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So why Finland? II (travel log entries continued)

May 23, 2014

My last post was a come-clean tale about why I came here and I ended on a life-changing moment. To date that last post garnered more hits and comments (from all directions) than any other post I have made to this date. Thank you! Thank you to the people who said they didn’t feel so alone after reading that post, thank you to my friends who were honest about how unhappy they were when I left home and thank you all for the friendliness and support. Even though I am far from home, it humbles me that my family and friends think about me a lot and it’s great to hear from others who have surfed in to read.

This installment continues with travel log entries from the summer of 1997 when I first came to Finland. Read on and see how my attitude changed over the summer. Some additional comments I felt I needed to add appear in [square brackets]

June 3, 1997: (Veteli) … Today I am on my way to stay with one of grandpa’s cousins, A and his wife M…

June 4, 1997: (Patana) … Anyways after a late snack we hopped into a 1968 Ford something or other and went for a drive at 11:00 at night (right now it is 20 after 12 a.m. – and it looks like it does when it is 8:30 p.m. at home… This is so wild. We drove down to Vimpeli – close to Lappjärvi and where Grampa Eli [my great grandfather] was born. In Vimpeli (?) there is a round church and I was told that Grampa Eli – when in Finland, had to see “the church where the devil could catch you.” I’ll be sure to take a picture of it… (late p.m.) It has been a very long day!… In Lappajärvi there were several Kiviahos buried. I got a handle on who’s who and now I can provide the family with some information, (I feel like a pioneer – I am going to be armed with a world of new things to tell people.)… Anyways, Lappajärvi was fascinating – the Kiviahos have a world of history there. My great, great grandfather, Konsta, was a minister… Tomorrow we are headed up to Jakobstad, Kokkola and other towns along the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia…

June 6, 1997: (Hyrynsalmi) … About 45 minutes ago I drank my first coffee – EVER. I didn’t have the heart to refuse her – the lady that asked me. I sat in a Lapp style cottage [I cringe now that I see I wrote the word “Lapp.”] in front of a fire and drank coffee – it was cool. I also saw my first REAL Finnish reindeer. They’re not very big at all. Much smaller than I thought… As for the past couple of days, they were FABULOUS! I saw a lot of family history and learned a lot – it was awesome – I will have to write later, we’re on our way to Oulu.

June 7, 1997: (Oulu) …Oh ya – in Kokkola I tried reindeer meat for the first time – in an omelette, it kinda tasted like beef jerky, but it was good. The drive to Sotkamo, Hyrynsalmi and Oulu was very nice – I loved the scenery, very much like home, it was great.

One of my dreams was to sit at the end of a ski jump - I did just that!

One of my dreams was to sit at the end of a ski jump – I did just that!

June 14, 1997: (Arkala) What a busy past few days! On Thursday night, T, Tiina (a friend and work colleague) and I headed for Oulu. Tiina invited me along on a trip to the south part of Finland where we were going to drop off her brother and their horse at a farm – where Timo would set out training her for harness racing… Anyways – yesterday we had to get up really early, 6:30 to meet Timo (Tiina’s brother) in Oulu to start the trip with their horse. The trip was good – although it was kinda hard to be patient sitting in a car most of the day when the weather was so nice outside. We were at a horse clinic for 3 hours – with one of the best horse vets in all of Finland. He said some really great things about Tiina’s horse – it was nice! Tiina’s horse loves to run and that was evident just from watching Tiina and Timo put on her harness…

June 18, 1997: (Jyväskylä) … I wasn’t planning to stop here so soon, but Martti [a pen pal of mine] said it would be okay. So – on the first leg of my “3 biggest cities in Finland” tour, I have stopped here… I got mail yesterday (and today)!!!! 4 letters – 2 from dad, one from G [university friend in Canada] and one from Grama B. 🙂 I was so happy! I have so many letters to write! Grama was so worried about me being over here – now she feels better since I wrote to her… Anyways it has been a long day and I am pretty tired – I haven’t been sleeping well lately! I think this is my chance to get some sleep! I will be leaving for Tampere tomorrow via train – until then!

June 20, 1997: (Tampere) … Today we went to Suodenniemi – or near there, to Pauli and Katri’s summer cottage – it’s built on a hill! I ate so much friggin’ food today I am sure I have gained weight since I have been in Finland. 😦 Anyways – today I had a REAL Finnish sauna – birch branches, lake jumping and all. It was cool – being stark naked and being able to jump in a lake and no one thinks twice about it… And the sauna was HOT! HOT! HOT!… Pauli is a really great guy, I like him a lot – he knows so much and he said the same of me too. 🙂 [Pauli has been retired for many years – when I met him the first time he drilled me with questions for hours! Back then we needed someone to translate our conversations, or we managed okay with a dictionary.]

June 23, 1997: (Turku) I must have worn the soles out of my shoes today – I walked all around the downtown area of Turku. I walked Irina (she’s originally from Poland, lives in Canada, goes to York [University], will be working in Finland for the summer and the going to school in France for a year… WOW!) to the bus this morning and then did some touring around Turku. The cathedral was GORGEOUS! [I still think this is an impressive building.] I loved it there! Unfortunately many of the museums were closed. [It was Monday.]

June 24, 1997: (Turku) … Today was a good day. I went on a boat tour this morning to Naantali – it took 3 hours so that burned up some time. The boat was an old steamer and man did it have one helluva loud whistle! I was really happy that the weather turned out to be nice both yesterday and today, it sure made touring around much nicer… I find that things in Turku are not so well-marked. I had a really frustrating time both yesterday and today trying to find some of the museums… Despite the frustrations, however, I really liked Turku – there is much to do here…

June 25, 1997: (Espoo) … Here in Espoo the planes leaving the Helsinki airport fly right over Matti’s [my cousin] apartment. Today I saw some planes flying out and I got homesick! In a way I wish I could leave now – I feel like I am missing so much at home. I wish I didn’t have to miss the summer… 😦 Oh well, next Monday I will have been here for 6 weeks and after that it is only 6 more weeks to go…

June 26, 1997: (Tallinn, Estonia) Tallinn was GREAT! I am so glad I did this trip! I went into the Old Town area – thank God I had a map!… Even though I only had a few hours I was able to see a lot (Marine Museum – AWESOME), the modern art museum of Estonia, climbed the Old Town tower and went to the Estonian History Museum – cool.

June 29, 1997: (Kajaani)… We are heading up to Lapland tomorrow, we’re even going to Norway! It’ll be awesome!…

July 2, 1997: (Sevettijärvi) The past couple of days have been great! Right now we are in the northeast corner of Finland – Lapland to be exact… Today we drove along the Finnish-Norwegian border for a few hours – it was BEAUTIFUL! The landscape there is so different. I really liked it. I wish I would have had a video camera! We drove to Kirkenes in Norway – tucked into a fjord on the Arctic Ocean. I even stuck my foot in the water to say that I was THERE!… Friday morning I say goodbye to T and head back to the west to be with my relatives, I will be there for a few weeks and then head off somewhere else… Yahoo! SAUNA TIME!

Installment three coming soon!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. maria permalink
    May 25, 2014 6:41 pm

    I love your journal, cant wait for the next installment!

  2. July 14, 2014 6:37 am

    very full diary, wish you and your family the trip is full of fun and be happy

  3. Michael Lebrun permalink
    October 20, 2014 12:24 pm

    Visit the Finnish archipelago in a traditionally Finnish cottage!

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