First snow!

December 13, 2014 (8:30am)

December 13, 2014 (8:30am)

Shiva got her first taste of snow today! I took her out this morning, and snow had blanketed the ground during the night, coming stealthily to catch us unawares. She came off the stoop and sniffed around at the white stuff, not touching it at first, until she determined that it wasn’t anything to be concerned with. She did try to roll it in it once, like she does with grass, but as soon as her shoulder touched it, she was back up like a shot, and didn’t try again.

Shiva sees snow for the first time

Shiva sees snow for the first time

Shiva hides in the snow

Shiva hides in the snow

Shiva's first snow

Shiva’s first snow

She looked quite stylish in her sweater, but unfortunately, was not going to stay that way for long. We would have walked to the dog park this morning, but I had no interest in trying to navigate that steep path with the snow and slush on the ground, so we just walked around a different way. Along this route, she went exploring amid some trees, and eventually something in the underbrush got her attention. She got her leash tangled in the branches, and as I was trying to untangle her, she was digging like crazy after something (probably a hedgehog, I figure). When I finally got her away, she was a mess!

Shiva after her dig

Shiva after her dig

So home we went, and straight into the bathroom for a shower and her first bath since coming to Helsinki! She spent the rest of the afternoon napping, apparently.

I only know from tales, as I was gone shopping at some of the local markets with a friend. There’s one in the Forums, called Ilo Joulu, and there are two places for it, on the second and on the third floor. Lots of independent vendors set up inside with their tables and wares. I simply don’t have enough money, I can tell you that! I wanted so many things, but finally settled on a few small gifts for family and friends. Still, items of just 1€ or 2€ tend to add up quickly when you are buying for a half dozen and more people!

Example of some handmade boots

Example of some handmade boots

I want to pause here and give a shout out to my rain boots. My mom bought these for me from Amazon, and they are great! With a pair of wool socks, they are warm, they fit well and they are pretty comfortable to walk in. Even better, they seem to have decent traction in the ice and snow, and they definitely get through the slush very well! And the price is phenomenally better than most I’ve seen!

Amazing rainboots!

Amazing rainboots!

Slush.

Slush.

We left there and walked down to the Senate Square, where I had been last night. She was looking for a particular books dealer, which we found. She concluded business with him, and then we were feeling a bit peckish and cold, as it was drizzling a bit while we were out.

I met Santa!

I met Santa!

We decided to head in to Stockmann’s, experience the Christmas rush, and head up to the 8th floor to the Fazer Ravintola, and grab some coffee for her and hot chocolate for me. I was glad to do it, as my feet were finally starting to hurt. We had to wait for two cars of the elevators to come and go before we got there, and  then afterwards, you should have seen the line for the ladies room!

Hot chocolate and quiche at Fazer's

Hot chocolate and quiche at Fazer’s

Afterwards, she went on to a third market, but I was worn out, so we parted ways and I came home to meet my Wellu and Shiva, and tuck in. Except…it was only like 4:30pm, and I still need to take Shiva out for her evening walk! This getting dark at 3pm is for the birds!

On my way through the Rautatientorie to get to the bus, I passed a small group playing classical Christmas music right there in the hall. It was nice to stop for a moment and enjoy the music, and they played quite well, too. I’ve seen several street musicians (I think they call them buskers?) playing around the city. I tend to have a coin or two for the good ones. And most of them are quite good. (see video at the end of post)

Concert

Concert

Day 13 Challenge: How do you feel about the holiday season?

Because I don’t have to shop for anyone, I don’t feel the crushing weight of that responsibility on my shoulders. That means I can get in to the fun and joy of the season–the colors, the music, the lights, even the crowds. I’m not pressed for time, really, so the time is what I make of it, and I really enjoy looking at this time of year anew…almost like a child again, with no other responsibility than to enjoy it.

Enjoy a snippet of Christmas music!

