To Finland By Fartygets
In Swedish (or Finnish - lord knows I can't tell the difference), the word "cruise boat" translates to "fartygets". The result: signs like the one to the right, and an unending source of giggles for me.
I don't know what we're going to do - our return flight leaves from Moscow in a week. But it's time to leave Sweden; with a quick tour of Stockholm's biggest park, via tandem bicycle looking like a pair of gay meat-heads, we climbed on a cruise boat and were off to Finland. I'm sure we'll figure something out. That's what adventure is all about.
Side note: although we admittedly should have thought about Visas more than ten days before leaving, I'm going to go ahead and blame Russia for all this. I'm also going to go ahead and give myself a blank check to make fun of Russia as much as I want for the rest of the trip. After all, it was their unwillingness to work past noon on three consecutive weekdays that will be keeping our tourism money out of Russia. It's not like they can't use the rubles.
After a shockingly high amount of hassle (mostly having to do with our lack of Swedish), we landed ourselves a little room on a Stockholm-to-Helsinki cruise ship. I had pictured something more like a shrimp ferry, but suddenly there we were on this luxurious cruise boat where people were walking around on stilts and everything cost about a million dollars.
Things are really expensive in Sweden - it's $5 just to take the subway - but things are REALLY expensive on a Swedish cruise ship. It was $3 for a can of Coke out of a vending machine. Probably the worst of this was when Mark and I meandered into the uber-lux hot tub area, where the many hot tubs were tiered up multiple levels, including a penthouse hot tub that had a waterslide down to a lower hot tub. And to think we stayed in a 10-person hostel room two nights ago. Mark and I were settling down into the top tub when a Swedish cruise worker came up the stairs after us.
"You must pay me," she said in a deep Swedish accent.
"What, to use the hot tubs?" I said. "Isn't that included with the price of the ticket?"
"No, it is extra. You must pay me."
I had apparently forgotten the universal cruise policy of charging for everything, ever.
"How much is it?" The hot tub water felt really good, and might even be worth a couple Kronor.
"Eight Euro." I did the math quick in my head, and realized this was more than twelve dollars. Per person.
"Eight Euro? C'mon, we already paid all this money for the cruise. Can't you just let us stay in for a few minutes?"
"No, you must pay me. And he can't wear trousers." She pointed over to Mark, who was trying to climb into the hot tub in a pair of boxer briefs.
Worried that we had started spending money at an alarming rate, Mark and I opted not to shell out the $24 to sit in a hot tub for a few minutes. Instead, we returned to our room to pre-party with Vodka we had smuggled aboard.
The rest of the cruise was pretty much what you would expect from two drunken meatheads on an overpriced 14-hour cruise, except that the everything was in a new language, meaning that the people we met were especially wacky, including:
- A drunken Finnish farmer we played blackjack with who had tattoos of his four daughter's names on his right arm and a tattoo of a naked Hawaiian woman on his left arm.
- The 18-year-old Finnish girls on a day shopping trip to Stockholm, who came up to us at the "Fartygets Club," very impressed by "New York," where Mark lives, but hadn't heard of "Los Angeles," where I live. I told them it was near Hollywood.
- The 40-year-old, trainwreckedly drunken dude who everyone kept referring to as the "King of Finland," who kept creepily following around the 18-year-old Finnish girls.
- The 20-year-old Finnish guy who cornered me for thirty minutes telling me that he wanted to move to Canada and get a "yob," but that he didn't have any "yob skills," and he wanted to know if I had any "yob leads" in Canada. I'm not making fun of his accent, that's just how he pronounced it.
- At one point, we were drinking in a hallway with about 8 people who had followed us out of the Fartygets Club (including the King of Finland), and an elevator opened and six mid-twenties Finnish guys poured out and started singing the first two lines of the Swedish national anthem, continuously, apparently to make fun of it. This went on for about 15 minutes until two buff Swedish security guards came to kick us out to another hallway.
Here's a picture of the King of Finland, passed out the cruise ship hallway floor.
There ain't no party like a fartygets party.