Day 71 – What else she writes we don’t know and how she found us and our Russian phone numbers we don’t know either – 11 May

Day 71. 11 of May. Vyborg. Still no paddling.

No paddling, but a good night’s sleep and Russian Sim cards plus a grand tour of Vyborg. We slept in and were well rested as we went to town for a coffee and light breakfast. Next up was a Megafon shop. Megafon being a Russian cell phone network provider.

On presentation of our passports there was no hazzle to get Russian Sim cards. So now it is much easier to communicate with our Russian helpers and friends.

A little unclear how this worked, but shortly after we had put in the Sim cards, Denis our guide to Vyborg called, and sometime after that Svetlana a journalist from Primosk called to understand why were doing this.

It has been a summers day in Vyborg with temperatures around 20 degrees. We had time on our hands so we had hired a guide to show us round Vyborg. Denis met us at 1600 and turned out to be a very knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide. He took us round Vyborg for two and a half hours.

One thing we realized is that we so far have been paddling entirely within the Kalmar union, as Vyborg was Swedish until 1710. (then Russian, then Finnish, then Soviet, then Finnish, then Soviet and now Russian) .

It used to be a key city for Sweden and Finland, but for Soviet Union less so with its many other Baltic harbors.  Since 1992 the harbor has increased in importance again, and Siberian coal and oil and timber is exported through Vyborg we learned.

Vyborg is a city of ca. 80 000 people, and shrinking. It shows that land in the city center is not in very high demand. Anyone interested in renovation and reconstruction has a number of projects to choose from… Interestingly the most well maintained buildings were those owned or controlled by the Russian Ortodox church.

There are certainly many particularities and a complex history that has taken Vyborg to where it is today, but also the ground swell of globalization and urbanization plays its role as Denis explained people are leaving for overseas or St. Petersburg or Moscow.

Denis explained that he is a religious man, but not in the Russian Ortodox church. He is a member of a church he compared to the Baptists. We also learned that he and his wife home schools their three daughters.

At a distance we see the long lines and broad brush explanations, close up things become more small particular stories about people and how they try to live their lives well and with dignity. Starting from very varying points of departure.

Tomorrow we have a long paddle to Primorsk, where we may meet with journalist Svetlana, who it turns out has already written a small piece about us. Something about Norwegian Vikings, we believe… What else she writes we don’t know and how she found us and our Russian phone numbers we don’t know either.

Tomorrow may shed some light on this.

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