So I see this add on the Oulu city tourist website – “The world’s largest sailing ship SEDOV will arrive in Oulu at the Oritkari harbour” You could watch the ship’s arrival from several places including Nallikari. But that would be on a Friday afternoon, and with the way our UAT was going I had a strong feeling we wouldn't be able to get out for an hour or so in our lunch time to see the arrival. That was a bit of a disappointment, as I would have liked to see the sail ship with all its sails open.
But then there was this other option to visit the ship that weekend. The tickets which included the bus transport from and back to the City center and entrance to the ship’s public spaces was only 5€. That was a bit of a pleasant surprise since generally Finland is quite expensive and the minimum bus ticket fare (one way) is 2.90€. But what surprised me a lot was that they hoped (that's the word used on the brochure) that everyone will buy their tickets in advance. I was thinking…how many people are there in Oulu, that we need to get tickets in advance!!!
Was I shocked? U bet! When we approached the bus point we could see several people getting on to the bus. That was still OK. When I reached closer and entered the bus…IT WAS FULL AND PEOPLE WERE STANDING!!! Like a bus in India. Not Oulu!!! There were days when I got late at office and I would be the ONLY one on the bus.
Bus on the way to Sedov Ship!!
Bus on a normal day!
Well…the shock didn't end there. When we reached the ship, I saw a queue of about 25 –30 people and I was like...oh no!what a long queue!!! After an hour on the ship, I just looked over and what I saw made me thank my stars that we came when we did. WOW...that was some queue!!! But the amazing part was, like in all other parts of Europe, how everyone including the small children were standing in an organized way and waiting so patiently for their turn. It looked as if the whole of Oulu was there. Later I read that 20000 people visited the ship that weekend! I couldn’t stop imagining if this was in India…there would definitely have been a stampede. This is one of THE things that I wish we could somehow enforce in India… no cutting queues!!! By the time we left the queue was some 250 people long at least and the waiting time would have been close to an hour. Even on the ship, people weren’t just roaming around at will, but moving slowly in a queue to take a complete round of the ship. so damn organized!!!
The ship itself was a beauty! Sedov, so named by the Russians when they acquired it after World War 2 after the Russian polar explorer George Sedov. The big modern cruise ships are no comparison to the traditional sailing ship. This one in use since 1921, holds several records…world’s largest sailing vessel still in use, also the longest training ship which is used to train the marine cadets since the Second World War when this vessel was used as a school ship in the Baltic Sea. And that’s why we saw young sailors boys and girls on the ship. It can accommodate round 100 cadets being taught navigation and engineering. In its Cargo carrying days it used to take only 92 days to reach the Isle of Wight from Sydney.
As we left the ship, I couldn't help wishing that I too get a chance to sail on this beauty...It was a lovely way to spend a Saturday morning.