Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Finland 2019: Our Trip in Pictures (and some words, too)

We’re back from our 2 weeks in Finland and The Netherlands, and let me tell you, this trip was dreamy. As dreamy as dreamy can be, that is, with a 5 and a 3 year old tagging along for the ride. This year’s adventure seemed much more successful than years’ past, likely because of an added year or two of maturity for the kiddos, but also because they SLEPT, and SLEPT WELL. We struggled with jetlag for nearly the entirety of our previous trips, which made for tired and cranky everybody during the day. Not this time! Hooray! They also did phenomenally with travel (for some reason they always have), and got lots of high fives from strangers as we were de-boarding. Which was, obviously, the nice way of saying, “Thanks for not ruining my 9 hour flight, kid.” We had a jam packed agenda nearly everywhere we were, and here’s some of what went down in Finland while we were away. 

On our first full day, we went to Finland’s national Zoo, Korkeasaari, which gave us a perfect reason to spend the day outside in the sunshine. Temperatures were (relative to here) cool, high 60s to low 70s, but the sun feels HOT when you’re so far north. Korkeasaari is situated on an island (literal translation: high island), so it made for the prettiest views of the Gulf of Finland. Later that night, a lot of my extended family came to our borrowed apartment to celebrate my birthday (a day early) with a cake and a whole table of good things to eat. The very best.

 Monday was my BIRTHDAY (!!), and we spent it at the most magical place on earth: Muumimaailma!  The kids ate cotton candy, had their faces painted, and hugged every Muumi they could get their hands on. As did I.

Tuesday we headed to a rental lake house: the epitome of summertime in Finland. This is where we spent almost all of our remaining days, sauna-ing, swimming, boating, taking walks, grilling. I dare you to find me a better summer day than that. 

Before we left for our vacation, my grandfather passed away. We buried him the Saturday after we arrived, at the same church where he walked me down the aisle 8 years ago--the hardest--but also the most beautiful--day. The sun was shining and his family was together, and I can't help but to feel his hand in that. So many of my childhood memories are linked to him and his accordion, and all of the grandchildren wore accordion pins at the service to pay tribute to those magical, carefree, summer days, dancing to the music that he made.
We checked out of the cabin on Sunday and met my aunt, cousin, and the boys' second cousin at the oldest train station in Finland,which has now been converted into a cafe. We had some ice cream and headed back to Helsinki. Later, we visited an architectural masterpiece of a library—new to Helsinki and the world alike. The kids played at two different public parks right outside, and then we headed home for Matt and the guys to go play Frisbee Golf at a course in the woods.

On our last day, we took a train to Helsinki city center, and then a ferry ride to Suomenlinna--a Finnish fortress on an island in the Gulf. We packed supplies for a picnic and ate lunch in the sunshine, followed by ice cream for the kids and beers for everyone else. That night, we had a girls’ night at Loyly, a gorgeous sauna facility on the Sea. We sauna-ed our little hearts out, but only my sister was brave enough to dip herself into the freezing sea water afterwards. When we were done, we had drinks on their terrace, cheersing to another vacation that went far too fast. 

The next day, we cleaned, packed, and headed out for Amsterdam (more to come on what we did there in a separate post!). As for Finland, we are missing it terribly. I love that the boys' memories of their summers already include ones that are so close to mine--a richness that we've been so lucky to pass on to them. See you next year, Suomi. You were so good to us.

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