Last Sunday our exciting trip to Finland finally started! The very first time I’m taking my husband back home to show where I came from. I had a big mission for the trip and in this blog post you’ll find out how I succeeded.
It was my husband’s first time to fly to Europe and of course the first time to sit 10 hours in a plane. Before boarding our flight we took a mandatory family picture, the very first time as well!
Our flights with Aeroflot went very well, no one snored too loudly, the kids behaved well (waving at as for hours, but very cute) and the food was pretty good. It was a day-time flight but we managed to get an hour of sleep or so. I was very satisfied with the service at Aeroflot and when changing the plane in Moscow they even let all the families traveling with kids to go first, even us that still have their baby in the tummy.
The first day, Monday, was spent sightseeing around my small hometown Heinola. The population is almost 20 000 and you can easily walk around where ever you need to go. For lunch my husband choose a typical Finnish Summer dish, salmon with new potatoes. Alan was very happy to eat Salmon at least three to four times during his week in Finland!
My hometown doesn’t have too many places to see, but those include a beach, a bird zoo, water tower and just lingering around the city center. The weather for the whole week didn’t rise above 20 degrees Celsius, but during sunshine it was warm enough.
A view to the city center of Heinola from the water tower. As you can see, my hometown is kind of tiny compared to Guangzhou.
During our week we joked how Cantonese eat everything and we Finns eat all the time! Well, maybe it’s only true when you have important guests and Alan had problems to keep up with all the lunches, dinners, snacks and desserts. Here we are enjoying a waffle on top of a small hill.
Alan was amazed how quiet it was everywhere and how we hardly saw any people. What he liked the most were the clean air and nature.
On Sunday we took a bus to Helsinki to visit my older younger brother, it was great to have all my siblings with us for the day! What made me even more happy is how well Alan gets along with all of them, especially with my youngest little brother who is even more into sports than Alan is. Together they went running and played tennis.
A Summer in Finland wouldn’t be a real Summer with fresh and delicious strawberries and peas. We bought one kilo of each and finished them all in twenty minutes. Strawberries in Guangzhou just doesn’t taste the same.
We visited the Unesco World Heritage Sight Suomenlinna, that is a fortress from the 18th century. It had been almost twenty years since I visited Suomenlinna the last time, but I managed to spot some familiar places. For Alan it was a chance to see a glimpse of Finnish history. Helsinki is located next to the sea and Suomenlinna consists of a few islands, so it can be super windy even on a warm Summer day.
Guangzhou is too big to enjoy by walking, but Helsinki city center luckily isn’t. Helsinki Cathedral is one of the most famous buildings in the centre of our capital. Here we saw lots of Chinese and Japanese tourist taking pictures, felt just like home in Guangzhou.
For lunch Alan wanted to have some meat so he chose the pork ribs with lingonberry sauce. We didn’t eat any rice for the whole week and now that Alan is already back in Guangzhou, I bet he is enjoying his mother’s cooking for a month! I think it was very brave of him to try everything and taste so many new dishes during his trip. Perhaps we wouldn’t be as adventurous when we visit China the first time.
Going back home to Finland always means several nights of family board games. Here we are playing a game called Qin that has a Chinese background to the story, but for some reason my little brother kept winning the whole time! On the right you can see traditional Finnish buns and cinnamon rolls.
On Thursday it was time to have a road trip to Tampere with my mother and my bother. Tampere is the third biggest city in Finland and I used to study there before I moved to Guangzhou. Most of my friends live there so it’s a must visit every time I come back. During our drive we played games from our childhood, like guessing the color of the next car we saw.
Ice cream is an important Summer treat in Finland. Because our Summer is so short and many things can only be enjoyed during the Summer, we value it highly. There is the first swim of the Summer, first ice cream outside, first cold cider on a terrace etc.
In Tampere we had lunch with my friends, visited the international market at the city center and took a quick look at the Spy Museum where I used to work five years ago. My husband translated their English guide-book so he wanted to make sure he had done a good job.
Before heading back to Heinola we had a party treat at Captain Hook and ordered a set of fries, onion rings and 60 chicken wings! With the four of us we could only finish about 40 of them, taking the rest with us.
A beautiful rainbow made our drive back home a real treat.
On Friday my sister and brother took Alan frisbee golfing, showing him the new sport that has been very popular in Finland. The rules are similar to golf, but instead of hitting a ball you throw a frisbee to a goal. Because we play in the forest, a lot of time goes to finding our frisbee inside the bushes when it accidentally goes in the wrong way. But that’s part of the fun!
On Alan’s last full day in Finland, Saturday, we went to my aunt’s place to enjoy a five-hour lunch/dinner combo. She is an amazing cook and likes to entertain guests so eating there always takes hours and hours. First we had salmon with new potatoes, then we enjoyed mashed potatoes with mouth-melting pork stew and vegetables. For dessert we had blueberry pie, rhubarb pie, self-made cookies and ice cream with strawberries. I’m not sure how we walked back home after stuffing our selves with all those treats!
Before going to sleep there was one final thing for Alan to try. Take a dip in the river! The weather haven’t been that warm this Summer so the water temperature was just about 16 or 17 degrees Celsius. My little brother jumped right in and Alan followed him quickly. I did a short swim as well, but didn’t dare to dive as the cold water almost got me into a shock!
On Sunday me and my mother drove Alan to the airport, his short Summer holiday has come to an end. A week really isn’t enough to experience Finland to the fullest, but I’m sure it was just the first of many many trips in the future.