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Helsinki, Finland

As today was a public holiday, there was absolutely no traffic on the roads and we easily found a car park one kilometre out from the city centre. It was after lunch before we ventured into the city, and as we both wanted to see different things we headed in our own directions. I strolled along the beach, past a few impressive-looking buildings and monuments, then up to an underground church. It was situated under a small mound in the middle of a large residential round-a-bout, which seemed like an odd spot to build a church. Of course it was closed today so I have no idea what it looked like inside. The Olympic Stadium was also closed (for renovations), which was disappointing as I was hoping to climb its tower for views over the city.

I met Danny back at the car (he hadn't done anything exciting in Helsinki either) to find him trying to make yo-yo biscuits for me (one of my favourites). Unfortunately they turned out a little flat, but they tasted so amazing that we ate the whole lot. We have zero self-control.

 

Danny had read about a midsummer party that was happening tonight on one of the islands off the coast. We drove to the beach from where we could see the island in the distance, and filled in time while we waited for the party to start. Eventually a few groups of people began turning up, and after a while we could hear folk music and see bonfires across the water. At about 10:30-11 p.m. most people started to leave - we weren't sure if that was it or if some people were just getting bored. As there didn't seem to be much going on, we gave up on the party and left to find a place to sleep tonight. Earlier in the day I spotted a few campervans parked at the Olympic Stadium, which offered 24 hour parking, so we headed there and joined fellow campervaners for the night.  

We woke to the sound of rain, which we listened to as we lay in bed. It didn't seem to want to stop, which meant we didn't want to get up. We then discovered it was ridiculously early so went back to sleep and woke up at 10 a.m. to blue skies. The benefits of getting up late...

After catching the tram into town we split up so Danny could peruse the markets (which turned out to be shut for the holiday) and I could explore the inside of underground church. It was small but modern, except for the walls that were formed by rock. It was pretty cool, the only downer being the seven busloads of tourists also visiting the church at the same time. It didn't really feel like a church when there were hundreds of people running around taking photos.

Next I tried to visit an art gallery, which I found was also closed for the holiday. It turned out that nearly everything was closed today. So instead I wandered around the harbour and checked out the tourist shops. I managed to find stubby holders in one store, the first I had seen in Europe, but they were fairly lame. The tourist office offered free internet, so I wasted some time there before finally meeting up with Danny again. We stopped in at a huge white church, which looked amazing on the outside but the inside was extremely ordinary. Our final stop was another massive cathedral topped with gold onions (in the Russian style) but we weren't allowed inside this one. These public holidays were infuriating. 

Earlier in the day we saw an advertisement for a Foo Fighters concert tomorrow night, so we headed back to the free internet to find out more about it. We were planning to leave Finland tomorrow but how could we pass up the Foo Fighters while we were in the same city at the same time? Without much thought we pressed the 'buy now' button and secured tickets, excited to be seeing a band we had admired so much over the years.

We luckily found the only supermarket that was open today, which gave us everything we needed for a pizza and cider/beer dinner. To walk off a few of the calories we wandered around the area and came across an amusement park. Entry was free, so we walked in and soaked up the carnival atmosphere. I enviously watched everyone enjoying the rides; I was too full from the pizza to go on them myself. Danny felt sick just looking at them.  

Today was pretty hectic. The first thing we did was exchange all of our empty bottles and cans for supermarket credit and bought some cheap food (it's such a good idea). We then caught a tram into town to pick up our tickets for the Foo Fighters from the ticket office. The office was closed. We didn't really know what to do, as they only had one office in town and we selected the "pick up" option online. So we walked to the tourist office to use to internet to see if there was any other way of claiming our tickets. Their website and the email confirmation didn't offer any suggestions. They did provide a phone number though, so we asked at the tourist office where a public payphone was. It was back at the train station, where we had just walked from. We returned to the train station to use the phone but for some reason it didn't like the phone number, no matter how many variations of the number we made. We checked the number online again and we definitely had written it down correctly. In the end we decided to make our way to the venue to see if anyone could assist us.

 

One tram ride and a 20 minute walk later (thankfully following signs labelled "concert") we found the venue. As it was an outdoor gig there were makeshift tents set up everywhere and nothing advertised the ticketing company. The general information booth wasn't manned. We asked security if they could help us out and they said someone should be around in about an hour when the gates open. We decided to go back to the van and come back tonight, hoping that it would all work out.

I went to the supermarket to pick up food for dinner and asked Danny if he wanted anything. His only request: a one litre can of beer. I don't know whether he was happier about the massive can of beer or going to Foo Fighters tonight. I swear the can only lasted 15 minutes – he inhaled it. He's keeping the can as a souvenir.

Back to the concert. This time there was someone in the info tent but she seemed pretty vague on what to do. She told us there was someone from the ticketing agency inside the ground, which didn't help us because we couldn't get inside the ground without the ticket. We lined up anyway and explained our situation at the gate. Luckily there was someone standing nearby from the ticketing agency, who pulled us over to a computer and searched for our details. Ten minutes later she said that it "should be okay" and we could enter. Relief. 

Thankfully, after all that stress, the gig was fantastic. There were tens of thousands of people there so we couldn't get close to the stage but it didn't matter. The great thing was that the main stage area was partitioned off and there was no smoking or drinking allowed in that area, so we didn't have idiots spilling beer all over us or smoking in our faces. Fosters were the sponsor of the event and it was strange to see Fosters cans everywhere. They didn't seem to hate it over here like Australians do. The support act were a Scottish band, Biffy Clyro, who were also incredible. Being the middle of summer it was light the entire time, and an amazing sunset formed in the sky behind the stage. We sang, screamed and jumped around with the rest of the Finnish fans, with many of their older songs taking me back to my high school days. It was easily one of the best concerts we had ever attended. 

 

It took us a while to get home, as we missed the last tram by 10 minutes. Luckily our car was only about three kilometres away along the tram line. After a memorable night like this one, and pumped full of adrenaline, we didn't mind the walk.