Helsinki Travel Blog› entry 2 of 10 › view all entries
We have been spending a lot of time with Arja (pronounced like Aria). She is a friend of my family's that we have known for about 25 years. She has been taking us around the city in the afternoons and helping us book little weekend trips. Her sister Kissu is also here. Her sister has two boys (15 and 12). The 15 year old is currently in an international soccer tournament that is here in Helsinki. Their team is really good, they have won every game so far, with less than half of the tournament to go. She told us that yesterday they played a Ukraine team and won it with a penalty shot. Very nice. :)
Finland is so strange to me. The language is very difficult for me to understand. I am used to being able to read and speak Spanish, French, and Italian (at various skill levels/understanding). Heck, I could even understand some German and speak a couple of words, mostly danke and bitta, lol. But Finnish and Sweedish? Eesh. Good thing we have people who can translate with us most of the time. It also helps that many people speak English here. July is the month were the locals all leave town to go to their beach houses or country houses. It is very hot and 95f places do not have air conditioning. Fins get 5 to 6 weeks of paid vacation a year - amazing, no?
Went to dinner with Arja last night to a local place down the street. I had a unique pizza. Hard, thin crust with tomato sauce, cheese, mushrooms, bleu cheese, and reindeer! Yes that is right, and yes I did choose it. It was actually very good. The meat was smoked, which brought out the unique flavor and red color. I would eat it again. The pizza was huge, so I only ate about half of it, then had a brandied banana with ice cream and nuts for dessert. Also delicious. When I got back I was so tired that I fell asleep twice while I was trying to finish watching Serenity.
Woke up at 6:30 this morning. Was finally able to go walk around and eat lunch around 1 pm. The flat we are in is less than a 10 minute walk from most of the places you'd need to go. Restaurants, the main train station, malls, shops, bars, museums, grocery stores, etc. There is one store called Stockmann, that is basically everything rolled into one. A Macy's type store that also has books, fabric, an eyeglasses place, travel agents, bus ticketers, a grocery store, Mcdonalds, I mean crap, it has everything. Went back to the place about 3 pm and stayed til dinner time at 8:30.
Dinner was great, at this authentic Greek restaurant. It was expensive (like EVERYTHING in Europe), but wonderful service and food. I know our table of 3, with an appetizer, 3 cheaper entrees, and desert (Baklava, of course), was 73 euro. Aieeee!
Tomorrow is Friday, so we are going to go on the train when it gets night to Lapland. Actually I should correct myself! It is rarely "night", or at least dark, here. It's 11 pm and it's barely dusk. The light is beautiful outside, and the only hint that it is late is the cool breeze that snuggles past your sweater and hints at a shiver.
Lapland is north of here, just inside the Arctic Circle. At this time of year they have the "midnight sun", which means the sun really does shine 24 hours a day. It's also the home of "Santa Claus Villiage", huskie dogs, reindeer, and in the winter, the famed Ice Hotel, a hotel, bar, and restaurant carved completely out of ice. While I am looking forward to visiting, I also am jealous of those winter month visitors! The Ice Hotel is carved from the ice and igloos are designed by artists around the world. They have beautiful sculptures, beds made of ice (you sleep in a sleeping bag on top), and a bar/restaurant with ice counters, tables, glasses, and plates. In the winter you can also drive reindeer - you put on a pair of skiis and ride behind a harnassed reindeer.
It's 11:48 and finally almost dark. I'm trying to make myself feel tired so that I can get up in the morning and not be tired all day, like I was today. So I'm watching some dumb old movie that I can't remember the name od. It does have its funny moments though, "This is my boomstick!"