Life Coaching

Today was a big achievement for me…I made the bus-to-train transfer solo today! I’ve done that with Wellu with me, but today I was totally on my own and I nailed it! For a country bumpkin like me, it was a big deal. All I could do not to fist-pump right there in the station. 🙂

Surveying her new home

Surveying her new home

This morning, I took Shiva out for a long walk, and we actually found the dog park near our apartment. I did go straight when I should have turned, so I took the ‘scenic route’, but eventually got there. It’s down a rather steep grade, so it’s probably not a place we’ll be visiting when there’s ice. The dog park itself (I think it is called Maasälvänpuiston koirapuisto) is rather nice, with lots of trees for her to sniff around. At 9:30am, there wasn’t another dog in the park, although we did pass several on the way there and on the way home.

While it was wet, it wasn’t muddy. The ground is some sort of gravel-type that isn’t dirt (yeah, I know, very precise of me), but the main thing is that it doesn’t turn muddy in the rain, which has been going on for some time.

My reason for the bus-to-train transfer today was that I had my first ‘life coaching’ meeting. A gal on Facebook is looking to get her certificate, and in order to do so, she has to get in so many hours of holding meetings, so she asked for volunteers. You know me by now, I look for reasons to get out and try new things, so of course, I volunteered. Amy and her companion Koag, were very nice, and we went over some questions and exercises to help me reach my goals.

One of my goals is to lose some of this weight that I’ve put on in the past year of being injured and not able to run. One of my exercises is to make this goal public. So, I am going to add a page for ‘Life Coaching’, and will be updating it with my progress. I know that I don’t know many of you, but please feel free to help keep me accountable. My big push will be after the first of the year (because it’s a great time to start, and it’s after the holidays, so no more excuses!), but I need to start getting my act together before then. So check out the page when I get it done in the next week, and help me out!

Pasila library

Pasila library

Oh, we met at the Pasila library, and while I was there, I got my library card! I feel so…together. I hear that the resources from the library are massive, so I can’t wait to take advantage of them. It was really easy to do — I just needed my Finnish ID card and I was in!

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Tonight we have the Astronomy Division Christmas gathering at Kuja Bar Bistro in Helsinki, so I need to go get ready. I’ll have pictures and an update on that tomorrow, of course.

Day 11 Challenge question: What do you look forward to the most on a Friday evening?

Wow, that’s a hard one. I don’t quite have a Friday night routine yet. My husband has an online game that he plays on Friday nights, so it’s a mostly quiet night for me. I tend to be busy during the day with the usual housekeeping stuff so I don’t have t worry about it on the weekend. I wish I could say it was a hot party night, or sauna, or that I wrap up in a blanket with hot chocolate, a book and my dog, all on the couch with candles around….hmmm, come to think of it, that does sound like a good tradition to start. I’ll let you know how it goes!

A little walkabout.

As most of you know, I have been uber-excited about bringing my dog, Shiva, here to live with me in Finland. She (we) got here Tuesday, and we did some exploring yesterday. Today, we decided to go exploring in the City Center. I met a friend near the ice skating rink, and we walked further into the center to meet another friend, and then to run a few other errands. Shiva hasn’t really been around crowds before, and so this was a very new experience for her. She did really good, only have an issue with a couple of people, although she was easily distracted. Most everyone she met smiled, petted her and she gobbled up the attention. There were other dogs all around, and she sniffed butts and they sniffed hers, and they all got along quite well! That’s one thing I’ve noticed — it seems that people around here walk their dogs as part of a social thing, rather than just to take a dog out to ‘do its business’. I would say that, conservatively, we probably came across another dozen dogs in the few hours that we were out.

We also went to Kamppi and inside the mall itself. That’s another amazement for me — dogs are allowed inside the buildings! Sure, there are still the same restrictions against dogs in grocery stores and in restaurants, and I am also respectful enough not to consider bringing Shiva into, say, a clothing store, furniture store or really any retail environment. But since I mainly like to window shop, that works well for the both of us.

