Thursday, 6 September 2012

Mauritz in Bulgaria - First impressions

I'm fairly well travelled, I've been around my own country as far north as Dundee in Scotland, I've been to Helsinki in Finland several times, I lived on the Costa del sol in the south of Spain as a child and now I'm at the fourth corner of Europe; Varna, Bulgaria, the eastern city on the Black Sea.

I had some preconceptions of this place from a friend I'd talked to years before who'd been several times: hordes of rabid dogs lined the streets tearing off limbs of the weary traveller and infecting them with insidious diseases and also that one pound sterling converted to a billion Bulgaria leva and a  poor Brit here could live like Julius Ceasar. I had a preconception of my own, that all of eastern Europe from Estonia to Bulgaria, was severely racist and that I, as a mixed race young man risked being lynched in the streets. I had this impression from word of mouth, news reports and general scaremongering.

A final source of misinformation was my dear Bulgarian girlfriend, the reason for my trip in the first place. My lady informed me that infastructure here isn't what it's like in "western countries" I could fall down a drain due to poor street lighting, It's highly likely I'd be mugged after nightfall and it's simply so boring here that she didn't know what I could possibly do while she worked.

Above is a mixture of lies and slander let's cross things off the list...
It's true there are a lot of stray dogs in Bulgaria but they really aren't that big of a deal, they're mostly pretty docile a few times they've been a bit more rowdy but then you just give them a wide berth and you're fine, I've heard they are a force to be reckoned with if they are in a group and it's night and you happen to be alone in a park but WHO DOES THAT?

I have less than no idea about currency conversion, I literally have negative knowledge on the subject, I don't just have a lack of understanding of it I have a misunderstanding of how it works, that said 40 pounds is about 97 Bulgarian leva but it's not like Japan or Korea where a hundred of the currency is enough to buy a can of coke, one lev will buy you a fairly big bag of crisp, a 500ml beer or some fruit, with ten to twenty leva you can buy a really nice meal in a nice restaurant including drinks so it's fair to say one can get by for a fairly long time with not that much money or one could live like a king for a shorter time.

Racism. Racism is never a nice thing to experience, being the mix of races that I am I can both fit in in almost every country and be accepted and on the other hand be shunned as not truly black and not truly white. I've experienced racism in some form in most countries I've been to including my home country, how it's phrased or the mentality behind racism is a different in different countries but discrimination especially overt or aggressive is in many ways the worst.(although the subtle, different, treatment becuase of your race or because you're not from the home nation in some countries can be pretty depressing too)

Thankfully I've not experienced any racism towards myself in Bulgaria at all, despite being the talkative, inquisitive man that I am, talking to all kinds of strangers in a friendly manner and exploring different parts of the city alone in the day or night. What I have experienced is very strong racism in plain sight against the Romani people the third largest demographic of Bulgaria, hatingly referred to as gypsies.

"Gypsies" are hated so much in this country and blamed, rightly or not, for many of Bulgaria's problems, "they're not educated" , "they're all thieves and rapists", "they reproduce like rabbits, begining at thirteen or fourteen and then selling the offspring into prostitution or sold to black market organ harvesters" , "they never pay their bills" .. and thus live in squalor. I don't think, in the two and half weeks I've been here I've heard a single positive thing about this race of people. I've seen a few of them on the streets but I haven't had much experience of them. It is the mortal fear of Bulgarians that in a few decades the Romani people will outnumber "good, strong and hardworking Bulgarians." Romani people are such a target for oppression here that they are apparently politicians favourite scapegoat for any problem allowing politicians, as usual, to divert political discourse away from the real problems of the nation. Because of my lack of personal experience I can't say what Roma's are really like perhaps in a few weeks I'll be able to give a better opinion.

