red houses galore
the scenic picture that most associate with historic Porvoo.
I thought it'd be a great experience to take the ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki. Instead of being just a means of transportation, this ferry service has become a mini-vacation of sorts for many Europeans with many options for the traveller including bars, buffet restaurants and of course, shopping. Through this, I''ve managed to encounter a group of Europeans that I would not normally have encountered on the streets of the cities I've been visiting. The vacationers (mostly senior citizens or middle aged folk) stock up on duty-free booze like it was going out of style tomorrow. The duty free alcohol section took up about half the store and offered everything from wine to spirits to of course, vodka. Perhaps its like this on every cruise, but having never been on a north american one, I can only guess.
I had never heard of Eurovision until I decided to go to Finland as I realized after booking my tickets that I had the great fortune/misfortune of coming during the exact time of Eurovision. What is it exactly? I guess the best way to describe it is like American Idol/Canadian Idol but with each European country (and including Israel for
some reason) sending a contestant to participate. The winner of last year's contest holds this year's and Finland had the great fortune of having their contestant, Lordi a gruesome mask wearing death metal band win last years. Apparently, according to an article written by my friend Sean, he refers to himself as Äthe unholy overlord of tremors and "the bastard son of a thousand megalomaniacs". One can only hope. Good things have come about due to Eurovision... for instance Abba. Where would Madonna be on her latest album without them. The contest also is supposed to foster understanding between the European countries. Eurovision craze has taken over Helsinki as all of the town squares have something to do with Eurovision be it television screens blasting strange music videos of booths set up encouraging you to visit Lithuania or Portugal.
Wanting to get away from the Eurovision craze, I immediately exited the city hours after I arrived, destination Porvoo. It was a charming little medieval town about 50 km away from Helsinki known for its artists and designers. The town has a trademark of wooden houses painted red overlooking the river. Apparently the red colored houses originated in the 18th
century when red ochre paint aws used to paint the shore houses in honour of Knig Gustav III's arrival from Sweden.
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