Archive for January, 2014

Helsinki

January 16, 2014

We had a late flight from Oulu to Helsinki. A strange observation on this trip: the American airport security regime has suddenly relaxed a lot, but European airports are still doing the full song and dance. I never thought I’d have an easier time going through security in Boston than in Oulu.

We spent several happy days hanging around Helsinki and spending a lot of time with Lissu. We indulged in some of our favorite Finnish cuisine (pizza and kebab), got to see where Lissu works, and E spent some time catching up with old friends. This was a working vacation for me since we had to fit the trip into the semester break, so I also spent some time just on my own working on my spring syllabi and writing an article.

While we were in Finland, we kept hearing about the awful weather in the States. The Finnish news was showing pictures from New York and Boston of multiple feet of snow. We tried to find out about conditions in Georgetown and couldn’t get a snowfall total for the town, but surrounding towns were reporting up to two feet of snow. We had prepared for the possibility of having to dig our way in and had packed a couple of shovels in the trunk of the car (we left it parked in a long-term lot near the airport). When we arrived back in Boston, however, the ground was nearly bare. Even up in Georgetown, which tends to be a shade colder and snowier than Boston or Salem, there was barely a trace. Our driveway was a little icy and slushy, but nothing we couldn’t drive through.

We had a lovely trip to Finland and I’m glad we went. No matter how good the trip, though, it’s always nice to get home.

Oulu

January 11, 2014

We’ve just gotten back from a trip to Finland. It was lovely to be there and spend time with some of the important people in our lives we don’t get to see very often.

Because of our schedule, we ended up flying to Finland on New Year’s Eve. This meant that by the time we arrived in Helsinki, there were no more flights to Oulu that day, even though there would normally have been an afternoon flight. What we decided to do was to book a room in the airport hotel for the night, crash there for the night, and then fly up to Oulu the next day. It worked out quite well. It was good to break up our travel and have a chance to sleep a bit after the long flights. Lissu came out from the city and spent the night at the hotel with us. The three of us went to the hotel sauna and toasted the new year with champagne.

We flew to Oulu the next day. After a brief stop at E’s parents’ place we headed to her brother Olli’s new house for a family get-together. Lots of the extended family were there and we visited with just about everyone. We also delivered our Christmas presents for the niece and nephews. E had made them little fabric banners with their initials and had also found colorful floppy silicone drinking straws that they were calling “worm straws”. I made books for the niece and the older nephew (the younger nephew is a little too young for a book), like I did last year. The nephew got a story about cars; the niece got Adventure-Cat and the Pirates’ Treasure.

Me reading to the niece the book I wrote for her.  I think this is where Adventure-Cat gets rescued from a pit by a friendly tiger.

Me reading to the niece the book I wrote for her. I think this is where Adventure-Cat gets rescued from a pit by a friendly tiger.

We spent the next few days in Oulu. Our schedules were a bit odd as our sleeping rhythms slowly adjusted, but we enjoyed our time. We spent some more time with family and some time out and about in the city. One day we did a little shopping and stopped in at a favorite restaurant; another day we went for a nice long walk around some of the prettier parts of the city.