A thing to note concerning race and racism in Bulgaria, at least in Varna is that it's not a particularly multi-racial place, the three largest groups in Bulgaria are of course the Bulgarians then the Turks who there is some historic angst against it's fair to say due to being subjugated by the Ottoman empire for five centuries and then there are the aforementioned Romani people, traditionally a nomadic race of people found all over Europe. Other than these 3 large groups and minute amounts of people from surrounding eastern European countries there really aren't many other races to be found here which seems to mean that Bulgarians don't have prejudices against others which is interesting because in many countries racism is created by the lack of knowledge of other races.

Addressing the final mistruth, infrastructure, perhaps public spending here isn't what it is in the "great" nations of the United Kingdom or Germany but I've not been crushed by falling building materials or falled down into a pit of lava just yet, sure road quality and pavement quality isn't amazing all the time, there are many potholes, some sides of the road are not paved or are worn away, public transport is patchy but it's functional enough to provide a decent quality of life.

CHARGE! ONWARDS YOUNG STALLION let's get to the fun stuff, the people, the weather, the food and of course the beer. 
Bulgarian people in my experience are very friendly, saying hello to strangers ("Zdrasti") in the streets, wishing shop staff a good evening ("priatna vecher") and thanking people ("blahgodaria") and apoligising for bumping into people in crowds or in other situations ("izvinete") have all gone exceedingly well, it embarrasses my girlfriend as it sometimes embarrasses my friends in Germany or the UK but we're all human and I've come all this way I think it's the least I can do while not being able to speak the language properly. I've been aqainted with a bunch of young guys playing basketball who were all friendly and thinking about it I really haven't had any negative experiences with people at all.

The weather -_- is way too hot for me!
I can't cope with 30-35c it's not as humid as it was in Japan, thank the heavens! but I still feel as lethargic and drained as I did in that country but it's thankfully cooled down to a more sensible 25-30 with more of a breeze from the sea but these kind of temperatures at the end of August what madness! I am the 
closest I've been to the equator in a long time though.

The food... my girlfriend is a vegetarian so that limits things traditional cuisine wise becuase Bulgaria's traditional food is apparently all about the layers of meat upon meat with a fish side dish and meat sauce to go with it. There are however many traditional salads and pastries that do not contain meat though the quantity of yogurt, milk, iconic "white cheese" and eggs in those and in all of Bulgarian food does make me wonder about the lives of the domestic animals.
Let me digress for a moment into a rant about cheese in this country, cheese that is white and is the traditional cheese of this area of the world is called "sirene" all other cheese that exists in the world such as yellow cheeses from so many other countries or blue cheese or cream cheese is not quite considered cheese here I'm not sure if it's becuase there isn't a real word for other types of cheeses in Bulgarian but it filters down into the whole mentality of cheese here only cheese that is white is cheese, all other cheese isn't cheese /end of rant

BEER :D ! One of my favourite topics to talk about in life and one of my favourite things in life is beer. I can and have talked about beer for many hours of my life perhaps even days at this point, it's birthed many a freindship or good conversation in my life so much so that I refer to "the international language of beer" quite a bit on my travels around the world, no matter where I go, no matter the country, people, especially men - though in some wonderful countries women -  in any country appreciate beer, they might drink the most awful watery, tasteless pondwater in existence but at least you can suffer together and have a good chat.

Beer in Bulgaria is pretty boring for a beer snob like me, I've tried all of the popularly available beer and it's mosly boring lagers with not much taste, most of them are owned by the massive global beer conglomerates Carlsberg and Inbev etc though I have heard that there are some microbreweries in Sofia (the capital city) so all hope is not lost and I'd bet there are microbreweries elsewhere in the country too. One very nice plus side to beer here however is that you can get Staropramen one of the premier Czech pilsners for the equivalent of less than 50 pence a bottle I've been drinking so much of this lovely beer that it's become average (poor me) and I'm "forced" to branch out to the worse boring lagers to make things interesting although the Bulgarian "Shumensko premium malt" beer is something a bit different from the average which can diversify things a bit.

