Helsinki, Finland

Author: Mariza

3 July

Our eight and a half hour flight from New York to Helsinki was supposed to be mostly for sleeping. Some managed to sleep a little bit, but most of us were up for the entire time. This, on top of two weeks of sleep deprivation, is a sure recipe for throwing your body clock right out.

We rented a lovely apartment with tiny beds for our first two days in Helsinki. Upon arrival we indulged in a long middle of the day nap. Bliss! It took two cups of strong, black coffee to get me moving again. Making the most of the super long daylight hours, we hunted down fresh bread and ventured into the woods. It was 10pm by the time we returned home. Still light outside.

A morning run, followed by a walking tour of the city centre saw us to our second Finnish day nap. Bad habits form way too quickly! And did I mention the kids were all up since 1am? Well, I was NOT having that again. Melatonin, magnesium, antihistamines and a small fortune later, I was set for a good night’s sleep for all. Not until after exploring another part of the city on foot and drinking expensive beer overlooking the Baltic Sea. The kids didn’t drink beer. 😊

Our third day in Finland was moving day. On a grey, windy morning, after a run in the woods and a quick cleaning session, we said goodbye to our cosy apartment. A walk, tram and bus ride later, we arrived at our new abode on the island of Helsingfors. A delightful one bedroom apartment bordering the nature reserve and beach made a fine home for our last two days in Finland.

Finland is fascinating. A population of five and a half million driving a very efficient country. Safe, well developed with free primary, secondary and tertiary education for all. Very impressive. And very expensive! The owner of our second apartment is a beautiful, well educated woman with a good job who has to rent out her primary dwelling over weekends and holidays to be able to afford it. The homes we’ve seen are small, but efficient. No wasted space anywhere.

Scattered throughout the nature reserve on our island are little cabins. A setting so surreal, it could have been a fairy tale. Between trees and bushes, each little cabin looks as if it was simply dropped there from the sky. No water and no bathrooms. Only a little cube for sleeping. During our last morning run we met a lovely elderly couple who’ve lived there forever. They told us that Fins can apply to have these cabins for summer vacation homes. In winter they are covered under a blanket of snow and would not be able to keep anyone alive. Strange and captivating.

Our last day was cold and cloudy again. We took a ferry to Suomenlinna where we put on a brave act to walk the length and breath of the island in the icy weather. And here we were thinking it’s mid summer. We learnt all we could about the history of Finland and the military manoeuvres over the years. And then we could take no more. Our warm apartment the only thing on our minds.

Early to bed and early to rise… Our airport transfer van departed at 3:30am. Our Finland adventure was over. Onto Croatia we go.

– Mariza –

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