Shiva-PicNicWe did, however, stop at PicNic to eat lunch. My friend and I took a seat at the furthest end of the mall restaurant, near the back exit, and Shiva pretty much just chilled on the floor. Several staffers walked by, and not a one asked us to leave, so I guess it was okay, especially since she wasn’t bothering anyone.

On the way through the mall when we were leaving, several people would stop and let her approach them, and they would smile and reach out to pet her, and she loved all the butt scritches she was getting. Many times, they would say something too me, but the best I could do was smile, shrug and say, “En puhu suomea.” apologetically. Sometimes they switched to English, and would ask things like what kind of dog, how old, and then proceed to tell me how sweet she was. Needless to say, I was thrilled. What was really cool about these encounters were that many of them were older Finns, who have the reputation of being stand-offish. They totally opened up to her, several of them smiling, and one older lady even wished us a “Merry Christmas!”, which had my friend and I just slack-jawed in wonder. Finns really can be friendly! (I already knew that, just playing up the stereotype!)

20141205_112724[1]She rode the bus like she had been born to it, jumping on and sliding under the seat…although on the trip to the Center, there was glass on the floor, so she insisted in sitting in the seat next to me and looking out the window. How could I say no?

If I can take a moment to talk about my blog a bit. This is my first blog, and I am still working on a style, a format, that sort of thing. What I set out to do was provide a place for family and friends to just keep up with what was going on. Then I wanted to provide some useful information to people who might be moving here. I still want to do those two things, and I think my goal is to provide insight on what it is like to move to a new country, and the day-to-day life of integrating in to that country. Sure, I could provide you with “tourist attraction of the week” sort of posts, but you can get those just about anywhere. I want to explain what it’s like to go to the grocery store, ride the bus, even things as mundane as laundry and going to the movies. It might sometimes be boring, but I would hope that the take-away is that assimilating into a new culture isn’t all about visiting the tourist attractions, but getting to know the every day routines, and finding a way to make them a part of your life. I’m sure I will still post about some neat places to go visit–I do plan to see as much as I can, but that isn’t my end goal. I want to /live/ here, make it my home. And I will try to post links, at least, to interesting articles or blogs that invite you into the neat attractions. I hope that you’ll come to read my blog like you would a letter from a friend that has moved. There, that’s out of the way. 🙂

Odd Observation:

As different as things are, some are eerily the same. Earlier in November, I was sitting in the Kela office, waiting my turn, and I realized that the office music system was playing The Carpenters singing “Jambayla“. And then, after that came Miley Cyrus and her “Wrecking Ball” tune. If I closed my eyes, I could have just as easily been back in the States, waiting in some doctor’s office. Weird.

Quick Edit:

I forgot all about the Challenge yesterday, and almost forgot about it today (oh wee, jet lag!)

The Day 5 question is: What can you see outside your kitchen window?

Oh, that’s an easy one! I’ve been photographing it nearly every morning that I have been here!

December 05, 2014

December 05, 2014

Autos, planes, taxi and now the bus…

20141204_125554Shiva had her first ride on a bus today! I guess it technically wasn’t her /very first/ bus ride, since she did ride the few hundred yards from the plane to the terminal on Tuesday, but we’re not counting that one.

We went to go visit Tammy and her dog, Oden, and go play at the dog park near their home.

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Riding the bus under the seats!

Shiva was a wonderful bus rider! Unfortunately, I got on the wrong bus (going the wrong way), so we had to get off the bus and cross the street, then get on the bus going the OTHER way! She just laid down at my feet and waited until I told her that it was time to get off the bus, and Tammy met us at the stop.

The path to the dog park was lovely, with a very nice gravel path that wound through the trees. We even passed an outdoor gym!

Outdoor gym!

Outdoor gym!

And when I say gym, I’m not meaning for kids, but a real gym, with workout equipment and stuff! Pretty amazing!