And those are my first impressions of Bulgaria, I haven't been too active on the photography front just yet but I'll get on that in a future post. I'm planning a journey all across Bulgaria over the next two weeks which should provide many more interesting and in-depth impressions of the country in which I now reside.

Have a good day
("Priaten den") 

I was at a birthday party last night and experienced the biggest culture shock of my life, forget the extreme cultural differences of Japan and forget tiny naked male sauna's in Finland this shock was to a simple birthday tradition which is generally the exact opposite of the UK, 
We went for drinks at a cocktail bar and slowly as people left one by one until it was us and the birthday girl the birthday girl got up and went to pay for the whole evening which was a fair bit of money, it is normal in Bulgarian culture for the host to pay for everything and there is more emphasis on the guests to give
presents. Wheras in my experience in the UK, generally the best friends of the birthday person will pay for drinks or the meal. What's it like in your country or what's your experience about birthdays?

Thursday, 12 July 2012

A bouquet of inspiration

I was walking through the beautiful town of Wurzburg, South Germany, one day just a few weeks ago talking to two of my friends about a really inspirational video I'd watched. I informed them, before they'd seen the video itself that it's story was not a true one. I told them I'd one day give them a bunch of inspiring videos and not tell them which was the one I spoke of that day...

A glimpse of Wurzburg

First, above, there is a photo I took that day but below I'll begin with a video taken by my first Japanese friend Koji, taken when the Sakura trees blossomed in Tokyo this year.

Secondly I'll post a cover of the Radiohead song "Creep" sung by a Belgian girls choir, the original is sung by one man and it is full of passion but a choir of young girls singing the same words resonates with me much more and really fills me with emotion, all of their words coming together like a flock of birds flying in formation.

Third I'll post a Thai short film about life and rebirth, it really inspired me when I watched it and just watched it again. I think it's message is about really making the most of life and not having regret

Each Moment is the Universe from bruce thierry on Vimeo.

Next up is another Thai short about football, trying your hardest and persevering even when the odds are against you. The music and narration is catchy too :)

After that is a really moving animation called "The man who planted trees" it's longer (30 minutes) but absolutely brilliant and something I've watched a couple of times with different friends

The Man Who Planted Trees from Max Urai on Vimeo.

Moving away from video here's a link to a set of photographs by a Japanese photographer I really like. The set is from Yemen in 2008. Yemen is a country I'll almost definitely never visit, it's reputation is that it is incredibly dangerous, a training zone for terrorists and a very poor country. However this man's photos show a completely different side to the country, one of strength, beauty and happiness, they give us a glimpse into a part of the world most of us will never visit and that, I think, is the brilliance of photography

How about some text as well? I mean we're going through all kinds of inspiration so I'll link to two brilliant pieces of text which have really expanded my mind, first a short story by H.G.Wells, written in 1904 it's called "The country of the blind" It's about a mountaineer, climbing through some difficult cliffs when he falls into a valley completely inhabited by people with sunken eye sockets, a society that is completely blind. It's a fascinating look into how important sight is in society and how it affects language and thought.

The second text is a philosophical one about existence and life, it questions both

Finally I'll show you a non verbal film that I'm extremely excited to see called Samsara. It's a sequel to a film from 1992 called Baraka, also a non verbal film. By non-verbal I mean that there is no dialogue in either, there is no plot, there are no characters, it's not a drama but nor is it a documentary both films are simply documents of life on earth, they show brilliance, beauty, they show nature, humanity and animals. Baraka is one of my favourite films I implore people to seek it out and watch it, Samsara will be released publicly in a few months

And there you have it folks a selection of inspirational content, music, videos, text and images that might open your mind a little further, ponder a little about them all, life in all it's forms is a brilliant thing and we can make life better for ourselves and eachother why don't you strive towards something today? Why don't we help someone, make a stranger smile or be unusually generous be it a minuscule or major thing either action can be a great one.

