Home > Uncategorized > the smelly sauna bus

the smelly sauna bus

If it wasn’t for my small win at the casino in Helsinki only a short time earlier, my day today would have really sucked.

Last night I flew from Berlin to Munich to catch my flight back to Helsinki the following morning after staying with Nikolai and Cynthia for a few days. I arrived at the airport this morning with plenty of time up my sleeve and proceeded to the check-in counter. There the lady happily informed me that, as I had not boarded my outbound flight from Helsinki to Munich, the system had automatically cancelled my return flight to Helsinki.

You see, several months earlier, when I originally booked my return tickets to Munich, I realised I had by accident booked my outbound flight from Helsinki for the wrong day. I was told by Lufthansa at that time that, as the flight was a discount fare flight, altering the dates of the booking was impossible. I accepted this and booked another very cheap flight from Helsinki to Munich instead. I assumed my return flight back to Helsinki would still be valid as is the case with other respectable and non-respectable airlines. I was disgustingly mistaken.

So essentially I didn’t bother getting pissed off at the person at the check-in desk for fear that a TV crew would come through the doors and film me being an irate customer. Instead, I booked another flight (at a significant cost) back to Helsinki.

I reckon that it’s a load of shit that a generally respectable airline like Lufthansa has no discretion to even listen or try to empathise with their customers given there was no indication that a return fare is automatically cancelled if the passenger does not board their outbound flight…

When I eventually arrived back in Helsinki I then found out the next bus/train back to Saint Petersburg was in 10 hours, at 11pm. Tits. What was I going to do for ten hours in Helsinki?

Then I saw the casino across the road. What a superb solution to turn my shitty day around. After only a little while of mindless gambling I won back the cost of the airfare.

But today was just an isolated incident.

Please Matt, tell us some more

I stayed with Peter at his place for a few days and was extremely well looked after by him and his mum. Pete lived with his grandpa, mother and brother in a town called Weiden in Northern Bavaria, about 40km from the German border with the Czech Republic. His house was a typical Bavarian house, double storey with an attic and a cellar, kitchen downstairs and an entrance area for coats and shoes.

This one's for you Waynus: me in front of a German Aldi

We did a lot of things in the few days I stayed from driving to the Czech Republic in his Smart Car to buying fake merchandise, a toy helicopter from the ‘asian market’ and buying more useless things from the one Euro shop in town. On the 24th I planned to head to Berlin to catch up with Nikolia, also a friend of Pete’s, and Cynthia; an old friend from Melbourne and Hong Kong.

With Pete’s German expertise, I managed to find a ride share with a lady and her big dog to take me from Weiden to Berlin. The only thing was, she didn’t know a word of English and the extent of my German was piss-poor. So, as you can imagine, the four hour car journey was a pretty quiet only broken up by me attempting to communicate using a kind of pseudo version of charades and her trying to comprehend my stupid movements while trying to drive along the autobahn at dangerously high speeds.

I think the dog had an easier time understanding what I was saying…

Pete's Smart Car that took us to the Czech Republic

I got to Berlin and headed to Nikolai’s house. He lived in a student dormitory with a number of other students but he had a small room to himself. He managed to steal the communal couch from the student common room and bring it in to his room for me to use as a bed. That night we went out, didn’t get home until very early the following morning and consequently spent most of the next day lounging around his place with a sore head.

Did you know the kebab was invented in Berlin? No, neither did I. But it was, and the next day after the hangover day, Nikolai took me to the world’s best kebab shop – located in a secret place. It was a good Kebab, but unlike other kebabs I’ve had.

We then checked out some of Berlin’s famous urban culture from hidden bits of the city to street art before meeting up with Cynthia for dinner that night. After dinner we went out with some of Nikolai’s friends to a popular student spot in what was East Berlin. While the Berlin Wall’s long gone, there is still a pretty distinct difference between former East and West Berlin, which is part of what gives the city its vibe.

In some ways Berlin was extremely different from the rest of Germany but in other ways it reminded me of Melbourne. While most of Germany is neat, tidy, efficient and stereotypically ‘German’, Berlin was more like an untamed and unpredictable gentle beast, unexpected, slightly spontaneous yet comfortable.

Last night I left Berlin and headed to Couchsurfer Alex’s in anticipation of the shitty morning that awaited me.

Now I’m on the world’s hottest bus somewhere between Helsinki and the Russian border. For some odd reason every single thing with a heater in Russia is always turned up to maximum so that you sweat, but I’ll write all about that in another blog. Someone’s just taken their shoes off and an odour kind of similar to that of a rotting cow carcass has spread throughout the cabin.

Getting out of Russia for a while was a refreshing breath of air. While I maintain a kind of love/hate relationship with Saint Petersburg and Russia, I was in need of a brief interlude before getting back in to it all for another five months.

If you’ve made it to the end of this, bloody well done to you, posts won’t normally be this big.

You can subscribe to my blog using your email address and follow me on Twitter on the right of this page. Unfortunately, as I left my camera at Couchsurfer Alex’s in Munich, I can’t upload many pictures just yet apart from the ones in this blog.

Nikolai and Misha singing their favourite Russian tune earlier this month in Austria

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Kim
    January 29, 2011 at 9:36 am

    haha sounds like you had a great time! Hope you survived the busride home! I say keep on going with the loooong posts! 🙂

  1. June 11, 2011 at 1:37 pm

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