We got to the dog park, and Ville (Tammy’s partner) was there with Oden, and the dogs got along great! Of course, every time I tried to get a picture, they would dash off just as the shutter snapped. They were good like that. They chased each 20141204_150645other around, humped for dominance, dug some holes, ate some cookies, and the humans just chatted and talked about them, like we were moms at the toddler park bragging on our kids. The third dog, a handsome fluffy white one, is Touho, and he came along later, but everyone got along wonderfully!

Prepping for the Russian invasion, I guess.

Prepping for the Russian invasion, I guess.

While we were at the park, there were lots of guys in military gear walking in the paths, carrying weapons and gear. I got a photo of a group of them on their way. I think they were thinking I might be a bit looney since I wanted a picture of them. We later passed their camp, somewhat camouflaged in the trees.

Looking out the window on the way home.

Looking out the window on the way home.

After a couple of hours, we walked back, and I got on the bus and we returned home, without anything eventful happening. She rode up in the seat and looked out of the window for a bit, then jumped down and laid at my feet. She didn’t bark or growl at anyone, and she even entertained a toddler with some face-kissies.

So, our first public transportation bus ride was a success!

Last night, I was unpacking stuff from the flight, and I remembered I had taken some pictures of the safety manual, because the ladies on the manual were drawn very scarily. Proof:

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Their limbs are just way too long and spooky looking. Like the one with the big red ‘X’ is trying to say “Arms like this not allowed!” And those long fingers and legs in the other two pictures. Shiver.

Cute photos of the Mitchell family. When trying to get a decent picture of my sister and her family, it always turns out like this:

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Oh, the ice rink is open in the City Center. I know that’s not a big deal to folks in New York or something, but to a gal from the New Orleans area, this is a rare sight, indeed!

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And finally, I remembered to take the morning picture this morning to add to my sequence of them.

December 4, 2014

December 4, 2014

I met the president of Finland

Not really.

What I did do was get on the bus and sit directly across from the one crazy Finn who wanted to talk. And as she greeted me and I managed to mutter out a barely comprehensible “en puhua suomi.” she delighted in telling me that she spoke English. And she was the president of Finland. And that…some other stuff that I couldn’t quite make out, as apparently the presidential position must not allow much time to get dental work done, and she was missing all but about three of her teeth. The lady behind her was giving me sympathetic looks and trying not to laugh out loud. Thanks. The ‘president’ of Finland went on to tell me that she had four cars, and then asked if I had a boyfriend. I told her I was married, and she said she had a girlfriend. Progressive country, this Finland is. I wish I had asked her if I could take a picture of her, since she was famous and all, but my stop was coming up and I just didn’t think quick enough on my feet (or on my butt, as the case may be). She was quite dapper in her house shoes with duct tape on the heels, polyester pants, tshirt, flannel shirt, and down jacket and multi-color scarf.

To be fair, she was friendly, and not at all threatening. I’m finding that about the drunks in Finland. So far, I haven’t met any intimidating drunks. They are friendly, outgoing, and quite willing to discuss all aspects of their lives with you, real and imagined. She didn’t smell, and she wasn’t dirty, so she might have just been eccentric, rather than a drunk. But, it was a rather interesting start to my day, I will say that!

And then I saw this guy on the bus. Thank you, but I’ll just wait for the next one. I did see a few people dressed up and riding the buses or walking in the city. Kind of makes you look twice, but I guess it’s just as popular here as it is back home.

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I popped in to the Kumplan campus of the University to use the paper-cutter to trim my homemade flash cards. They look quite nice, and should do until I pick up the ones that Mom is making for me back in NC. Now, I just need to practice 27 hours a day and I might learn a word or two!

Passed this sign in the hallway. I know there is some major secret research going on here now!

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I got off at Sörnäinen, and still had a couple hours to kill before my appointment, so I went to the nut and candy shop down in the Metro, and stocked up on some nuts. Much cheaper than back home for cashews and pecans, I’ll say that. When done, I then stepped into the Kaiku Free Trade shop, since I pass by there each time I go to the drama workshop, but they’re closed. The prices were a bit on the high side, although not outrageously so, and for handmade crafts that come from folks being paid fairly, it’s worth a bit more. But still, I’m on a budget. I did get Victoria some ‘worry dolls’, since she is having so much stress about school.

