Finnish Chrstmas: Last days in Oulu

December 26-28

Sleeping continues to be a problem. We are doing our best to get our bodies to turn around, but it is terribly frustrating to be dead tired and yet unable to sleep.

On the 26th we payed a visit to Olli and Tiina. We heard that Aino had been looking forward to playing with us since the morning, and that is in fact how we spent much of the visit. Once again, Aino seemed to latch onto me in particular. She showed me her new toys and showed off her knowledge of letters (with a good deal of help and prompting from her mother, but still under her own power) by spelling her name, my name, E.’s name, and her little brother’s name with wooden letter blocks.

On the 27th a storm blew through Oulu. E. and I had wanted to walk out to the market hall, but the weather held us back. It wasn’t terribly cold and we could have dealt with the snow, but the wind was howling right off the ocean making things quite unpleasant outside. Instead we just took a short leg-stretching walk around the neighborhood.

A view across the water in Oulu. This was about midday in the northern winter light.

In the evening we met up with Olli and Tiina and the kids plus Ville at a restaurant in town where we had a good dinner. At the end of the meal, Aino again invited us to come home and play with her. Olli and Tiina confirmed the invitation, so we went and spent a few hours playing with the kids and having evening tea with the grown-ups.

The next day the weather was much better, just above freezing and sunny. E. and I took our walk into town to browse through the market hall.

The Oulu market hall. The big Christmas tree was actully put up for the filming of a Japanese soda commercial.

Olli and Tiina had informed us of a new restaurant in one of the old wooden storehouses around the market square which serves a variety of pancakes, so we went to check it out for lunch. This was no IHOP. The savory pancakes included smoked reindeer, marinated salmon, and variety of other meats, while the sweet pancakes were full of all kinds of fruit. We got one smoked reindeer and egg pancake and one cloudberry and ice cream pancake to share. Both were very good and we were quite full when it was all over. We also went to browse the Pentik shop, one of Finland’s home design shops, for their after Christmas sale.

The pancake restaurant

We had a sauna after walking back, then a bit of a rest and some food before heading to the airport to get our flight to Helsinki. The check-in line was horrendously long and slow. If E. hadn’t noticed an inconspicuous and poorly signed electronic check-in kiosk we would probably have missed our flight. But we made it to the flight. We both dozed a little bit on board and arrived in Helsinki a little refreshed.

Lissu was waiting for us at the airport and accompanied us into the city to find our hotel. We booked a room in a hotel that is much more upscale than we would usually go for, but we got a very good offer on it when we were making reservations for this trip. When we arrived at the hotel to check in, the desk clerk told us that they had upgraded us to a deluxe room, though we’re not sure why. The room is very nice, though, spacious and comfortable. We spent the evening chatting with Lissu, which was also wonderful.

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