Hello again. I am safely arrived in Mariehamn. Åcon 5 is due to start in a few hours. But I owe you a couple of days of blog posts, so let’s go back a day.
Otto, Paula and I drove to Turku yesterday afternoon. It is a holiday weekend in Finland, and the entire population of Helsinki appeared to be trying to leave the city. Thankfully Paula had some ideas about alternate routes. It only took us an hour to escape. Another car that left before us arrived after us.
We found Cat and Dmitri in Harald (where else). They had already been persuaded to try the tar ice cream. I got them onto cinnamon beer as well. I’m pleased to report that a branch of Harald will be opening in Helsinki soon, so all of the major Finncon venues are now covered.
I had perch in nettles for dinner. Perch have lots of little bones, but are otherwise lovely.
After dinner some of us repaired to the Cosmic Comics Cafe, a thoroughly geeky establishment funded by local comics creators. It has good beer too. But we couldn’t stay long as we needed to be up early to catch the ferry. I almost wrote “at the crack of dawn” then, but that would have been about 3:00am in Turku at this time of year.
There are two ferry services between Turku and Stockholm: Viking and Silja. We traveled on Silja, because Hanna works for them so arranging block bookings is nice and easy. Our ship was the MS Galaxy, which is a large ro-ro vessel. As with any such thing, it is a floating mechanism for relieving the resident humans of their money. There’s a casino, several bars, several restaurants, duty free shopping and so on. But it was very comfortable, and you didn’t need to spend money if you didn’t want to. Also, the lunch buffet was very good value – €12 for all you can eat.
Of course the usual ferry rules applied. There were plenty of young Swedes on board who had no intention of getting off in Turku. They were just there to drink themselves insensible for the best part of a day. Doubtless many of the young Finns who boarded with us were doing the same thing in the other direction.
Åland is a lengthy archipelago of small, granite islands that stretches out from Turku. It was foggy for much of the trip, but when we could see we were never out of sight of at least one island. It looked like a great place for a sailing holiday, or indeed for a pirate hideout. Aside from the more northerly vegetation, and the separation into islands, I found it very like Cornwall. Cat and Dmitri, of course, found it very like Maine.
I am now safely in the con hotel and listening to Test Match Special. Opening ceremonies are in 2.5 hours, and the main event of this evening is a trip to the local cinema for a special showing of Iron Sky. But first, a nap and a shower.
Oh, and the convention program is online here.