Finland – Loving the summer

Forest, Finland, Summer

So midsummer came, Waffle’s parents went and we were stranded alone in Helsinki.  The midsummer Helsinki I remember, used to be a ghost town. Things have changed since the time I lived there. Largely, I think, thanks to the change in the opening hours of shops. The previously so ghostly town was buzzing with life with people shopping.

In that buzz we strolled to have lunch in a Mexican with a friend before escaping to the suburbs to find some family members to meet, before heading even further out of the town, to another cottage.

A part of my family has a great little hut in the town of Karkkila. It is in the forest at the shore of a small, dark lake. We were greeted with warm sauna and fresh, home made Carelian pies. So we bathed, swam, ate and laughed, went to bed and repeated the same the next day with a touch of football and cottage games.

However nice it was, in the afternoon we turned our car towards Savonia again, to get to enjoy our own cottage.  The real relaxing summer holiday was finally starting.

 

We were both looking forward to have at least one good day hike, as it had been a long time since we managed to get on a trail. Once we started looking for our alternatives we discovered surprisingly great amount of alternatives when it comes to National Parks.  This time Tiilikkajärvi was our chosen destination.

I was not expecting much from the park, to be honest. It looked like a small little blob on the map with a lake in the middle. Tiilikkajärvi laughed at my face and was magnificent straight from the start!

Starting from the Sammakkotammi there is the Uiton kierto -loop of 7 km which we were happy to embark on, we added a couple of extra stretches to it and walked about 12 – 13 km that day. And the trails were beautiful! I felt a bit ashamed I had never been there before.

The trail took us into a beautiful forest of pines and spruces with a carpet of bilberries waiting to ripen. Quickly we ended up to an open swamp where the trail turned into duckboards. Onward we went along the side of the lake Tiilikka, the trail moving back and forth from swamp to forest. The smell in the forest was amazing. Vibrant with tones of different flowers. The wild rosemary was not yet in bloom, so it’s smell was not yet overpowering all the others. Accidentally we had the perfect timing!

That is exactly the kind of setting a soul like mine needs to be in sometimes.

A bit further, 3,5 – 4 km from the start the trail comes to Venäjänhiekka, a camping spot with a magnificent beach and a view over the large open water of the Tiilikkajärvi. From thereon, to the north, the trail explores a very narrow peninsula which almost, but not quite reaches the other peninsula crossing the lake from the northern shores. The whole place is scattered with beautiful beaches with the most fine sand for your toes to sink in.

 


It was magical, walking in such beautiful surroundings with the summer sun on our necks. We crossed through an old farm house, that has been made into a resting hut and renovated into it’s former outfit. From there the trail took us to more of the endless swamps and duckboards. The  vastness of the place is unbelievable, it takes your mind on journeys as it spreads around for kilometers on end.

About 4 hours we spent in the park. It is by far one of the most versatile one I have seen, compared to it’s size. I do warmly recommend visiting it, whether on foot or by kayak. There is also a longer hiking trail, “Virvatulten polku” leaving from the park, which will take you to places of that shows you marks of the ice age etc…

Nothing much happened for the rest of the holiday. We chilled, enjoyed the nature and peace, some remarkable sunsets and full moons. We also seem to have an unbelievable clumsy swan as a neighbor. As we were having our evening swims the swan decided to take off and go do it’s own evening business. We just happened to be chilling in the water right on it’s runway. The next evening the same swan was coming back home from it’s business and was almost landing it’s feet on Waffle’s head, only just avoiding collision, after we shouted at it. Poor thing, maybe he should visit Specsavers.

As always, the time to go home came far too soon. I knew I would miss Finland again. Before leaving Finland completely we had a stop in Helsinki again. The last days we spent meeting friends. As we see each other so seldom I start noticing how we are all growing up, facing completely new challenges and phases in life. One is living in a mansion, another is becoming a mother, someone is moving to a new city; there are old and new loves in their lives.

I miss my girls.

 

On the following Monday it was back to reality and work again. It felt a bit like my legs had doubled in weight. I would have been so much happier to swing my toes in the lake at our dock that dragging them around the hot streets of Brussels. But oh well, there are new trips to look forward to.