After that, I still had some time, so I popped into the Uff second-hand store to see what that was like. It was like a small Goodwill, although better organized as far as pricing and clothing. I found an insulated snow bib for 5€ which will come in handy this Christmas. I also looked at some insulated pants (3€) and a jacket (5€), but I didn’t have the cash on me for them. I will definitely be back! Visitors and newcomers to the city should definitely check them out for winter wear on the cheap.

What is with the naming of bars in Helsinki? Some have really odd names, like this one:

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Bronco Cowboy Peyton Place. Is this like a cowboy bar with lots of soap opera-ish drama? People fooling around with other people’s people? There are other oddly named bars around the city. I might do a whole series on them.

Finally, met my appointment at 12:30 and got my Moomin tea tin for just 5€! Sure, it’s of the Poliismestari on the front, and not of Mummimamma or Snorkmaiden, but I can live with that! It’s just adding my growing collection of Moomin stuff!

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The rest of the evening has been pretty quiet. I like that I am finding a routine now, and feel like I actually /live/ here. This is home. It’s comfortable and quite nice.

Oh, nothing planned for Halloween, either. And apparently most shops are closed tomorrow, which is an odd concept for me. Who closes on All Saints Day??

Day 2 (päivä kaksi) of language class

Shuttled myself off to Finnish class this morning (after watching an episode of Castle – more on that later), and dove right in. But let’s talk about the bus ride. Not because anything spectacular happened, really. Just, as I sat on the bus, looking at the window, I smiled to think about how ‘routine’ riding the bus was feeling. I wasn’t feeling that nervous, twitchy feeling inside, afraid that I was going to miss my bus stop (never mind this one was actually at the END of the route, but I digress). I could actually look out the window casually, paying attention to the shops along the way, mentally making note of places that I want to come back and visit (there’s a free trade shop that looks really interesting!), and simply take in the scenery. Most of the time, I had been consumed with keeping my eyes glued to the read-out screen in the bus, not wanting to miss my stop, so that I ended up missing a lot of views along the way.

It was a nice feeling, and I soaked it up for a while, before getting off the bus. And for someone who is directionally challenged, I was rather impressed with the way that I knew in just what direction to head off, what streets to turn up or down, and got to my destination without mishap. I savored the moment, and then entered the classroom.

opettaja (teacher)

opettaja (teacher)

Study notes for Wednesday

Study notes for Wednesday

Ah yes, immersion. Well, right back to being lost. Although, I have to say that today I managed to actually figure out what she was talking about a little quicker than I had the first day. I made my notes, practiced the pronunciation, asked questions (even one in Finnish, yay me!), and felt pretty good about it. I put on my coat, confident in my new-found comfort in these new surroundings, and headed out into the streets. I decided to take another look at the Moomin Shop (guilty pleasure), and went in the way I thought it located…

Oops.

Lost. This way? Hmm, nope. This way? Nope.

Did see this guy, but he wasn’t any help at all.

balloon boy

balloon boy

In the end, I didn’t find my Moomin Shop again (was it just a dream?), and instead found myself exiting in a wholly unfamiliar part of the city. Damn, this Forum Shops place is HUGE. Obviously, I found my way back to the bus depot, but in the process managed to exit on the far side of the block, away from where I thought I was going. That’ll teach me to get so over-confident too soon!

Met Wellu for lunch, where we shared some pasta that I had made (yes, I cooked!), and then headed back home for a nap and to fix dinner. I can’t wait for Shiva to get here, and give me a reason to be out during the day. She’d love this weather, as it is sort of brisk, but not too cold or too hot, and we could go to the dog park and she could run around with the other poochies (koira).