Have a nice day!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

One of the best days - Part 1

Part 1

A few years ago I was going out with a Japanese girl. I met her while she was studying in the UK. She was the first Japanese person I'd been aware of meeting and talking to. Warm and friendly we got on well and continued to talk frequently after she went back to Japan and we slowly fell in love.

The UK and Japan are half the world apart but I got a plane to Helsinki and from there to Tokyo. I spent 3 fascinating weeks in Japan, it's a very different place to my home but with many similarities. We are both island nations at the edge of our continents, we are geographically and culturally quite different from our continental cousins. As a people we generally take a while to open up to strangers but once we do, we are friendly, talkative and loyal.

In the weeks that I was there my lass had to work at least a few times at her part time job and on one of those occasions her "oto-san" (Father) offered to take me somewhere interesting for the day. He, through her, gave me a choice: go to a traditional Japanese castle or go to a mountain.

My girlfriend's father was an amazing man, an icon of Japanese hard work, strength and honour. Solemn but wise, quiet but with a cheeky sense of humour. In his sixties this man left - and I'm certain still leaves - the house for work at about 5:30am, works hard all day at a strenuous job, arrives home five days a week at 10 or 11pm, has dinner with his family and then proceeds to do push ups, stretches and other exercise : what a man!

I've digressed quite a lot but some description had to be made. The choice was a mountain or a castle. I am and always have been absolutely terrified of heights but I timidly asked my then girlfriend "what does your dad want to do? whatever he prefers.. I'll do that". He's from a mountain region, Shirakawa, he loves the mountains and hiking!" she exclaimed while smiling *damn :|* , I thought, having some internal conflict born from abject fear and then quietly said "let's do that that then" my skin paling, imagining vertical climbing with rope harnesses and ice picks for the snowy peaks of the largest mountain ever.

On the big day my girlfriend and I had a delicious breakfast quite early and then she left for work, I told her I'd see her in the afterlife. Later on her father and I got into his car and started driving to Tsukuba-san the mountain on the border of the next prefecture. What I enjoy quite a lot in life is talking to people. Any type, any place, any culture, interests or race, every person is potentially really interesting. What I also enjoy is trying to communicate to people without a shared language or with very basic language. It reminds me of my childhood. I lived in Spain when I was 11 years old and didn't really learn Spanish, the Spanish kids didn't really speak English but we still got on great with our limited vocabularies, I extended this activity, with great enthusiasm to my adult life.

The drive to Tsukuba was full of simple comments and observations, we had the radio on and there was some American music he was rocking his head to "Anata-wa suki?" (you like?) I asked and he smiled and said something complicated which I could not possibly comprehend.

On the way I also saw a modified "Hachi-Roku", one of my favourite cars, the Toyota Corolla 86 which was and is one of the most popular cars for drifting on tracks and also illegally in the mountains. I was joyous to see a real one in Japan and everything about the modifications made my heart leap.

After driving for a while I saw - it - on the horizon, a big blue behemoth shooting out from the land, it got bigger and bigger until we were driving uphill, twisting and winding up the mountain like a snake. We arrived at about midday and looked up at the monster rising above us.

A cable car ascended to the summit to the left of the parking area and "oto-san" gave me a choice pointing to the cable car or to a dusty trail leading upwards. I waved and crossed my arms like one of those air traffic controllers for fighter jets raising my voice slightly and repeating "iie" , "iie" (no!) and beckoned towards the path. The man smiled, it was what he wanted to do too.

I'm a tall man - 6ft3 or 192cm - with long legs, I love to walk fast wherever I go, I started striding up the dusty steps with vigour "hayai!" (quick) her father said impressed with my speed but he motioned for me to slow down, to relax and to take the mountain with grace at a calmer pace.

We rose steadily up the mountain, going through shadowy forested areas with countless overhead branches with millions of tiny leaves leaving little spots of light on the path. Many of the sections of the path were quite gradual inclines but then there were also vertical areas where we had to take huge steps or climb onto large slabs of rock one after the other.