So long!

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Wrapping up the year 2016

Wales, Beach, Nature

It is December again, the end of the year, time of celebrations, traditions and the beginning of winter. It is a good moment to count your fortunes, check if you have offended the Karma, and how much more, or less, kilos there are on the waistline. After that we can all consider whether the year was a good or a bad one, and what to do in 2017 to make it better, or worse, in case someone happens to be a masochist.

Well, I started this year with my Waffle in Barcelona. Making wishes as people around us swallowed grapes on every beat of the clock. Since then there has been some new pins appearing to our map. Somehow we orientated a lot to the Eastern Europe this year. Some great mountains and wild nature there. I think both of us fell in love with Montenegro in its endless greenery. Not that Romania is left too far behind.

I think we have gotten a bit used to this traveling. It felt like a quiet year until we lay our eyes on the photo album. We have been to places with quite a hectic pace.

Beside the traveling we do, there is the normal, everyday life we are having. Our relationship is only getting stronger I think. And forming sometimes even a little spooky, symbiotic features. But I love my Waffle and he loves me back, so I don’t really mind even if we transform into one of those disgusting couples who do everything together and the same way.

We have also gained some amazing friends this year. They make me realize the fact, that you should surround yourself with people you feel good to be around and that support you and offer a healthy amount of critique at times, when you are going wild on a stupid idea. Thank you, my new people. And thank you my old people, who are still there and haven’t forgotten me, no matter the distance in between!

And personal growth? Someone told me it is sometimes important to consider that as well, sometimes. Pfft, says I, but lets give it a try. I have always been, and still am, very bad at self reflection. I go with a flow, see where I end up and embrace the opportunities that rise along the way, out of coincidences and accidents. Sometimes it is liberating, at times it is stressful but it works for me. And Waffle seems to be able to tag along nicely, so I am happy.

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Somehow this passed year did force me to look a bit deeper too. Taking a jump off of work was something I had to consider a bit. I wasn’t sure if I was giving up too soon and whether it was fair towards Waffle. But since quitting I have gained a new language (somewhat) and a new job! So no new lessons learned about being spontaneous and reckless.

What about the coming 2017? It is getting closer and closer and somehow we all need to survive it. I usually do not make any resolutions. Now I am making an exception, since I think I came up with a good one that might make me a better person. Or a more irritating one, who knows.

You know, there are those moments when you end up saying “We definitely should do that!” I think most people have that habit. But what happens after saying those words? Sometimes something, often absolutely nothing. Now, I promise that after I blurt out a thing like that, something will happen.

My dear friends. I love you, please don’t make me regret this…

What about you, people out there; How was your 2016 and what is the survival plan for 2017? In any case, Happy New Year!

Couple, Sailing, DFDS
On actual normal picture of the two of us together. Nobody making faces!

What happened in October

November is usually the depressingly boring month, when the autumn really sets in, turning everything into grey, wet and cold misery. Then the nature goes to sleep, sun does not want to rise anymore and people are getting ill and depressed. At the same time the wheels of the economy are starting to spin faster after the summer break. That is usually a bad combination, and unnatural, in my humble opinion.

The starting of my October was not quite that depressing, or business-wheely. It started of with a birthday hike. Our dear German friend from Karhunkierros was getting older, and she had had the wonderful idea of hiking a part of the famous Mullerthal trail accompanied by hiking people. For us that was also a wonderful opportunity to get together with more or less the same group with which we hiked the most important hike of my life. Oh the nostalgia and the pretty memories! We should start doing that more often!

The planned hike started from Mullerthal and looped back via Larochette, 37 km of Luxembourgish countryside for us to hike in 2 days. We drove to Mullerthal in pouring rain. The weather didn’t get much better when it was time to get going on foot. So we all ended up looking more or less like walking tents in our rain gear.

