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Pole to Pole

Day 24: Helsinki to Tallinn

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleWith a sonorous blast of the horn the Georg Ots, named after an Estonian opera singer, pulls away from Finnish soil punctually at 10.30. The copper domes and wide sloping green gables of the harbourmaster's house recede into the distance as the ship picks her way along narrow channels between the jigsaw of little islands and sandbanks that lead to the Gulf of Finland, and, fifty miles away to the south, Estonia. Not a wide gulf geographically, but in many other ways, enormous.

Thinking myself somewhere exotic, I scan my fellow passengers for clues to their nationality. The first one is reading the Daily Mail, the next Newsweek. Leaning artfully against one of the bulkheads, face turned towards the sun, is a striking girl in dark glasses and a black-and-white cloche hat. She could be Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffanys, if it wasn't for the Lycra cycling shorts. I'm not surprised to learn that she is in the fashion business. She's German, and on her way to a festival in Riga, the capital of Latvia. It is, she explains, the one fashion festival held in the Soviet Union at which Russian designers are permitted to mix with their Western counterparts.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 24
  • Country/sea: Finland
  • Place: Helsinki
  • Book page no: 49

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