The Journey wasn't too taxing and I spent a lot of time taking photos, the scenery was glorious, the completely different types of plants, unique insects, fresh mountain air and getting to spend a day with this great man doing the manly act of conquering a mountain. Though from the mountains he rarely gets to go to them or to hike, having two daughters and a wife that would much rather stay in the Saitama lowlands that they call home than try and ascend a hill. I could clearly see that he was enjoying himself.

When we finally reached the top a traditional shrine greeted us as well as a congregation of Nihonjin (Japanese people) relaxing and gazing out across Ibaraki prefecture. We settled down at an empty spot and appreciated the view. I was amazed I'd made it to the top of a mountain without dying a horrible death-from-impact. I'd never hiked before that day on the 20th September 2009 what an experience it had been...

...but the day wasn't over.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

An Amazing day in Edinburgh

[An old diary entry which I put on Facebook a long time just reposting it here because I want to get back into writing and blogging and this might kick start me a bit]

==07:25 Sunday September 2010


I could just end the diary entry right there but I guess I'm expected to explain?

Expect a lot don't you?

Yesterday was a wicked day. As usual I had a blank mind of no expectations but wow, I experienced something wonderful.

Met Natalia and had a brief hug, she's an apprehensive, brief and slight - type hugger, a shame but not the end of the world.

(I've always wished to become of those charming, subtly overpowering huggers who squeeze their victims into a lovely, warm,

loving beat hug .. Alas I can dream...

We trotted out of Edinburgh Waverley with the usual smiles and laughs of disbelief and surprise of people meeting for the first time

in "reality" *

*It's not like chatting online is another plane of existence, separate from the world we live in the rest of the time but "real" and "online"

or rather "just online" are used so commonly in modern language.

We came back here to her stylish flat in the suburbs of Edinburgh, said hello to her hearty polish housemate Annya (Anna) and Nat made

tortillas with jam as if they were pancakes was a bit odd but was alright.

We went to the supermarket to get a few things for Annka*'s kid, who is ill at the moment. ( * -ka suffix is a sweetness multiplier in Poland for females ) It was nice just helping Natalia with the shopping I guess because it again grounded us in "reality"

Later on in the day the main attraction was Arthurs seat, the large hill/small mountain that overlooks the whole of Edinburgh.

As we all know I am absolutely terrified of heights.

There is zero percent possibility that I would have gone there on my own, it just wouldn't happen.

But of course with the big strong Natalia - who eats mountain wolves for breakfast and mugs burglars before lunch ANYTHING is


The slope up was of medium steepness for the first section, the path was also wide but soon enouh the nice, grounded, blocks of flats we passed earlier in the day could fit into two centimetres between outstretched fingers the path we walked on also closed to about 1.5m width. I began to moan and plead in fear "I'm really scared" "I don't like this!" "I would never do this!" I was really frightened.

Yes yes I know that my great fear is quite irrational but it is also very real, my mind begins playing out the hideous tumble down jagged rocks breaking my body into awful shapes like a child playing with a doll. I constantly can't stop thinking of the seconds of free-fall until the ultimate point of impact enlightens me as to what - if anything - happens after death.

As you can tell from my in-detail description, my mind and my fear is terrible.

BUT Natalia and I pushed on and kept going, the path changed at times it got steeper and there were stone-step areas. I liked these areas

they reminded me of Mt. Tsukuba, last year, in Japan. I could use my long legs to their full advantage and speed up the rocks but I couldn't go far because though Natalia vanquishes daemons and murders murderers she is actually a sweet little girl - literally - long blonde hair, a little cardigan wrapped round her with soft pale blue jeans and cute 'lil navy blue shoes.

