We catch a bus from the airport, back 600 years into the Old Town, where all the beauties are collected together in a square dedicated to Freedom. Beauty of face, beauty of architecture, beauty of heart and beauty of soul. I stroll in this place and I laugh and wave to the family that dust the streets with memories. Tallin, Estonia is another home. These friends another family. We drink beer. The sun does not sink below the horizon. I stand up high on a cliff face with a thousand year old stone fence as guardian, and stare out over the Baltic Sea towards what is still to come, but it is no surprise that here I am content. And yet, what true journey man is ever blessed with bliss, settled upon the word content. I say goodbye in the square, my friends close their eyes when I speak of where I am going. They thank me, I thank them. In the morning, Sam and I walk slow toward the dock, a languid parting with this beautiful, aged city. We travel over the sea, in a box built of lights, shopping, queues and ovine chatter which crescendos down the corridors of the ferry as a Momentus tide, as though the very beigeness of all aboard, is enough to keep us afloat upon these cobalt plains.
And initially, this is my impression of Helsinki. Land in mass of writhing trolleys, ages of elbows which muscle and need, sun baked fanaticism to be one in front and potato people baking in a glass oven on a snail pace highway into the city centre - I am thrown, this chapter all grey, steaming and jagged stares though just as all is dizzy and fit we find our tradition, the first beer in a new city, and we drink to leaving this place with a different impression than This we have found upon arrival.
There must be something here.
Our text arrives.
We trolley off.
A host with most gracious handshake and grin, my first Fin, who laughs at the pressure and yet can give stories out like candy cane, as my ears act like children, greedily gobbling them up and yet always hungry for more. And then, as he talks, he moulds this city around us. I the observer, desperate to see how he does this, am too lost in the beauty he creates to follow his words, his hands, but in the course of a few minutes walking, he has turned these brackish steel streets into a forest fantasy the equal of which I have barely seen. This land a land beyond a billion lands, over the reaches and into The Heavens we have travelled to sit beside and admire this mirror of the gods, the surface broken only by the dance of a single white swan and the sky seduced by the face of The Sun herself to turning a roguish pink as the fir trees release their evening aroma and all the animals look at me with knowing Narnian eyes. Here in the city, this great, wild surprise.