We've already established I'm stingy and not fond of traditional holiday souvenirs. So while my Contiki comrades were gathering up matryoshka dolls by the armload on Red Square, I was more guarded with my precious roubles. I was inspired by Rory's wife Jane who has amassed an impressive collection of international candy wrappers from her travels, from Melbourne to Madagascar. For the sake of my hefty butt my policy was usually to take one bite, spit out and scream, "They used to QUEUE for this shit?!", then carefully fold up the wrapper. Here is a smattering of sugar from Scandinavia, Russia and Eastern Europe.
Purchased in Stockholm at sunset, just after I took the dead rat photo. "It was poor taste," declared Rhi. "Unlike these Non-Stops. You know, I really can't stop. Damn Swedes."
This is when I decided that Finland RULED! If you see one of these in a shop it's compulsory to yell, "A HAA!" like you're Hercule Poirot and you've just cracked the case.
Another Finnish delight.
Purchased in the same Helsinki spree as the above. Pretty kacky indeed, unless you're a licorice lover.
Finland had the best chocolate of all the countries we've flitted through this year. How can you go wrong with a chocolate bar called I LOVE CHOCOLATE? Because we all do!
If you're ever in that part of the world be sure to sample the delectable hazlenut goodness of a Geisha…
… and the squishy malty whatever-it-is of a Tupla.
Meanwhile dirt, gravel and perhaps the cremains of former dictators are essential ingredients in what passes for chocolate in Russia. But you get a nice picture of the Kremlin in your choice milk or strawberry.
Did you know that polar bears love chocolate?
And so do grizzly bears!
My first bar was destroyed when I left it on the coach, having lived in the UK so long I'd forgotten the effect that direct sunlight has on chocolate. Fortunately the Startled Baby Chocolate was widely available.
Purchased in Minsk for 740 Belarussian roubles (18p). Truly, truly vile.
Meanwhile in the Baltic States… From Estonia, this short and stumpy sellout. I mean, chocolate covered yogurt thingo.
Finally, from Riga, Latvia. We imagined this to be some Soviet relic, as if saying to the comrades, "Dude, you don't want to be going to the Bahamas. It's all brown and shitty there."