Being the sweetie she actually is unlike the crime-fighting superhero I've described she can't climb like a pro. It created a funny dynamic actually. In vertical rock jumping sections I clearly enjoyed myself and sped ahead and wanted to go faster but then in any part that had a ledge, a visibly more possible way to fall-to-death then I was reduced to a fragile porcelain doll and started spouting stupid stuff but actually cracked out some great jokes.

Despite my terror, the views were stunning, it was an early summer's evening and the yellow sun was slowly setting, shining light over all the city below, when we go to the top we could see everything. The whole town laid out before us.

Had some sarnies, had a bit of rest at the summit amazed at what we'd done. There were two guys at the top, a Frenchmen and an American (this isn't a set up for a gag) debating working conditions and human rights of legal and illegal immigrants in America, France, Sweden and Europe compared to America. It would have been quite interesting but they sounded quite pretentious and a bit high and mighty. ....shame

... Later in the evening Natalia and I ended up at an amazing pub "The Doctors" on Forest road. It was a medium sized place with a good

atmosphere, traditional interior and great bears hahahaha BEARS! *BEERS, though if they had great bears in a pub in a pub running freely then It'd be marginally worse than any mountain.. It'd be worse than a bull in a china shop :D

Anyway, great beers, including the epic, epic CALEDONIAN 80!

...which to be honest is the real reason I came here, let's be honest; £40, 3 changes, a 4 hour journey with an early start all just to see a friend??? add some culture on top ..

PFFF your 'avin a laugh entchya!? 'ts all bout the booze ennit OI OI!

rofl I'm actually cracking myself up here, spent the last... (08:45) hour and a half remembering yesterday and how great it was, while I wait for Natalia to wake up (she just did \o/ )

...Caledonian though is more bitter than I remember it, still nice though. Just having a drink with Natalia with some good beer was really really nice, dreamt of doing that for literal years and FINALLY we could just chat face to face like that. It was really great!

........I could just written "Wow" though :D :D

-- Endless Laughter --


Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Loving Lyon

Last summer I had a revealing journey in my mothers homeland Suomi - Finland.
I intended to blog about it but found myself experiencing so much and never sitting down
to really write about it.

This summer It's France. Upon the invitation of a new french friend, Valentin, a very interesting and charismatic guy. I arrived about 9 days ago at Marseille, and every day since has been full of interesting and powerful experiences, I wanted to write and had many opportunities I could have taken to do so but I'm always seeking the next interesting thing over the next ridge.

I've been keeping a mini blog going on my Facebook, but for the multitude of different things that happen in a day, the new experiences and thoughts about this fine country, Facebook is inadequate.

So here I am, now in Lyon, in the centre-east of France meeting a friend of Valentin's, Thomas, who I met on my first day in Marseille. Lyon is a big city, twin rivers snaking their way through it splitting the old and historic part of town with the more contemporary area.

After I met Tom I bought a few Asian beers, since the Asian shops around here have a bit of a bigger selection than the UK, and beer in general is half the price, then I had one of the biggest kebabs I've ever had - all this was the standard preperation for a good night out.
Soon some of Toms friends came over with some vodka and some more beer, as is often the case I was in charge of the tunes, I chose Breathe by The Prodigy,[] to start off with, something that young people everywhere can enjoy.

We headed out to a club about 6 hours after I first arrived in town, I think my fastest yet for a foreign countries city. The club was an Ozzie bar on a boat on the river except like with most Irish pubs in foreign countries it was laughable how little like an Australian bar it was.. the usual pseudo authentic memorobilia, and wonderful wonderful Fosters the pisswater Australians don't drink but export to the world.

We had some white wine, wine something I'm starting to enjoy since being in France yet something I hated every time I tried it previous. And then I heard something nice, some fatboy slim coming from the dancefloor on the lower deck[], I raced down and what I saw was sadenning.. but not unsual - a half full club, good music, people drinking all around but an empty dancefloor.

