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Pole to Pole

Day 24: Helsinki to Tallinn

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleThere is a swimming-pool at the Hesperia Hotel in Helsinki and though it means getting up a little earlier I feel I must take advantage of such luxuries, for today we enter the Soviet Union where things will be very different.

An hour and a half later I'm down at the dockside. The early sea mist has cleared and it looks set for another hot day. The harbour is busy with boats coming in from the surrounding islands - the Suomalinen. Some are bringing produce for the market: potatoes, carrots, onions, strawberries, cherries and plums; some are fishing boats bringing in crayfish, sea salmon and Baltic herring, and some are ferries bringing in commuters. The ship that will be taking us to Estonia is the Georg Ots, a slim, trim, Russian-registered vessel owned by the Baltic Shipping Company.

As we wait for clearance on our thirty pieces of film equipment, I get talking to one of the Customs men. He repeats what I've heard elsewhere in Helsinki about the existence of a Russian mafia which runs a drug and prostitution racket between penurious Estonia and prosperous Finland. It's hard to overestimate the contempt which Finns seem to have for all things Russian.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 24
  • Country/sea: Finland
  • Place: Helsinki
  • Book page no: 49

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