Monday, February 07, 2005

Cuisine cruisin'

What a relaxing weekend I had. Didn't think about anything stressful or worrying, instead had a very good dinner (or two, to be exact) and got to dance the Saturday night away. Fun, fun.

What makes a cruise to Stockholm so relaxing? The fact that we aren't teenagers anymore! Back in the days of high school the cruises were nothing more than a drunken feast to quite a lot of kids. You had to start drinking as soon as the ship was on the move (or even before), and the more drunk you were, the merrier the cruise. Or something. I never really understood the excessive drinking part of it, but I had a few friends who grasped the general idea well enough.

It's true that there isn't a lot to do on a Viking Line ship, since there are only two shops (the boutique and the tax free) and two corridors you can walk back and forth if you don't want to sit in the bar and listen to a) lousy karaoke singers, b) mediocre guitar-playing troubadours or c) an even more mediocre "house band". Not what we wanted at all. We tried to sit by the windows near a bar only to be driven away by a disgusting drunkard who (so Satu told me, I couldn't see because I wasn't facing that direction) almost fell on top of me and basically threw Satu away from her bench muttering something like "give way" in Swedish. "Aaarrg you taalkin' Finniishh?" he garbled and we fled.

We ended up taking care of our shopping quite early on in the day and what fun that turned out to be. Satu found something to buy from the boutique, I didn't. Then we went to the tax free, where we encountered a young fellow who was working as a cruise host. We were minding our own business, pondering about a special offer on a quite good wine label from Chile. Both Satu and I had had the pleasure of tasting that particular wine before and were discussing whether we'd like to buy that wine or something new and different when this young whelp came around. He crabbed one of the bottles and began tossing it about in his hands. Ok, a nice trick with a full wine bottle, but not that impressive, if I'm honest. What did make an impact was the sales pitch he had. "This is a wine that is youth friendly (nuorisoystävällinen was the term he used in Finnish). You can drink it even if you don't know much about wines or aren't a very experienced wine drinker."

Excuse me? I must've frowned a bit, because I couldn't for the life of me decide whether he'd thought that we were some middle aged ladies who he'd been told to flatter in order to increase sales or a couple of girlies in their early twenties who probably haven't tasted that many wines at all and would find a "youth friendly" wine somehow attractive. Either way, we were a bit baffled. We laughed and said to the boy (he must've been younger than either of us) that we had both tasted the particular wine and weren't exactly completely ignorant about wines. He just went on: "Not all of us can know much about wines. Chile is a particularly fine wine country because blah blah blah." We smiled at him, nodded a few times and thanked him politely for his insight. Then we left the offered wines undisturbed. I ended up buying a bottle of white wine from New Zealand (I've been meaning to try a kiwi wine for a long time now but my local Alko doesn't have any in its selection) and a red wine from Chile. A wine I hadn't tasted before and that was a bit more expensive than the one the young man had recommended. When we had bought the mandatory candies and some beer (oh no, you're not supposed to drink the beer you buy from the tax free while aboard the ship, but who cares?) we retired to our cabin. The incident with the cruise host proved to be of much entertainment for quite some time. :)

One of the best parts of taking a day cruise (the boat left Turku at 8.45 a.m.) was definitely the long nap we took in the afternoon. When we were teenagers it would've been a waste of precious time drinking or just hanging around in the bar, but now - what a relief to kick off your shoes and just rest for a while.

Later in the evening we had dinner reservations at the a la carte -restaurant and were planning on a full length dinner with aperitifs and everything. And it was perfect. Food was delicious, wine was good and dessert was yummy. We sat and enjoyed ourselves for more than 2 hours at the restaurant. Oh, the delights of adult life. I cannot be persuaded to go to the food buffet anymore, when at about the same price I can enjoy a much better dinner in calm and pleasant surroundings.

After dinner we were a bit giddy. Not from too much drinking, mind you. We were just feeling so good, I suppose. We were resting in the cabin, singing children's songs (Satu has a phenomenal memory when it comes to old children's songs) and talking about silly things and making lame jokes. (Hönteimmästä päästä oli minun pohdintani siitä, olisiko pyöräilevä yksisilmäinen jättiläinen nimeltään syklooppi... Ehhehe. Tässä vaiheessa se teini-ikä tuli aika liki...)

The rest of the evening (we did manage to get out and about after a good while of silliness) we spent in the night club dancing. There was a guy (by the looks of him he was Swedish - not a bit drunk at about midnight ...) who danced remarkably well. It was fun to watch him. I think we made some kind of an impression on him, too, because he and one of his friends came to talk to us at one point of the evening. Luckily none of that icky pick-up talk, but a query of where we were from. It was a short discussion, but I was glad I was able to comment on his moves, I think he deserved some praise for being such a piece of eye candy. His friend had asked Satu whether we'd like to go out on the deck with them to dance, but if that was meant to be a pick-up, he wasn't thinking very clearly. It was friggin' freezing outside, not to mention the wind conditions, which made the ship roll back and forth. Need I mention we kindly refused the invite? For the rest of the evening the guys kept on dancing as did we, but not on the deck and not together either. Actually Satu and I did leave reasonably "early" to go to bed.

A fun cruise, all in all. I got to experience, once again, what it could feel like to be seen in the company of a celebrity. Both Satu and I turn some heads when we go about (I have to give myself that much credit), but to be honest, Satu turns heads a lot more than I do. It's actually quite funny to follow men and how they gawk at her. Some check to see if she's wearing high heels (she's a tall girl, a few centimetres taller than I am) and some can't help but comment on her to their mates as she walks by. She's somewhat used to it, the pretty thing she is, but of course it can be a bit tedious when every single drunkard in the place imagines they can win her over by pawing her on the dance floor or something. The guys do find out pretty soon that she takes none of that. Nor would I, even though I'm single. There's a difference between being single and being pathetically desperate. We did see one Finnish blondie falling for a darker Swedish guy. She was wasted and he was happily making the most of it, groping and, well, practically eating the girl alive on the dance floor. One more good reason to stay almost sober in bar surroundings - the icy attitude towards icky loosers works better when one's wits are sharp... :)

On Sunday, after I got home, I slept a few more hours, watched Farscape (darn it for making me cry once again...) and drove to mom&dad's for dinner (yummy reindeer) and some quality family time. A perfectly relaxed end to a fun weekend. I feel like I got extra energy out of this little break in the routines and now I'm off to do a bunch of tasks I listed on my "to do" -list for the day. I hope I'll be able to get everything done. :)


Aino said...

That wine-whelp sounded perfectly obnoxious! Gah...

You mentioned in an earlier post that Satu is my relative. Would this be a tall, slender young lady with long, brown hair who works as a physiotherapist and does oriental dancing?

Johanna said...

That'd be the gal, my bestest friend. :)

She did tell me about a curious LotR Club and a zine of some sort, when she told me about the times you met in the past. ;)

She's yet to read the book, btw. :)

Aino said...

Whee! Small country and all that... I should contact her - I've been meaning to do so for any length of time, but somehow haven't gotten around to it.

Oh, yes, the club! Heh, I'd almost forgotten about it. That was back when we were in elementary school and junior high. Guess who was the editor-in-chief of the zine..?