I jumped down to it (the dancefloor) and said hi to the DJ before getting into the groove, fatboy's classics are a joy to dance to bouncy but with a deep beat, true big beat. Slowly as is often the case when I club, after I take that first Mauritz step, then other people trickled into the space, the DJ showed his thanks by spinning constant great electronic music, non Fromage, there was one french girl in a cute blouse and skinny jeans who stood out from the crowd we danced FAST together bending and curving round and down, I love those moments at clubs, sometimes hours but usually moments where your dancing with someone you've just met and nothing needs to be said you just enjoy the music together and go to some place beyond this place just for a little bit...

The other peopled parted and gave us space but soon our duet would come to an end, we told eachother it was amazing what we just did but we never met again that night. She left the floor and I kept on dancing for a bit but it just wasnt the same so I went back up to the top deck and chilled out a little bit. Tom's English is quite fluent and for some reason he sounds like an american, no French accent at all, so he introduced a funny game to me.

We would sit alongside or near some cute French girls and then speak English loudly near them and wait for them to pick up on it and ask us where we were from, courtesy to my friend Jake or Adam at Marseille we call Tom the Californian. The game worked a charm it was so funny, if I was a tad more charismatic fellow I could definitely bed a French lady in this manner but last night we used our powers for good clean fun.

Back on the dancefloor later the place was a hot, sweaty mess of moving bodies, It always makes me smile to know I was the first, although clubs always get busier later on so who knows how much effect, past the initial trickle of people, I have on anything. The music was pretty decent, the DJ wasn't a noob, he had some good tracks and then, it happened.

The strobe lights went up, I heard the front end of the track crossfading into the current one and my heart leapt, it was coming, a track I love, a track that everyones been going crazy to for months in the UK, a track the Sub Session DJ's of my university town, Middlesbrough pioneered... I raised my right arm in the dove sign I for some reason always make and caught the eyes of the DJ and ROARRED!!
He smiled and dropped it.
A great moment for a great night.

We walked back home along the river and saw a group of youngsters on the bank so we initiated the game and had a last laugh. One of them was from Reunion Island, a place I'd never heard of, an old french colony off the coast of Madagascar, that guy had a very strange accent but was super super friendly, I told him I'd tell the world about him so I did..

All in all a fantastic first day in Lyon, what will this afternoon and eve bring...

Monday, 7 June 2010

To Suomi!

My life has been full of adventure, my family large mixed and diverse, my childhood a strange one.
Today the exploration will continue in a new country, Suomi, Finland.
In but an hour my journey will begin. A taxi to the train station, buying a ticket, talking to a stranger on the platform, selecting a seat on the train which will have the most chance of a stranger sitting with me, a stranger whom I will talk and try and have an interesting conversation with before we both continue our journey to different destinations.

Manchester airport, a port I've been to once before several years ago to go to the same destination, Helsinki, Finland. All kinds of people going to all kinds of places, I'll make stories about them all in my head, imagine who they will meet at the other side.
Hopefully I'll be assigned a seat next to an interesting soul, whom for 2 hours i can hopefully converse with, I love talking to people, strangers and friends alike.

The aeroplane taxi's onto the runway, it straightens up, everything stops for a split second, turbines warming up, a roar emitting from them and then the whole aircraft surges forward at a dash taking a run up before spreading its wings into flight.
I'm terrified of heights while on the ground, yet I love flying in planes, I love seeing the land, houses, people, dogs, cars, become smaller and smaller to my eyes, unfortunately it's cloudy today perhaps i would be able to see much, I frown.

In Finland's evening I'll arrive. Two wonderful finns, my cousins, await me. It's not so traditional for Finns to hug, but I'm only half Finnish and thus think hugging and the sense of touch is the best feeling - I smirk - in the world, I envision spreading my arms wide and them both jumping into them in unison, unfortunately I dont think this will happen, but I can dream !

My Suomi adventure will have begun.
I intend to make a new flickr album and post the best pictures here, I also intend to keep up to date, writing about my first adult Finnish experince, lets see how it goes...

Have a nice day!