That’s the view out my hotel window as the sun rises over Oulu, Finland. I’m taking the weekend off. The project is going relatively well, normal clusterfuckery aside. I expect to wrap up the end of next week and be back in Saskatoon on Westjet’s last flight from Calgary Friday night.
I think I did very well choosing a hotel for my weekend excursion. As always my choice was primarily based on price – I just can’t help myself. However I did manage to land myself on water which connects fairly directly to the ocean.
I’ve heard about the European navaids being backwards c/w North America and yesterday I was able to confirm it within walking distance from my hotel. The photo above looks out toward the ocean so, as the tide returns, that red marker is on the left. In North America it is “red right returning” – over here it is clearly backwards.
That’s a fairly “shippy” looking boat tied to what appears to be transient moorage close to the central market here in Oulu. I walked over close to it but didn’t bother taking any more pictures. It looks to be a workboat conversion, probably 55 feet or so (OK – 16 metres), wooden planked and not in particularly good repair. Kind of like any number of boats we might see tied up in Cow Bay – not as bad as the ones we typically see anchored in the Bay. Actually this whole region kind of reminds me of an upscale version of Pender Harbour. It has a bunch of interconnected bays and harbours with roads, bridges and walking paths traversing the various bays.
The bike/walking paths is the big difference I notice everywhere here. On the research facility where I am staying they have numerous older bikes scattered about for free use. If you need to go somewhere you are just as likely to hop on a bike as to drive. The difference I see here is that bikes are simply transportation. On Vancouver Island bicycles are a lifestyle statement – they have to cost 1000’s of dollars and their riders have to wear high priced spandex outfits, and designer helmets of course. Over here I see young workers and grannies alike riding to work or to buy groceries on utilitarian bicycles. Many of them appear to be the bike that I learned to ride on – 26 inch balloon tires, single speed with coaster brakes. I’ve ridden a couple of bikes at the farm – one had a pretty decent coaster brake – the other not so much – but both of them were otherwise in really good repair despite likely being probably more than half as old as me and possibly close to my age. As I recall my first bicycle the coaster brake was the least reliable portion of it too.
Other than the abundance of bicycle paths and bicyclists the scenery could easily be northern Saskatchewan. My host told me that the forests were all pine but I’m not 100% sure he knew what he was talking about. There certainly appear to be pines but I think they also have fir and spruce. There’s more birch than you would see in northern SK but from a distance its hard to tell the birch here from what would be predominantly poplar at home. As I told my host, if I blindfolded and dropped him 20 miles north of Prince Albert I’m not sure he’d know he wasn’t at home when we first took the blindfold off.
Last night I treated myself to a very expensive meal in the hotel restaurant. My supper however may interfere with Santa Claus’s travel arrangements – I believe I ate Rudolph. He was very tasty. As soon as I saw reindeer wrapped in puff pastry on the menu I knew I had to try it.
This morning I went down for the included breakfast. Unlike the typical stale Cheerios and Special K that I would expect in North America I got treated to a buffet that would rival most hotel’s Sunday brunch menus – bacon and eggs, sausages, ham, baby spuds, salad bar, fruit bar, dessert bar, bread & sweets bar plus an amazing assortment of smoked/pickled fish and cheeses. I was able to select a huge platter of protein which is always my breakfast goal. They also make excellent coffee and tea.
Right now I’m enjoying a leisurely morning in a comfortable (albeit very small) hotel room. There’s not much selection on the TV menu and even less English language selection but its great to hear English news again. I’ve been listening to CBC Regina over the internet at the farm but its just not the same as TV news.