Mä ostin maastopolkupyörä

Hi friends

There was an error in the title of the first travel post. I was going to entitle it Minä saavuin Suomeen ( = “I arrived in Finland”) yet decided to change the personal pronoun to my name. In doing that I forgot to change the verb to a third-person singular inflection. Did anyone notice my error? (Aside from the Finns on this list 😉 .)

So I bought a second-hand mountain bike yesterday ( = maastopolkupyörä) for $200 CDN. Fortunately the vendor said I could sell it back to him after three weeks. It is a woman’s bike, but that does not matter. A bike is a bike, and all the bike shops I walked to yesterday had only kids’ mountain bikes for sale that were second-hand. If I wanted a men’s mountain bike I would have had to buy it new. Fortunately the bike is white, which will make it easier to spot in the dark.

It is almost completely dark by 4 p.m. The bike lanes are unfortunately not maintained and are icy. Not to worry my mother, but I have already taken a spill off my bike. It obviously can’t matter to me much since I was more concerned whether or not my pants were ruined versus my knee. (My pants have no new holes thank goodness.) I will refrain from the bike paths and ride on the ice-free road now. I have already ridden on the road and I feel secure there. I am used to winter road riding in Mississauga, Ontario, and the roads are always ice- and snow-free. They are the same in Helsinki, and I only risk toppling over again if I stick to the slippery Helsinki bike paths.

I went shopping for books and postcards yesterday, and wrote two cards. At my home-away-from-home, the Posti (post office) I bought more stamps, and bought many varieties to ensure that not one of the postcards I send will have the same stamp. I am using some of the stamps I had left over from summer 2000, and am sending those stamps to people who were not on my postcard list at that time. New stamps have euro denominations. It costs 3,50 markkaa or 60 euros to mail a postcard to Canada/US.

The euro coinage is doing my head in. Each country issues its own coinage, and already I have received euro coins from Germany and other places. The smaller Finnish euro coins have the lion on one side, and when I saw a euro coin with the Brandenburg gate on one side I thought “What gives?”. There are euro posters in every shop and at Akateeminen Kirjakauppa, an enormous bookstore, I took a free pocket-sized card that helps make the conversion easier. There are many new books that I have seen and priced, and I thank my Scrabble friend John Chew for the suggestion he made to me just before I left Finland in August 2000: bring an empty bag with you! Thus when I packed for this trip, I brought my suitcase, full of clothes and things, plus an empty bag that I had to check in. Now I will have room to cart home all the books, Finnish coffee, and Lapin Kulta (or Koff or Karhu) Finnish beer.

Today I check out the bus schedule at the main bus terminal, and then call the places waaaaaay up north to let them know when to expect me. My friend Arto, with whom I’m staying in Helsinki, has kindly allowed me to make my calls from his office. I have permission to call from there, and I will happily accept his offer since my alternative is to call from a phone booth. Arto does not have a phone (only a cell) and I would much prefer to make my bookings from a warm office than from a pay phone where I’ll always have to worry about being cut off prematurely.

Since I toppled off my bike yesterday, I did not go out dancing, but I will tonight.

More to come. Check your mailbox! I received nine messages when I logged in today. Thanks very much for your mails!

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