Day 18 – Thursday 21st July (Haikko, Helsinki, Travemünde, Lübeck)
Moose count = Nope. Nada. Zilch. What moose? There are no moose! Finland has no moose! Finland needs no moose!
With the ferry scheduled for 15:00 latest check in there wasn’t a great deal of time to achieve anything much. We “scientifically” packed the car, seemingly with far more luggage than we’d started with and then had a final breakfast at the Manor, this time in the other dining room, before settling our bill, and checking out with some regret. Once resolved to going home we headed back to Espoo, to have a final lunch at Pertti and Riita’s before driving to the ferry terminal, half an hour from there.
On the way we looked out for a supermarket to buy sweets to take home for the people we work with (licorice for the brave, toffees and chocolates for the not-so-brave), edible presents for our friend who looked after the house and garden for us while we were away, and grill sausages for us. All we could managed was a Lidl, which seem to be prevalent in Finland (Aldi are not as far as we could tell and anyway we needed proper Finnish products so Lidl it would have to be in the absence of KMarket or any other Finnish chain), but it wasn’t a problem and we found Fazer chocolates, and 10 different flavours of grilli sausages. It was quite impressive really.
Despite his claims that “the staff had taken the day off” (Riita was out playing golf) we had a good lunch of cold meats and cheese and Karelian pastries and a long, rambling conversation before we realised we really needed to set off if we were going to make it in good time. We’d aimed for 14:30 as that meant they couldn’t keep us hanging about too long, at least not if they wanted to get several hundred cars stashed safely on board before the scheduled sailing time of 17:00, and arrived bang on time. And by 15:00 we were on board and ensconced in our suite. We’d decided that as there would be a lot of driving at the other end we’d make ourselves as comfortable as possible.
The suite fitted the bill, with lots of space, a sitting area, a massive bathroom, a proper bed not bunks, all meals included and a bottle of fizz and a plate of macarons waiting for us on arrival, the bottle sitting in an ice bucket ready-chilled.
I was pretty chilled too by then and so we lazed around catching up on the last Grand Prix on catch up TV, drinking prosecco and cocktails and taking it easy. We’d be on there until 21:30 the following day so there was no point rushing around.
Dinner was pretty much the same as it had been on the way out but with added itchy-hand case child, one of whom was being allowed to simply run riot round the restaurant and the buffet tables. The parents showed no interest, even when the little mite disappeared for ages, which struck me as remarkably stupid. Small child, open decks, Baltic Sea, what could possibly go wrong? For that matter hot food, sharp knives, people not looking where they’re going, three-year old. Is it just me or is that a strikingly lethal combination? I really do think some people are too stupid to be allowed to breed. Also, allowing her brother to run round the table area shrieking his head off and just smiling benignly? No. Just no.
That annoyance aside, we basked in the sunshine as we watched the sea slip by and eventually retreated to our suite with the remains of the wine we’d ordered in preference to the stuff in the taps. Finnlines managed to make that a bit of a drama too, when the bottle they passed me was decidedly warm for a white wine. When I asked if I could get some ice the response was decidedly sniffy. I had to leave the restaurant and go to the bar to get ice, a complete contrast to Haikko Manor. Oh, and there was moose on my plate but I’m not counting it! We weren’t in Finland anymore after all.
A late brunch the following day was followed by some time reading in the sun on the open deck, reorganising the bags for the final two hotel nights, and feeding destinations into the SatNav for the next part of the journey. A small shopping trip for Minttu and other Finnish goodies followed, the duty-free shop having apparently completely changed its stock in the intervening two weeks! Good job we picked up the moose fridge magnet on the way out is all I can say!
An early dinner was in order and after that we disembarked promptly, but not before we’d established that there was a lot going on in Travemünde and along the river Trave that night. It was heaving with music going on down by the seafront, people walking everywhere, yachts of every shape and size imaginable. Later we would discover it was Travemünde Sailing Week and most of northern Germany seemed to be on holiday there.The latter fact would prove significant in the morning, though we didn’t know that now.
We were off the boat promptly and 20 minutes later pulled up at our overnight stop, just down the road in Lübeck having been unable to book a room in Travemünde for reasons that now became obvious. The Lindenhof was a little hard to find, or rather the entrance to its car park was, and with an unseasonal heatwave raging the room was much too hot. The suggestion that we could go to the electrical store over the road and buy a fan in the morning was probably not the most helpful suggestion anyone’s ever made to me, but eventually, after a cooling beer, we managed to get off to sleep.