08.09.10 – I spent the day traveling to the city of Hanko, the port where are cars were delivered. Things started off interesting when the train I was taking came to an abrupt stop shortly after leaving the station. The announcements were in Finnish so I asked the only other person in the cabin if he knew what was going on because I just saw two railroad workers and a police officer walk by the window on their way to the front of the train. He left, came back and then in broken English said “I don’t know… there might be a problem… or perhaps someone is dead” and sat back down with his paper. After several other announcements and a good 30 minutes, we finally started rolling. I never found out if someone died.
I had a scheduled transfer midway through my train trip but due to the accident I missed the connection. The railway had already scheduled for me and the other Hanko travelers to take a taxi which turned out to be more of a microbus. I spent the next hour sitting facing backwards across from the Finnish version of an angry Thurston Howl III from Gilligan’s Island. He was a short, grumpy old guy wearing a bright yellow ascot and refused to put on his seatbelt. I couldn’t help thinking if we had an accident, he would come flying at me like an unhappy projectile. Luckily we made it there without any complications.
There were two parties I needed to deal with to get the cars, the first was the shipping company, Victor Ek, and the second was Finnish customs. I wandered around trying to find the shipping company, enough to experience the drab side of Hanko. Apparently the city also has another more historic side where Finns like to spend their summers but I wasn’t seeing it. The rep at Victor Ek took me to the cars and it was great to see my little orange Honda Element. He gave me a jump because the battery was weak and took me to customs.
Customs was what I figured it would be, a long process with lots of paperwork but the people there, like everywhere else in Finland, were very friendly. It’s funny after living in America for so long and having to deal with nasty bureaucrats, the Finnish version, which are very friendly and helpful, are actually great to deal with. The woman helping fill out the forms, because they were in Finnish, would chuckle after each thing she told me. It was like, “here is to put… your… um… address in Ooo Esss Ah” chuckle chuckle. I needed to have insurance, which I hadn’t arranged beforehand, before they would release the car to me. Customs could give me a months worth for 120€, which I didn’t mind paying but one of the agents interrupted and told me about the one insurance company in Hanko which could probably help and save me a bit of money. The four agents at the office were discussing something in Finnish and then one agent told me “Ok, Jussi is going to drive you there to get insurance.” I just thought it was funny. They drove me to the insurance agent and then picked me up an hour later just before the customs office closed.
All in all, it took about 6 hours to finish the paperwork. I was hoping to take my time on the drive home, to cruise around Hanko, look for the nicer side of town and maybe stop a couple of times on the way back to Helsinki but I had to hurry back because I got a call from Emma, just as I was wrapping up the paperwork, saying her and Max had forgotten their keys to Jaana’s apartment and were locked out.
Well, I have to do the same thing tomorrow to get Jaana’s car. Hopefully things will go smoother ;)
- Plucky Finn attempts to drive length of Finland in small digger (go.theregister.com)
- Driving Cross-Country, In an Excavator (wired.com)
- Nipple-sucking doctor to face court in Finland (theprovince.com)