Ferrying to St Petersburg via Helsinki represents the first significant departure from the planned itinerary. Basically we are doing it to save a day bus ride on Friday. Also it is another country under our backpacker belts. Finland is the 46th country I have backpacked. Runty, as I frequently remind him, is one behind on 45.

An interesting fact about Finland is that they consume an average of 14 kilogams of coffee EACH annually. This translates to about 9 cups a day. The traditional coffee ritual involves refusing an offer of coffee three times then saying ‘okay just half a cup’. This usually result in having about four or five cups. The Fins sound like my kind of people.

The language here is going to be a bit of a problem as some words are over 40 letters long. It takes ages just to read them let alone remember all of the wacky sounds of all of the syllables.

Managed to get off the beaten track and see the Maria Hospital after Greg felt very ill and was shaking and almost fainting in the afternoon. They took blood and did an ECG but they couldn’t find anything wrong with him. Despite the hectic drinking pace on tour Dr New has decided that caffeine is the problem. He’s feeling loads better now in case you are worried.

Another interesting fact about Finland is that it is the socks and sandals capital of the world. I’ve seen more people in Helsinki wearing socks unashamedly under their sandals than in all of the rest of my life. Kooky.