Mark JohnstonTAMPERE’S SÄRKÄNNIEMI Britnee Johnston August 20 Finland, Round the World Trip, Travel Finland was full of relaxation after our two months of heavy traveling through China and Russia. Mark’s family greeted us in their cozy summer cottage on the lake, complete with a sauna at the shoreline. Spoiled with so much comfort, his family had to make sure we had some sort of thrill before leaving them. We were taken to Tampere’s theme park, Särkänniemi, full of the wildest roller coaster rides I’ve ever seen. When we first arrived, I thought the carousel of swings would be a good warm-up, but Mark’s cousin Osku thought the Trombi would be a better start to the morning. There were no seats on the Trombi, instead we climbed up into a cage-like capsule and grabbed the handles on each side while standing up. As it moved closer to the start of the track, it slowly closed the cage behind our backs and tilted itself forward so we were laying flat with our bellies facing the ground. Mark noted that it was at this point I cleared my throat multiple times, which he took as a sign of nervousness. I insisted my throat was simply dry from not drinking enough water that day. Either way, I will admit it was terrifying to take the first plunge as I had never been on a roller coaster where it made me lay down. We experienced the sense of flying as we made swooping turns and twists while enclosed in our cage. Not bad for a warm-up. I was ready for the next challenge. The second ride we tried was the Motogee. We were seated on motocross bikes with the only protection from falling out being a padded bar behind our backs. When it was our turn to begin the ride, we waited in anticipation for the “ready, set, go” lights to flash for us. An announcement was made over the intercom in Finnish that we couldn’t understand, but we guessed there was some sort of malfunction. As we waited, Mark casually leaned on his bike and looked around while my hands remained tightly clutched to the handle bars. I looked straight ahead the whole time in case the ride started with no warning. I didn’t want to be jolted to a surprise start. The delay was several minutes long while the pressure from the padded back bar started to uncomfortably squeeze my body. Finally, the lights flickered on, and within a mere two seconds we rocketed onto the tracks. It felt even scarier than the Trombi because at least on that ride we had a cage covering our view so we could tell we were protected. With the Motogee, we had nothing obstructing our view so could feel the full blast of air on our faces as we raced around the twisting turns. With two roller coasters checked off, there was one big one left to go. It was time for the biggest, scariest ride of them all–the Tornado. We noticed the Tornado from the moment we walked in as this roller coaster’s track winds throughout the park. Mark was the first one to go on the Tornado with Osku, while I watched over Osku’s daughter, Siiri, who was on more pleasant kiddie rides like tea cups and ladybugs…rides I wished I had an excuse to go on too instead of the big ones. At first, Mark hesitated about the Tornado since Osku told us there was a narrow tunnel where he tucked in his legs because he felt they would hit the walls. Mark, being 6’6″ looked, weary about that part. Osku said he’d warn him when the tunnel was coming up while on the ride and when Mark returned he thankfully still had his two feet. It was then my turn to ride the Tornado. There was no line when I followed Osku onto the roller coaster, which meant I had no time to think about what I was getting myself into. I plopped onto the hanging seat and pulled the bars over my head onto my chest. Osku pointed out the extra belt buckle that ensured the bars would stay put on me. The feeling of fear came when the ride began its ascent to the top and hearing the notch by notch clicking. The jitters continued as the tracks repeated 360-degree spinning turns followed by upside-down loops. As we approached the tunnel, I closed my eyes as it continued to spin us in the dark before entering the light again. The ride ended as quickly as it started. “That was a good one, but I think I’m done for the day,” I said to Mark and Osku. So the guys went off to do the Motogee again as Siiri and I went on one of the easy carousel rides I envisioned myself on earlier. Ironically, the carousel was the one that made me feel the most sick as it kept going around, and around, and around… I should’ve just stuck with the roller coasters. Check out more photos from our visit to Finland.