So, on to television. Castle. I love the show, don’t get me wrong, and I totally have a crush on Nathan Fillion, but this episode just seemed rather weak. I mean, Becket is still grilling the suspect and it is noted that they only have 7 minutes before the victims will be dead, if the guy doesn’t reveal where they are. Heck, they are in downtown Manhattan…they couldn’t get out of the precinct building in seven minutes, much less to any location in the downtown area! This particular episode was full of too many of those sorts of holes. I never took Castle seriously, but that was a bit much for me to ignore. Maybe it’ll just be this episode.

castle

And let’s close with a (warning: sweeping generalization) musing…why aren’t there any fluffy pillows in Finland? I’m not saying you can’t pay an arm and a leg and buy a nice, fluffy, firm, full pillow somewhere, but what about the cheaper version of that? Back home, I could go to Walmart, pay less than $15 and get a nice, big pillow that would actually give me some support. But here…everything in that price range has all the support of a piece of paper. Even Stockmann’s 20€ pillow was a disappointment. So, I am reduced to stuffing two pillows into one suitcase to mimic what should be a single pillow. And waiting until my trip back home to pick up my $$ Tempurpedic pillows. 🙂

pillows

A fruitless search.

Or should I say ‘cupless’?

The day dawned rather dreary and wet, but the temperature was a balmy 48°, so just a turtleneck and windbreaker would do. And I use the term ‘dawn’ rather loosely, as I didn’t actually get up until after 8:30am, and by the time breakfast was done and we’d piddled about the apartment some, it was nearly 11am. I am getting rather spoiled about my mornings!

In any case, I decided that today I would make the trek to Itäkeskus, catch the (free) IKEA bus to IKEA, and purchase a set of measuring cups, so that my new-found baking hobby wouldn’t have me running from computer to kitchen doing measurement conversions. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong. I decided to be efficient, and pack up all the garbage and recycling to take out with me, as well. So I get my backpack ready, get the bags and boxes all gathered at the front door, put on my windbreaker and shoes, and gather the IKEA cart, and head into the hallway, nudging the door shut with my hands full.

Remember in my earlier post, talking about how the outer doors are constructed without exterior door handles? Makes it hard to grab when you suddenly realize that you’ve not checked to make sure you have your key with you and the apartment locks when the door is shut. Yup. Locked myself out of the apartment. I verified this when I went ahead to go take out the garbage and realized that I needed that same key to get into the rubbish bins. Fortunately, a neighbor came by and opened that up for me, and I was able to at least dispense with those items.

Then, I called Wellu, informed him of my rather bonehead move, and set out to go to the Kumpulan kampus stop to meet him to get the extra key. By then, we were nearing on 1pm, but he tells me I can take the bus to Sörneinen and then take the Metro to Itäakeskus, and catch the 2pm IKEA bus. I get to Sörneinen, then decide that surely the Lidl store would have measuring cups. Nope. I’d already checked the local S Market to no avail. I figure, aw screw it, I’ll go tomorrow, and head to the bus.

On the way back, I realize that I am coming to the Arabia Shopping Center, and surely the Tarjoustalo store (‘Bargain Store’) will have a cheap set of measuring cups. They are located on the upper floor, so as long as I am on the ground floor, I go ahead and check out the markets (S and K, respectively), but no luck. So up I go. I scour every inch of this bargain store, and while they certainly do have lots of stuff (candles, hockey sticks, clothing, candy, food, hygiene, cookware, linens, yarn, toys, sauna supplies, and more), they do not have any measuring cups.

What? Are measuring cups disallowed in this country? Heck, I think nearly every dollar store, gas station and grocery store back home carried at least one set to choose from. I can add these to index cards, on the ‘nearly impossible to find items that should be everywhere’ list.

To clarify, that’s not to say I could not find ANY measuring items. I could find plenty of the first item, but none of the second item pictured:

measuring bowl measuring cups

If I want to measure just a quarter cup (or the metric equivalent) of something, using a huge mixing bowl is rather…inaccurate, to say the least. And especially when I need the bowl to mix in, and then also need to measure wet and dry items for the same recipe. Not saying that it can’t be done, just that it’s a royal pain for someone who isn’t all that enamored of cooking in the first place!

