(It means Finland, Jeez, what a bunch of uncultured readers we have)
22.12.2008 - 04.01.2009 -15 °C
- **PHOTOS TO COME AT A LATER DATE WHEN WE ARE ON A MORE MODERN COMPUTER***
Yeeeew, Finland is the home of snow, smoked elk, Matti (world famous ski jumper (apparently)), fish, sauna, snow, snow etc.
Oh my gosh, the first time Caitlin or Tim had seen snow, and it was at least up to Caitlin's knee (Tim's knee is of course 10cm higher, we know because we just measured it).
Arriving in Helsinki on the Mariella from Stockholm we then jumped on a train and headed north to Jyvaskyla, where we were met by Tim's cousin (well my Nan's cousin's son) Harri Heikila. He had a sign and everything it was great!!
We then tavelled further north to a place called Pyhasalmi which is about 3 5ths of the way up and in the center by Finlands 32nd biggest lake (we were told). We spent an awesome week hangin wit Harri his wife Kirsi and their boys Jesse and Niko - who we never saw and possibly doesn't exist, scientist are still debating this one.
- We visited the words biggest private bell collection at Vaskikello (copper bell).
- We experienced a true Suomalinen christmas including several days of eating, decorationg the ole christmas tree a visit from santaclause (we even got to sit on his lap and sing a song - we of course went for a good old fasioned jingle bells as we new no Finnish tunes) we were loaded with gifts of homemade socks and gloves, Fazer's famous vodka filled chocolate, and of course we made some traditional finish bread including Joulu tortu, piiper somethingorother (ginger bread) and Joulu bulla. Mmmmmm
- We saw some real ice hockey close up and it was great, especially when Kirsi, who plays on the mens team of course, slammed some guy and subsequently gave away a free shot. It was damn exciting!!
- Tim played tennis with Eero and his friends at the indoor place (50cm of snow outside = bad outdoor tennis weather) whilst Caitlin cheered on (and laughed at silly Tim)
- Sledding!!! Heaps of fun! Untill we pressured Harri into having one more go on the tube which popped : - ( , Jesse of course was dynomite on the ski things, Tim, not so much.
- Caitlin got sick : - ( : - ( but was soon on the mend after being given every local remedy concievable by all of the caring people (the best was Aira's mooseberry vodka cordial, it sure was medicinal, or perhaps rocket fuel, Harry and I enjoyed a sneaky swig as well and we havent been sick since!!)
- Harri's brother Ari, the post office boss, has a sweet blues band and Tim got in on the act when their drummer was late.
Very sadly indeed it was far too soon to move on from Harri's home which was so very......homely, warm, welcoming, and the best place ever with the best people ever.
We said our sad goodbyes at the station at 6 in the morning where Harri, Kirsi, Jesse, Ari and Toire came to bid us farewell, good luck and moi moi.
We spent the next few nights with Tim's grandmothers cousin on her fathers side Outi and her husband Christer at their fantastic summer but also winter cottage. It was great chillin out here with Outi visiting the artist village of Fiskars, enjoying some fine food (mmm baked honey and red pepper salmon), walking in the forest by the lake, and partaking in their great sauna and czech beer. They were quirky and lots of fun and once again it was sad to leave!!
Finland has this crazy rule that between 6pm new years eve and 6am new years day AS MANY FIREWORKS AS YOU LIKE, as a result every year several Finns lose an eye or 2 and several fingers, but we didn't!!
We had a good time in Helsinki with Lotta and friends as the "old people" decided we would have more fun with the "young people". We went to big field where everyone was letting off their own fireworks and it was great!! Way better than the newcastle harbour fireworks, but only marginaly better than the Westy RSL extravaganza.
Next stop was Sillantaka farm near Tampere. Lotta's mum Onerva (nan's cousin, Outi's sister) and Erkki welcomed us to their enourmous mansion/farm house/homestead. It was great exploring the house and farm which has retained its 4 or 5 generations of history, artwork and cool interesting stuff.
- We visited the nearby home of Finlands most famous scuptor
- Visited Iittala, with its awesome glass factory and craft shops.
- Spent a day in Tallin seeing the sights with Lotta, Onerva and Erkki
- MORE SAUNA (they are great, we want one!!!)
- Ahhh country skiing! It is hard and hard work and lots of falling over and hard but apparently we are really good at it for our first go.
- minus 15 bah, without wind it is not so bad.
All in all Finland was great. Every one was so friendly and welcoming and wanted to feed us. Tim felt a strong connection to this place and we are both keen to return....someday.....