simpele from Helsinki, and something clicked in his mind, and so he sold me a ticket back to Helsinki (normal price). After getting the ticket, I asked him if there was a bar, or a restaurant carriage, to which he replied no (don’t forget I only have had breakfast). So, with my stomach empty, I chose a seat, and tried to get some rest (now finally without kids running).

You could notice that it was Saturday, because you could see all the teenagers getting in on the train to go to Helsinki to go to some party (as they apparently always do on Saturday nights).

What really bothered me, was when we were about 2 stations from Helsinki, the lady that announces the next stations, said that there was a BAR carriage. GOD DAMN IT!!”#$”!”#%#$%#$%#$&%&(/&/()&/ WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PEOPLE? I AM STARVING! Anyways, I thought I would hang on for a while longer, and eat in Helsinki in Pizza Hut (hey… I was missing Pizza Hut).

Now, my experience with Pizza Hut can be described with the following clip from Pulp Fiction:

YouTube Preview Image

JULES: Ok… So… Tell me again about the hash bars.
VINCENT: Ok, what do you want to know?
JULES: Hash is legal there, right?
VINCENT: Yeah, it’s legal, but is ain’t a hundred percent legal. I mean you can’t walk into a restaurant, roll a joint, and start puffin’ away.
I mean, they want you to smoke in your home or certain designated places.
JULES: And those are the hash bars?
VINCENT: Yeah, it breaks down like this: it’s legal to buy it, it’s legal to own it and, if you’re the proprietor of a hash bar, it’s legal to sell it.
It’s legal to carry it, but that doesn’t matter ’cause — get a load of this, alright — if you get stopped by a cop in Amsterdam, it’s illegal for them to search you.
I mean, that’s a right cops in Amsterdam don’t have.
JULES: Oh man, I’m going, that’s all there is to it. I’m fucking going.
VINCENT: You know baby, you’re digging the most.
VINCENT: But do you know what the funniest thing about Europe is?
JULES: What?
VINCENT: It’s the little differences. I mean they got the same shit over there that they got here, but it’s just, just there it’s a little different.
JULES: Example.
VINCENT: Alright, well you can walk into a movie theater in Amsterdam and buy a beer.
And, I don’t mean just like a paper cup, I’m talking about a glass of beer. And, in Paris, you can buy a beer in McDonald’s. You know what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?
JULES: They don’t call it a Quarter Pounder with Cheese?
VINCENT: No, man, they got the metric system, they don’t know what the fuck a Quarter Pounder is.
JULES: What do they call it?
VINCENT: They call it a Royal with Cheese.
JULES: Royal with Cheese.
VINCENT: That’s right.
JULES: What do they call a Big Mac?
VINCENT: Big Mac’s a Big Mac, but they call it Le Big Mac.
JULES: Le Big Mac. What do they call a Whopper?
VINCENT: I don’t know. I didn’t go into Burger King.
VINCENT: But you know what they put on french fries in Holland instead of ketchup?
JULES: What?
VINCENT: Mayonnaise.
JULES: Goddamn!
VINCENT: I seen ’em do it man, they fuckin’ drown ’em in that shit.

I also have my own version of this, that I thought of while having diner at Pizza Hut:


JULES: Ok… So… Tell me again about Finland.
VINCENT: Ok, what do you want to know?
JULES: Riding is really cool there, right?
VINCENT: Yeah, it’s really cool, you have roads all over the place, near main roads, or inside forests, and you always have directions telling you how to get where.
JULES: And what about the car bastards?
VINCENT: Yeah, it breaks down like this: Even if you are like 10 meters from a crosswalk, they will stop for you to pass.
JULES: Oh man, I’m going, that’s all there is to it. I’m fucking going.
VINCENT: You know baby, you’re digging the most.
VINCENT: But do you know what the funniest thing about Finland is?
JULES: What?
VINCENT: It’s the little differences. I mean they got the same shit over there that they got here, but it’s just, just there it’s a little different.
JULES: Example.
VINCENT: Alright, well you can walk into a Pizza Hut, and get garlic bread, no matter what’s the topping all for the same price, and I don’t mean just that crappy basic one.
Even supreme costs the same. And if you ask for a Pepsi, you’ll get 0.5 Liters of it! Not 0.3 or some shitty stuff like that. And do you know how they call our icecreams Olá?
JULES: They don’t call it Olá?
VINCENT: No, man, they speak Finnish, they don’t know what the fuck Olá is.
JULES: What do they call it?
VINCENT: They call it GB Glace.
JULES: Gb Glace.
VINCENT: That’s right.
JULES: What do they call a Magnum?
VINCENT: Magnum is a Magnum.
JULES: What do they call a Calipo?
VINCENT: I don’t know. I didn’t tried that shit.
VINCENT: But you know what they put on most of the stuff?
JULES: What?
VINCENT: Hot sauce.
JULES: Goddamn!
VINCENT: I seen ’em do it man, they fuckin’ drown ’em in that shit, it must be because they get cold and stuff.


Ps.: I only have the GPS tracking from Tapiola to the train station, so I’m not posting that. You can see from the following image where Simpele is (the bright yellow line is the border with Russia), and where is the train station, and my hotel.






posted by André Lemos in Finland,Trips and have Comment (1)

One Response to “Royale with Cheese”

  1. miguel21op says:

    You should have taken that axe as a souvenir. Besides I bet it would be very useful to make yourself understood by those Finish on that bar odyssey 😉

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