Helsinki-Tallinn. A European Ferry

I always thought of ferries as a rather mundane but necessary mode of transport to some. I mean, it’s simply a necessity in some places. Japan and Philippines alone comprise almost 14,000 islands. Once on a jet ferry from the southern port city of Busan, South Korea, we were instructed to fasten our seat belts, which I thought slightly disturbing. We later found out that the threat was not a blind jet-ferry captain, but the possibility of striking a whale.

Busan-Fukuoka Jet Ferry.

On arrival in the southern Japanese city of Fukuoka, I was randomly interviewed by a Japanese television crew about the trip, and the threat of high-speed whale collisions. Feeling jovial (and forgetting who I was talking to), I said with a straight face that my time is worth money, and those arrogant whales had no right to disrupt my peaceful journey. I didn’t anticipate the Japanese duo nodding and smiling in agreement, and I was probably featured on Japanese television expounding a love for whales roughly akin to that of the Japanese.

On a Filipino ferry heading out of Cebu, we took our seats as in an enormous plane, watched something weird on a large television screen up front, and hoped the vessel didn’t catch fire or collide with an oil tanker. It didn’t (actually the Cebu Supercat was modern and comfortable).

Supercat Fast Ferry, Cebu, Philippines

Recently I boarded a ferry in Helsinki, Finland, en route to Tallinn, Estonia. This was a whole different ballgame, on a whole different planet.

Europeans don’t seem to realise just how problematic their little continent is. To outsiders like me (an Australian, who can drive 4,000 kilometers – the distance from London to Syria – to arrive in a place where precisely nothing has changed, except the preferred code of football, and the brands of beer served at the pub), Europe is a tightly packed traveler’s dream.

The intoxicating feeling of jumping a train for a few hours, to encounter a new language, culture, architecture, food, fashion… over and over again… is indeed highly problematic. Once you realise how indescribably awesome Europe is, you have to keep going back. It costs a fucking fortune.

…and it’s the little things. This ferry! Expecting to strap into my assigned seat for the two-hour trip, I walked into a miniature cruise ship. People wandered about, did some shopping at the supermarket, or gift shop. A two-piece band played in the bar, and they weren’t bad! Other passengers relaxed with their beers outside on the deck. The wifi was solid. It was almost a pity the trip to Estonia was only two hours.

Supermarket on the Helsinki-Tallinn ferry.
Photo: Peninsularity Ensues
A bit of live entertainment at the bar.
Photo: Peninsularity Ensues
Relaxing with a drink on the deck.
Photo: Peninsularity Ensues

But then of course, after two relaxing hours the ferry docked in Estonia, which yet again was… fucking awesome.


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