13 June 1980

Finnish border and ferry to Sweden

Wake up at 7am, quick breakfast and sadly we must leave Leningrad. We drive slowly and take in the landscape. Brief stop at Vyborg (Viipuri), a town now in Russia that's been contested for centuried between Russia, Finland and Sweden. Everything goes smoothly until the Finnish border.

At the border station we must wait a good half hour before the Soviet guards even so much as look at us. Then another half hour inside the border station itself. The first thing to do is change the 7 rubles I have left into dollars. The exportation of rubles is not allowed. Not that we wanted to take any out of the country anyway. It's a non convertible currency and can not be spent anywhere else.

We are slightly concerned about the two bottles of Soviet champagne we got, strictly speaking illegally, from our waiters friends. Even more concerned with the Soviet Army belts we got from igor in Moscow that Andrew and I are wearing, but no one seems to care. This time they hardly even look at our luggage. They completely ignore the car.

We reach Helsinki easily and quickly. What a relief, the roads are clean and smooth, service station convenience shops are lined with shelves stocking everything one can possibly need while traveling by car. We are back to normalcy.

At Helsinki Andrew and need ferry tickets to Stockholm, the plan is to visit my friends, the Ericson family. Ann and Cathy head back to Poland.  The Silja line, the best one, is fully booked. We get a place for us and the car on a Viking line. Viking is cheaper but the ferry does not really exist as a means of transportation between Finland and Sweden. It is a floating pub where kids from both countries can buy and consume cheap alcohol without restrictions. On board, everyone, from 12 to 82 years-old, is completely drunk. We are not going to have a very social experience, rather an anthropological one: Scandinavians trying to find any possible way to beat the system and get drunk.

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