The first day took our convoy through a beautiful valley all the way to Larochette. By the time we got there the rain had more or less ended and our wet convoy of hikers was able to get their feet dry. The evening was starting to turn a little bit moist though; Someone had brought some absinthe, and the store of the camping had a good supply of beer. We were able to get our birthday girl, and more importantly, the rest of the group, nicely tipsy. Soon there were plenty of inappropriate German jokes and out of focus pool games around.

The return hike to the car began in the late morning and was sturdily hangoverish. The convoy was walking less than straight, but everybody seemed to be pleased with the small party we had had the night before, I certainly was. We crossed quite a bit of beautiful Luxembourgian countryside with rain and wind on our backs.

The ending part of the trail took us to a wooden path that was extremely slippery after a couple of days of rain. On every second step someone was almost dropping off to greet the bushes. Soon we started to see more and more people, we were approaching the very popular bit of the famous stone formations, waterfalls and bridges, which many people obviously want to see.

Soon after that we found the cars, packed all the wet hikers into them, and drove home. For us it was a bath awaiting accompanied by some good wine.

The next weekend it was time to teach some basics of kiting to our dear friends Maria and Bram, who we have met via my Dutch lessons. One Friday we sent them off to Les Hemmes with their camper van and children. We would be coming after them on Friday.

That weekend turned out to be full of surprises.  First one being, that the camping we have started to use, was closed for the whole winter.  We had sent our friends there to find a closed gate and felt very bad about it. They had to go look for another campsite for the night.

On Saturday we arrived too, and got a confirmation of the camping really being closed. Another set of our dear friends, Maarten and Yvan, had found us another camping and even reserved a spot. Lovely people those guys! So we managed to focus on the more important tasks at hand, socializing over a beer with buggiers that is.

There was of course eventually a time for the beach too. The beach was perfect, I realized and felt immediately sorry for myself, since my wrist would not allow me to kite or drive at all. But the weather was nice, I had a chair, a camera and a good book with me, so the beach life would not be that bad.

By the time Maria and Bram joined the group we had already built our buggies and enjoyed a very buggier-like portion of beer, thanks to our dear friend Maarten. It was definitely time to drag ourselves to the beach. We set camp and Waffle started teaching.

Waffle’s day turned out to be hectic. There were two adults to be instructed and their kids to entertain. He was driving our tandem up and down the beach all day long, with too low wind and massive kites and kind yelling at him to go either faster or slower. If he wasn’t driving he was teaching people to fly a kite. I was ruminating my own misery of not being allowed to even touch a kite (I did though, do not tell Waffle).

That teaching resulted to the next surprise of the day. Bram was incredibly talented. Waffle shoved bigger and bigger kites into his hands and he didn’t die. Soon Bram found himself in a buggy with the kite and sure enough, he drove! He found the correct wind direction very easily and managed to drive some very impressive lines. Either Waffle is getting great at teaching or Bram is phenomenal.

The following day the wind was completely gone. Other activities needed to be invented. Since there were kids and all, we decided to go see the seals. As usual, to see them we had to drive through the makeshift refugee camp, The Jungle. Driving through that place is always an experience. To the kids it left quite an impression for sure.

At the shore we saw quite some seals. Apparently very contempt and happy seals. I have never seen them so relaxed before. They were just floating around with the current and socializing with the other blobbers. It was great to end that weekend like that, watching something so beautiful.

After that my October became a little bit more business-wheely. I had to stop my Dutch lessons (still getting my diploma though, with 89% score!) and get to work. So it finally started. My new challenge in working life. I work in the EU quarter in Brussels, right in the middle of EU politics. Which is surprisingly lot of fun. The job is interesting and the people are great, finally I am happy to be working again!

But I do spend a lot of time on the road. It is not the optimal journey to work from Rupelmonde to Brussels, especially as I am for the time being refusing to drive to the center on my own. That is why I haven’t been writing too much lately, at least in English, so sorry about that. I just haven’t had the time. But I’ll try to get it going again.

We do have some things coming up. Waffle is doing his No Alcohol November and we are going to Mallorca for a getaway weekend. There is another set of Finnish Beer Festival coming up and of course, Christmas is here pretty soon. I am happy to announce, that we’ll be spending it in Finland!

How is autumn getting along there, where ever you are?