February was well and truly coming to an end, and Tyral’s ‘grey area’ surrounding his visa was becoming more and more of a cloud weighing over us. Tyral entered the EU in July 2015, and apart from some time spent in Croatia, hadn’t left. When he left the EU the first time he received a leaving stamp, but when he hitch hiked back over the boarder, he never got an entry stamp. Unsure what to do at the time; he left it (typical).
On entering the EU Australians receive a free 90 day visa, and once that runs out they must leave for 30. Tyral didn’t have the stamp to state what date he had entered, he also may or may not have stayed a ‘few’ extra days over his visa, but we were worried it was going to be a difficult task explaining where his entry stamp was when we finally left the EU. Over every boarder crossing we went I got nervous and scared, like when a police car pulls up next to me at the traffic lights, only this time we had something to worry about.
And so we had the decision if we should spend some more time up North of Finland, or hurry down and out of the EU, we did the latter. After our ordeal hitch hiking to Pyha, we weren’t feeling too confident about hitch hiking out. There was little to no traffic leaving, especially because it was a Sunday, so we booked a bus to Rovaniemi.
After a night sleeping on the floor of an interesting characters home through couch surfing, we woke at 4am to get the 12 hour bus back to Helsinki. We were tired and cranky by the time we arrived, and had serious thoughts about not couch surfing and just getting a cheap hostel to rest up in. Not wanting to bail on our host, we made the trek out to her house and were imminently glad we had once we arrived. She lived with two house mates, all around 20, and they made us feel at home straight away. On the plus side they had two adorable cats, one of my favourite things about couch surfing when someone has a cat.
We spent our first day walking around Helsinki and visiting the island of Suomenlinna, a beautiful historical place just 20 minuets via ferry from the main land. That night the young couple we were staying with invited us to an ice hokey match, something we had wanted to do while on our trip. Helsinki was playing Saint Petersburg fighting for the top spot of the season.
We were on track to leave, find some warmer weather and cheaper countries and have Tyral legally in a country.