Despite Helsinki’s persistent gloom and rain, Jimmy and I have managed to have ourselves the most fabulous weekend!

We kicked things off on Friday with a movie night. After a dinner of BBQ ribs at a Texas-themed restaurant called Colorado (eh, close enough), we met up with a group of friends at a bar for a pre-movie libation. Merriment ensued and then we headed for the late night showing of Imitation Game, a film about Sherlock Holmes Alan Turing, a brooding genius who likes solving puzzles using things only he can see, under extreme time pressure from Moriarty Hitler and the watchful eye of Mycroft MI6, staring Sherlock Holmes Benedict Cumberbatch.

Both of us thought it was a fantastic film. Impressive cast and -as always- a wonderful performance by Mr. Eggs Benedict. I highly recommend it.

Saturday began with eggs, hash browns, and bacon with a side of 5 Friends episodes. In the afternoon, we met up with a large group for a few sets of beach volleyball.

If your first thought was Beach volleyball in February in Helsinki..? you would be spot on.

As it turns out, there is a really impressive center on the other side of town that includes every recreational sporting facility from rock climbing to laser tag to simulation golf to flight simulators. A co-worker had rented out a beach volleyball court for us for 2 hours.

Thinking eh, why not? we joined up. Jimmy planned to sit at the adjoining bar and watch while I played, but it turns out he is a darn good player and one of the only people tall enough to get over the net with the powder-soft sand.

This facility was amazing. Three pristine white sand courts sit a single glass panel away from a bar and lounge with adjoining sauna. They keep the court room very warm so it actually feels like you are on a beach. What a break from the Baltic gloom! As you might have guessed, the boys took their “hydrating” breaks at the bar.

  I am always worried about playing group sports with people I do not know that well, particularly volleyball. I can get far too competitive, and volleyball is one sport that I am ok at playing. It also seems to be the sport where groups get together to play and end up just messing around, spending more time chasing the ball than playing, and frustrating people like me. However, we ended up playing 2 games (6 sets) of very competitive play with pretty decent players all around! There wasn’t that one person who doesn’t take it seriously and makes it miserable for everyone else, and on the other side, there wasn’t that person who is so competitive that they ruin it for everyone else (which could very well have been me).

It was an absolute blast! I think we intend to make it a bi-monthly thing. You really cannot beat fun company, good natured competition, soft sand, warm air, and beer.

Jimmy and I stopped for some Chinese on the way home, at which point we both could have easily passed out for the evening. Instead we got cleaned up to meet our friend Tarik for a night of bar hopping.

We started off the evening at Shaker -a small bar with fantastic and unique cocktails that recently made a list of “Top 150 Bars outside the US.” We are slowly making our way through their complex drink list, so we each had something different at each round. My first drink was a beetroot, rosemary and Rye drink served in a small jar with a straw. Jimmy had something served in a silver julep cup, and Tarik had a very dainty looking margarita. After one more round there, we made for Navy Jerry’s around the corner.

This was a new bar for us, but it came highly recommended. We must have walked in at the right time, because when we left a few hours later, there was a long line outside to get in.
This place is post-WWII Cuba themed, complete with war-era artifacts lining the walls, armed forces flags on the ceilings, and model airplanes above the bar. The DJ plays period-appropriate dance tunes, with Elvis and Chubby Checkers hits loading the dance floor. Their signature drinks sport names such as the Fidel Castro, the Damnit Janet, and As the Crow Flies. You can even bulk order a drink according to how many people are sharing. Just ask the bar tenders for something “To Share” and give them a number. They will mix something up and pass it to you in a a beautifully garnished, massive jar with a ton of straws.

We ended up staying here for a long while, having a few rounds, chatting with very friendly Finns, and dancing a bit.

Afterwards, we made for Bar Llamas to end the night. As you may recall, this is the Frieda Kahlo/ Day of the Dead themed joint with swings at the bar. We seemed to have made it in just before last call. My drink was amazing -coconut, ginger, steamed milk, cinnamon and rum -and basically initiated the process of falling asleep. They eventually kicked us out, but not before I got to sit on the swing at the bar (which is usually occupied).

So this morning, I woke up with blisters on my heels, sore forearms and legs, and a mysterious quarter-sized bruise on my cheek, but completely satisfied with the fantastic weekend! And with the whole of Sunday to relax!

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