A Life in the Slow Lane

Finland, Finland, Finland, the country where I want to be*

Before I move on to today’s events, I told you yesterday about the ultimate monster motorhome which had arrived on our campsite. After I finished the post I nipped out and got a photo for you.

That’s what you call a motorhome, but I don’t fancy driving it through villages in Greece!!

This morning we got Basil ship shape and Bristol fashion ready for his big maritime adventure: the ferry to Helsinki. Our site was once again inundated with a Dutch touring group, which are the motorhoming equivalent of a swarm of locusts, sucking the land dry and interfering with everyone else’s lives as they move, en masse, from place to place. We were ready to move, but Sarah was on the loo, when I saw the swarm start to move towards the water refilling and emptying point. Not wanting to be delayed by a queue of 30 Dutchmen, I yelled to Sarah that I was going to join the queue, whether she was ready or not. So we set off across the campsite with Sarah still seated on the throne. This manoeuvre is not recommended but caused no harm in this case. In fact it saved us a lot of time by getting in the queue early.

Once Basil was filled and emptied we headed off into Tallinn to Terminal D for our 12.30 ferry with Tallink. Boarding formalities were minimal and after a short queue we were parked as the first vehicle by the stern door, which looked as if we would be first out. Result.

Basil waits for his big maritime adventure

We had been forced to book a special dog friendly cabin as a condition of taking Mabel and Melek, so we quickly found our very standard but clean cabin complete with wipe clean floors, and took up residence.

Sarah and I took it in turns to tour the ship, which was enormous. One entire deck was given over to dozens of shops, including two airport size duty frees and another deck had about 7 restaurants on it, including an Italian and a pub. Both floors were covered in gambling machines, presumably a major source of income.

Our ferry

On my exploration I came across a Finn sitting in the foyer, in full view of members of staff, with a dog. I asked him why he didn’t have a special cabin. He told me he did the route often and simply didn’t tell anyone about his dog when he booked his ticket. He then just took the dog on board and nobody had ever questioned him. He said I was the first person who had ever asked him. So a piece of advice for anyone taking this ferry and possessing a certain amount of brass neck: save yourselves over €100 by simply ignoring the ferry rules about dogs. Don’t buy a ticket for them and just blag it. You know it makes sense!

We arrived in Helsinki after the allotted three and a half hours after a very smooth crossing. Basil did indeed have the honour of being first off the boat, a first for us. Border formalities were non existent so another €50 wasted getting the dogs wormed. We honest citizens are mugs!

SatNav, as usual, took us through the tourist heart of Helsinki, which we recognised from our visit two years ago and so our thirty mile journey to Porvoo took two hours. Sarah jumped out for a quick shop at LIDL and was shocked by the prices. €2 for a bag of salad!!

We then scouted a wildcamping spot I had found on Park4Night, one of my favourite wildcamping apps, but there were roadworks being carried out on the parking area. Luckily we had spied a better place on the way into Porvoo. So we are parked on an empty gravel car park (60.394208, 25.644688), next to some lovely woods and only about half a kilometre outside the supposedly pretty old town of Porvoo, which we will explore tomorrow.

Basil’s wild camping spot for the night.

On the Basil service front, I have made some progress today. A Helsinki dealer has at least contacted me, but he hasn’t sorted anything out yet. Another dealer in the north of Finland had emailed me to say he will get back to me tomorrow. So fingers are crossed.

* Today’s title comes from the Monty Python song, the first verse of which goes

Finland, Finland, Finland.

The country where I want to be,

Pony trekking or camping,

Or just watching TV,

Finland, Finland, Finland.

It’s the country for me.

I’m afraid Sarah and I have been childishly singing the first verse for the past couple of days. Anyone wanting to hear Michael Palin sing the whole song click here.