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Tragic Ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki

Posted on Sep 14, 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Amongst the facebook photo albums of your travelling friends’ smiling faces, tanned bodies, new foods and famous monuments are those… er… awkward moments we don’t discuss.  We don’t discuss them because we’re trying to bury them deep in the recesses of our consciousness where they can’t marr the perfect memory of our Great Travel Experience.

Like the moment I crossed a bike lane in Amsterdam without looking and got hit by no less than 5 bikes at once in what can only be described as a 5 bike and 1 pedestrian pile-up.  Or the moment you realise the impromptu bar crawl with stragglers recruited in a downstairs lobby through the worst bars Copenhagen has to offer tourists is, seriously, absolutely lame and you have a 15 minute walk home in the freezing cold before attempting to fall asleep to the lullaby of strange people snoring.  Or the moment you find yourself in the crowded Buffet Restaurant of the “Party Ferry” from Stockholm to Helsinki, alone at a corner table, getting shit-faced on cheap white wine for lack of a more interesting activity.

It wasn’t the plan to get on the party boat by myself.  I met a Chinese-Canadian girl in Copenhagen the week before and we connected back up in Sweden, Stockholm, planning to catch the boat over together.  I’d heard it was a wild night of drunken foreigners, cheap booze and silly dancing and gawd knows you don’t turn down an opportunity for cheap drinks in Scandanavia.  So when I got an invitation to a big party out in Stockholm with some Swedish girls we’d met on a yacht in Ibiza (hell yeah, I did just write that sentence!), I delayed my trip on the party boat to a Thursday, alone, assuming the place would be crawling with other travellers as keen to make random-travel-buddies-I’ll-facebook-friend-but-never-speak-to-again as I was.

It may have been the staff member dressed as a sailor directing me to the cabin I was to share with a 45 year old single Finnish lady who enjoyed knitting.   It may have been the ships’ evening agenda of “17:30 String Quartet 19:00 Dance Class: The Boogie Woogie. 21:00: Karaoke in The New York Lounge”.  It may have been the complete lack of anyone else under the age of 35 walking the promenade and shopping duty free.  It may even have been the way I was allocated to a seat at a table by myself in the six room buffet restaurant, complete with seat number on a coloured card.  But from memory it was that moment on sitting down at the table with a plate of food I had meticulously selected from the buffet so as to stand next to someone, anyone, who looked like they might be open to a simple conversation and invitation to join their group for dinner, that I realised this was it.  This was going to be my night on the party boat.  By myself, scarf slung over my shoulder, reading a book on my iPhone, dangling a glass of wine in one hand, pretending to be a millionaire business woman much too busy to have friends.  I definitely, most absolutely was not a traveller who hadn’t read the blogs properly  and so didn’t realise weekday ferries are for balding business men, families and Japanese tourists.

By the third glass of wine, I was feeling quite pragmatic and blasé about the whole affair.  Ahh, the power of fermented grapes.  The ship was rolling quite considerably now thanks to the Sauvignon and it struck me as a good idea to head upstairs to the lounge bar just to make sure there wasn’t a party happening somewhere without me.  I rode the glass elevator up to the top floor with a Japanese man in a suit, only to realise I was on the wrong side of the boat.  Seriously tipsy now, the wine having made it’s way to furthest parts of my brain and toes, I wander around with a palm flat against as many walls as possible, trying to find a way through the locked off first class corridors.  I’m about to head up a set of stairs when I spot the Japanese business man staring across the hallway above me, seemingly also confused.  I duck.  The Sauvignon assures me this is the only appropriate response at this point in time and, crab-style, I sneak off in the opposite direction.  He’s not allowed to see me, I think.  No one’s allowed to see me.  I have to make it to the club without letting another human being see me in my current state.  

“Mission accepted.”

…I am waayyy too drunk to be solo on this boat, I think to myself as I creep around empty corridors, peeping above staircases to check the way is clear before I enter, spy-style, back to the wall.  What the fuck am I doing?  Why am I not just going to bed to sleep away the train crash that is this ferry booking? And why am I suddenly Agent 99 from GetSmart?  I don’t know but my muscles can’t think of anything worse than being still right now – in fact, I’m pretty sure they have spiders in them – so my sloshed brain directs them over the fake-grass-outdoor-area on the top deck and into the New York Night Club.

It’s not until I make a first lap around the Club that I realise how tragic my night is destined to become.  Groups of 50 year old men are staggered across the leather clad lounges, watching the warbling Karaoke efforts of a suited man on a tiny stage in the centre of the bar.  Three middle aged couples pretendy-walz under blue lights to 80’s ballads in Finnish.  Or Polish love songs.  Or Swedish pop songs.  I can’t tell the difference.  A posse of business men turn to leer at me as I bounce past to the bar for a Gin & Tonic (double-gin-please-for-the-love-of-god).  Cos more drinking is exactly what this situation requires.

Eventually a 45 year old Finnish man asks me to dance and I mentally regale myself in ballroom attire as we waltz simply around the dance floor discussing the stresses of his job as an electrical technician on the subway lines.  I beg ladies duties in the bathroom and slip off to finish my drink.  Two guys in a youngish group opposite me get up to warble a dismal attempt at “Blue Suede Shoes” and I bond with the three girls over how bad they are.  A bearded man, whose girlfriend and 18 month old baby are apparently sleeping in his cabin downstairs, also invites himself into our group and we are now the only young-ish people on a boat full of pensioners.

It feels a little like we’ve been abducted as we make our way to what is literally called a Boogie Woogie Show where 20 minutes and a Finsk shot later, I am doing my best rendition of a 60’s swing with what can only be described as a drunken ape.  There’s a few more moments of entertainment squeezed from convincing a couple of drunks to perform solo during the band’s break but, the dancing having rid my muscles of the wine-spiders, it’s finally time for bed.

I’m woken up three hours later by a rudely loud arrival message in Swedish across the PA, my Finnish roommate’s empty bed and a seriously killer hangover.

Party Boat from Stockholm to Helsinkiiiiiii… TICK!

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