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A Longer Day

Fitful night. Baby sister sent a text to my phone as I was falling asleep, I could swear I read it, she was asking me if I had WhatsAp. But this morning I could not find any text from her. Or email. weird. Might have dreampt it.

Up at 5:30, did my morning stuff minus the shower since I had one last night. 6:45 downstairs to wait for breakfast service at 7, but there was one on the bar, so I grabbed a pair of mini croissants, a few slices of cold cuts and sat down in the lobby. After I finished, they opened the main breakfast serving area. Too late, I needed to find the charter bus stop.

Glad I left early, because what I thought was the stop I found yesterday was not it. I was off by half a block, needed to follow the hotel's suggestion to look for the statue of the soldier on a horse. And to take the first left, not the second. And there was Kevin Standlee escorting wife Lisa whose last name I forget. The bus parked there matched the email, and so did the gathering throng.

One couple was a no-show, we waited 15 minutes then headed out. 3.5 hour drive was 4 hours, including a coffee stop. Lots of freeway, all the roads are in great shape and are being well maintained. I guess this is the time of year to fix them.

Our host talked for the first hour, he is a retiree who spent his life as a journalist, with nuclear power as a specialty. He is a very strong advocate, and he sees 2.5-Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima as taken out of proportion and as lessons learned. He pointed out that France has 60 plants active, no nuclear-related issues. Nothing has gone wrong at this site except a blown pipe away from the reactor building.

At the visitor's center, ID was checked, we were given name badges and a lanyard, and a delicious lunch was served in the dining room. I didn't notice the outdoor patio till later. Chicken soup, salad, chocolate mousse.

Then onto our bus, and a no-photos-allowed tour of the island. The no-photos is a shame, there really is nothing to see which isn't seen better from a satellite, and it's a beautiful natural forest. Parked the bus, and we were escorted by 2 guides and 2 security people through a garage door. Once the door was shut we could take pictures. It was a fascinating walk through bedrock, a fairly steep grade for about 1,000 feet, with stops along the way to have billboards explained by the male guide. The blonde female guide seemed to be there for the ride.

Finally at the bottom of the tunnel is a fancy visitors center, with many exhibits, some of it in a partially dug tunnel branch which was leaking a bit.

Then on to the place the sent fuel goes to rest for 40 years. Nothing to see except the impressive crane and robot truck. We were given radiation meters and when we left the area we each had a machine check for stray contamination.

Then up to the surface in a small elevator, 10 at a time.

Free time to explore the upstairs visitors center and then coffee & bear claws in the dining area.

Trips to the WC, then on the bus back to Helsinki with another coffee stop on the way. That rest area had 5 Tesla chargers and three brand x chargers. Interesting, because our host said there are only 2,000 electrics on the road here. Maybe they are for the Swedish tourists.

I nodded off a lot on the trip home, photo ops were limited because of the glare.

Back to the bus stop at about 8 pm, way too late to check in to the con.

Walked back toward the hotel, heard music behind it so I followed the pedestrian traffic and discovered a major plaza and mall behind my hotel. Way lots of eye candy, too much of it smoking tobacco. I hung around a bit, then went inside ISO dinner. Inside is the bus station for Espoo-bound buses, and lots of places with food, including a Burger King and a Ben & Jerry's. Only $6 for a single scoop.

I found a place called Singapore Wok, but the food was all Malaysian. I had beef kwateo and an orange soda. No diet drinks. Almost as soon as I started eating they closed the glass panels, but didn't pressure us to leave. I left about 1/8 of the meal and most of the soda because the food was so-so and I hate being in a closed restaurant.

Disappointed that the back door/elevator to the hotel, on the plaza side, is employees only. That meant a 2-block walk to the other side, half uphill. There was more eye candy, so not a total bummer.

Up to the room, used the facilities, Facebooked, got undressed, checked tomorrow's route - easy one, just walk halfway across the street and catch the #9 tram. They run every 11 minutes. It's a short walk at the other end to the con check-in.

Plans for tomorrow:
Breakfast
#9 tram to the con
Find my panel rooms & art show
attend the opening ceremony, and whatever caught my eye on the schedule.

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