But, I am returning to the States in November, and from there I will have a set of civilized measuring cups and spoons, with both metric and imperial measurements on them, waiting for me. So I’m not completely despondent over the issue. Just perplexed. 🙂

So, all in all, the day was mostly a bust, although I did get the laundry washed and hung up. Sheets are still drying out on the balcony, where they will likely stay until morning.

I did add another picture to the Changing Seasons page, which shows my main tree becoming more and more bare. It’s happening so fast, I’m glad I went to taking a picture at least every other day. I think it’s really going to look impressive by next spring!

Festival of Lights

Tonight, Wellu and I went to Linnanmäki for their ‘Festival of Lights’. To be fair, I thought that this was a special event, but apparently it is simply going at night when all the lights on the rides and such are turned on. Nothing extraordinary, but since admission to the amusement park is free, it was a nice way to spend an hour or so of the evening riding around.

Leaving from Meripihkatie, we took the 75 bus to Paavalin kirkko, where we got off and crossed the street so we could take the tram 8 to Linnanmäki. It lets you off right at the base of the hill, where you cross the street, walk up the hill and right into the entrance. They do check bags at the entrance (backpacks and purses).

The park is small, but looks like it could be fun in the warmer months. There are some pretty fearsome looking rides, as well as the usual amusement park fare. Prices seemed a bit steep, though. A night time unlimited wrist band costs about 28€, while if you want to pay for rides individually, you’re going to pay around 8€ EACH ride, so the band starts to look like an actual deal. There’s the usual midway, array of places to eat, and we got there just as the live music was wrapping up.

I’ve included some pictures from the outing, just so you can see what there was to experience. I think we might go back in the spring to actually try out some of the rides.

Here’s a video I took of the wild ‘octopus-like’ ride:

Then, here’s one of a ride similar to others we have in the U.S. that drop you suddenly (after getting you all comfy with an excellent view):

On the return, we took the 8 tram to Sörnäinen, got off, then caught the 70 bus back to Meripihkatie. Sooner or later, I’ll learn my way around!

It was a damp day

Today started off with a drizzle, had some actual rain in the middle of the day (ironically when I was going to lunch), and then let off towards the evening, although the rain is supposed to continue throughout the week. I’ve started taking pictures each day, as the leaves are changing ever faster.Although, this picture is just one of the sunrise. You get the full spread of pictures on Tuesday. 🙂

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Last night, we went out to a very nice restaurant with some of Wellu’s collegues for a farewell dinner for the Hungarian researcher that had been visiting for the past few months. We had some fabulous food, and my dinner was especially good: I ordered the wild elk, with the garlic potatoes and creamed cep mushrooms. The meat was garnished with lingonberry sauce, and I devoured the whole thing!

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Earlier in the day, I made my trek to IKEA, which I had not visited in some time (at least a week!). I managed to get in the ‘card only’ line, but didn’t realize it, but fortunately, I had my new debit card with me! It works like a dream!

Today was relatively quiet. I met Wellu and the rest of the astronomy department at the Chinese food restaurant at the Arabia mall, and listened to Petra spin tall tales about Finland to the Italian researcher across the table. Then amazingly enough, I heard an ‘unaccented’ voice at the end of the table. Apparently there is a visiting (?) researcher here from Minnesota. He said he’s been here six weeks and picked up none of the language. Join the club!

Afterwards, I hung out at the mall for a bit, then headed home to do some organizing and cooking. I was going to make some Mexican stew, but we ended up with steak and fries, instead. Oh well, there is always tomorrow!

For record’s sake, I took the 73 to the Kumpulan Kampus stop, and then took the 70T back to the Meripikahtie stop. Tomorrow, I will take the 73 to the Sörnäinen stop, then get off and walk to Moniheli. Coming back, the walk is a bit more, as the return bus stop is not just right across the street, but a few blocks away, as well. But I’ll take the same bus (73) back home.